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  • Creating a More Inclusive Industry: Lessons for Credit Unions

    Posted by on January 22, 2018

    In its 2017 Diversity Report, Financial Solutions Lab (FinLab) provided an update on its efforts to create a more inclusive financial services industry. Managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) with founding partner JPMorgan Chase & Co., FinLab seeks to identify, test and bring to scale promising innovations to improve financial health in America. The program is dedicated to supporting and encouraging diversity within the early-stage fintech space.

    “As an investor and supporter of early-stage startups, we believe that diverse teams simply build better products,” writes CFSI FinLab Senior Manager Maria Lajewski in the report. “By having a more comprehensive understanding of the market, diverse teams are more likely to build products that address the needs of a broad swath of consumers, including those who are historically underserved. And it’s those companies that are much more likely to grow and scale to reach millions of customers.”

    Below are a couple interesting findings Lajewski shares in the report:

    Of the 57 percent of Americans who struggle with their financial health, some segments of the population – including low-income women and people of color – struggle disproportionately.

    Of the 78 FinLab applicants who self-identified as targeting at least one underserved community, 32 had not yet raised any capital and 22 had raised less than $500,000. However, the average amount of capital raised across the total applicant pool was $630,000.

    LESSONS FOR CREDIT UNIONS

    FinLab’s findings and work to create a more inclusive industry are relevant to credit unions in several ways. Here are a few key takeaways:

    Consider extending credit to startups. The FinLab report reveals many early-stage companies, especially those serving underserved communities, struggle securing investment capital. With their community focus and “people helping people” philosophy, credit unions are well-suited to help meet that need. As reported in Inc., Apple may exist today because co-founder Steve Wozniak was able to get a loan from his credit union while the company was still based in a garage. Talk about a feather in that credit union’s cap.

    Educate staff and community. Throughout FinLab’s eight-month program, the organization brings in a wide range of people and experiences to help founders deepen their understanding of the financial challenges low-income and underserved consumers face. FinLab also organizes dinners to discuss how to build diverse organizational teams and culturally relevant products for underserved communities. Credit unions could easily adopt similar models to educate their employees and community members.

    Host “day-in-the-life” events. During a workshop called FinX, FinLab participants go into a local community to perform a series of real-time financial transactions, such as cashing a check, buying and loading a prepaid card and sending a money order. Here again, credit unions could organize similar activities to help their staff better understand the challenges faced by the underserved in their communities. Coopera coordinates similar activities through its Coopera Immersion Program. Our staff guide credit union team members through a series of exercises designed to give them a better idea of what life is like for the underserved in their communities.

    “While we understand these issues are multifaceted and will never be solved in a single conversation over dinner, creating a safe space and the opportunity to have these discussions is one way that we can regularly check our individual and collective blind spots,” writes Lajewski. “Where are the missed partnership opportunities or design decisions that could open up your customer base to those who have the most to gain from your product? It takes a little extra effort to make sure we’re creating a safe space to discuss these kinds of questions, but it’s an investment we’re willing to make.”

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    5 Trends Driving Credit Union Investment in Underserved Markets

    Posted by on January 8, 2018

    The annual Financially Underserved Market Size Study, conducted by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), illustrates the tremendous opportunity that exists to address the needs of financially underserved consumers. The study measures the size, composition and opportunity for products and services underserved individuals use to save, spend, borrow and plan.

    Here are some of the 2017 study’s highlights:

    • Underserved consumers spent $173 billion in fees and interest to use $1.94 trillion in financial services in 2016.

    • Spending by financially underserved consumers increased 6.6 percent, or $10.7 billion, in 2016.

    • The market has grown an average of four percent each year since 2009.

    The report also identifies five trends driving opportunities for financial services providers. What follows are a few ways credit unions may consider leveraging these trends to improve the financial lives of underserved consumers in their communities.

    Credit Cards
    Credit card spending among underserved consumers has grown rapidly for several consecutive years. CFSI estimates underserved consumers will spend $37.6 billion on retail credit cards, $8.3 billion on subprime credit cards and $0.4 billion on secured credit cards. Retail credit cards resemble subprime credit cards in terms of average balance and interest rates, but promotional features, like product discounts and no-interest startup periods, drive many account openings. Consumers who don’t pay off their balances quickly enough may see the cost of credit increase rapidly. The average retail credit card APR is 24 percent, and 72 percent of retail credit cards do not base APR on cardholder creditworthiness.

    How Credit Unions Can Help
    Consider mapping out a strategy to evolve your credit card offerings in a way most likely to benefit the unique underserved populations in your market. Start by identifying your existing members and prospects who fall into the underserved segment. Finding success with a credit-builder product like a secured card isn’t a quick fix. Issuers must take the necessary steps to comply with several regulations, including Ability to Repay rules. Cards and marketing teams will need to collaborate closely to execute sales, communication and, importantly, cardmember education plans. There must also be a good program in place for graduating cardmembers into appropriate products as their improving credit profiles warrant.

    Frequent Overdrafts
    Nearly 75 percent of overdraft revenue comes from a relatively small number of consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reports 8.3 percent of all checking accounts experience more than 10 overdrafts in a year. In 2016, this subset of frequent overdrafters spent $24.5 billion on overdraft fees. Of consumers whose overdraft frequency is in the top 20 percent, 23.4 percent close their accounts within 15 months. Of those, 86.3 percent see their accounts closed involuntarily.

    How Credit Unions Can Help
    Educate your members on how to avoid overdraft fees, including opting out of overdraft protection, keeping closer tabs on checking account balances, direct depositing paychecks, signing up for automatic notifications if the balance drops below a certain level and setting up a linked account as a backup.

    Credit Pricing
    There are approximately 91 million U.S. adults who are credit-challenged, meaning they have subprime credit scores below 600 or are unscorable due to a lack of sufficient credit file information. Many credit products accessible to underserved consumers feature one-size-fits-all rates and fees, which means they aren’t priced according to risk.

    How Credit Unions Can Help
    Many credit-challenged consumers may benefit from alternative measurements of borrower risk to increase their access to credit. Big data makes it possible to develop much more nuanced underwriting and rate-setting techniques. Setting custom-tailored rates to fit an applicant’s credit history does require specialized expertise, but the return is worth the extra effort. This is true not just for the credit union but also for members of the local community who may be turned down for credit with traditional underwriting. Risk-based pricing allows issuers to lend to consumers of higher risk and still be profitable.

    Small Business Finance
    An annual Federal Reserve survey found between 56 percent and 71 percent of small businesses with revenues of less than $1 million failed to receive the full amount of credit requested on loan applications over the past three years. Forty-four percent of small businesses surveyed reported securing financing as a top challenge. Small businesses are increasingly seeking out non-financial institution online lenders as a source of credit. These online lenders were preferred by 26 percent of small businesses in 2016, up from 18 percent in 2014.

    How Credit Unions Can Help
    While credit access is extremely important, it represents only one piece of a small business’s overall financial health. Broader opportunity exists for credit unions to help address the full range of small business financial challenges, such as limited time for financial management, cash flow volatility and barriers to startup funding.

    Fintech Solutions
    Several product markets are feeling the impact of increased digitization. The rise of digital wire transfers and online tax filing points to the inroads new technologies are making into previously brick-and-mortar domains. Short-term credit products are primed for online channel growth that can enhance borrower control in the loan comparison and application process.

    How Credit Unions Can Help
    Ensure the digital experience your credit union offers is on par with the experience offered by your non-financial institution competitors. Many underserved populations use online and mobile devices as much or more than other segments. A recent Google study found U.S. Hispanics use online sources at a higher rate (54 percent) than the general population (46 percent) throughout the purchase journey.

    Clearly, there are many ways a credit union may be able to leverage the trends driving opportunities in underserved markets. Before embarking on a new initiative, however, a credit union should ensure the strategy aligns with its mission and target market. Doing it right requires a decent amount of work, and importantly, buy-in from executives and the board. But for credit unions looking to tap into the huge potential of the underserved opportunity and improve the financial lives of more consumers, it’s likely worth the effort.

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    Finding Creative and Relevant Ways to Encourage Saving

    Posted by on December 18, 2017

    On a recent Freakonomics podcast episode, Is America Ready for a No-Lose Lottery, a professor at the Saïd School of Business specializing in consumer finance shared some interesting insights about consumers’ savings habits (or lack thereof). He surveyed nearly 10,000 people to see if they could come up with $2,000 in 30 days.

    “Why $2,000?” Tufano asked. “Because an auto transmission is about $1,500. Most estimates of everyday emergencies are about that order of magnitude… And then, why this language ‘come up with’ as opposed to ‘save?’ Because we wanted to see if people had access to resources between savings, credit, friends and family.

    What he found was that nearly half of Americans are not able to come up with $2,000 in 30 days. That means they are just one emergency or crisis away from dire circumstances.

    The study highlights the need for credit unions to encourage their members to save, really save. A number of financial services providers are finding creative ways to do just that by adapting to consumer behaviors, particularly those of low-income communities. Below are a couple examples.

    Prize-Linked Savings

    Twenty states currently allow prize-linked savings accounts as a way to encourage their residents to save. With this model, consumers deposit money in an account with an understanding they won’t receive interest on their deposits. Instead, the interest of all participants is pooled together and awarded as a large cash-based prize.

    This type of account appeals to certain segments of the population because of a phenomenon economists call “skewness.” Skewness is the idea that despite really poor odds, there is an almost irresistible appeal to the idea that with a low upfront investment, one big win could change your life. This phenomenon is illustrated by the nearly $60 billion Americans spend on lottery tickets every year.

    Prize-linked savings does carry a few roadblocks and concerns – namely, such a product is not yet legal in every state. Also, the product may be difficult for consumers to understand, particularly for underserved populations who may not even be familiar with the role of traditional financial institutions.

    However, if we can overcome those barriers, it may be an interesting product. As Freakonomics host Stephen Dubner said, “In a country where it’s easy to borrow your way to bankruptcy, where you can buy lottery tickets anytime you buy a loaf of bread, prize-linked savings is like a big neon billboard that turns a boring old savings account into an exaggeration of itself. Stick some money in here, it says, and you just might hit a big payday. And even if you don’t — well, your money still belongs to you.”

    Next-Generation Tandas

    Tanda is a Spanish term used to describe a savings and lending circle among family and friends that helps people reach financial goals. With more than 200 different names that vary from country to country, the concept of an “informal loan club” has been around for hundreds of years.

    Here’s an example of how it works: 10 friends and family members form a tanda. Each member gives $100 every week to the group’s organizer. At the end of 10 weeks, one participant gets the payout of $1,000. This continues until each member has received the payout. By working in a group in which others are counting on them, participants have motivation to stick with the plan. Tandas are particularly popular in Hispanic and immigrant communities in which a high level of value is placed on mutual trust among family and friends.

    To appeal to today’s increasing digital consumers, organizations such as eMoneyPool and PayPal are bringing the concept of a tanda into the digital world.

    eMoneyPool is a sharing community that operates much like a tanda except anyone can join in less than five minutes using a connected device. Unlike a traditional tanda that only includes family members and close friends, eMoneyPool offers a marketplace where participants can take part in a pool anytime with people from across the country. This means there will always be a pool available to meet their needs. With PayPal Money Pools, participants can create a page that lets others easily chip in for group gifts, special events and more.

    Whether prize-linked savings or next-generation tandas are the right path forward for your credit union, one thing is clear: There exists a real need among consumers, and particularly among Hispanics and other underserved communities, for creative and relevant savings options.

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    Connecting with Hispanics in Your Community This Holiday Season

    Posted by on December 2, 2017

    As in most cultures, shopping and gift-giving are important parts of the holiday season for many Hispanics. According to recent research by ThinkNow Retail, 33 percent of Hispanics say they will be spending more this holiday season than they did last year, compared to 30 percent across all markets. Some other interesting findings from the study include:

    –About 41 percent of Hispanics plan to pay for most of their holiday purchases with a debit card, higher than any other market. Cash and credit tie for second among Hispanics at 24 percent each.

    –Smartphones will be the most commonly used device for making online holiday purchases among Hispanics. About 62 percent of Hispanics will use a smartphone, compared to 50 percent across all markets. Laptops, on the other hand, will be the device used the most overall across all markets.

    –On average, Hispanics plan to buy about 35 percent of their holiday purchases online and about 46 percent in-store.

    For credit unions serving Hispanic communities, it’s important to understand holiday purchasing behaviors to better tailor marketing offers, as well as products and services. Even more important, however, is the understanding of specific motivations. That level of intelligence allows your teams to create a deeper connection between the credit union and its community.

    In the Hispanic culture, most holidays have their origins in religion, specifically Christianity. Approximately 77 percent of Hispanics are Christians, with the overwhelming majority identifying as Catholic.

    As such, Christmas is one of the most popular Hispanic holidays, and there are many traditions associated with it. Here are a few favorites:

    Tamale-making parties – Tamales are holiday staples in many parts of Latin America. Because making tamales is a time-consuming task, many people participate in tamaladas, where participants bond over recipe swaps and bulk prep of the holiday favorite.

    Christmas Eve feastNochebuena is a very special celebration shared with family and close friends on Christmas Eve. Food plays an important role during this celebration. Each country, and even certain regions within a specific Latin American country, has a special dish.

    Re-enactments and plays – Posadas are re-enactments of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay before Jesus was born. Many posadas start at church services. Las pastorelas are plays that retell the Christmas story.

    It’s clear religion and family are at the heart of the Hispanic holiday experience. Whether it’s partnering with a local community center or church to support a tamalada or posada, having a drawing for a pork roast, a common centerpiece of the Nochebuena meal, or simply sharing holiday family fun ideas on your website and social media channels, there are a variety of ways credit unions can connect with Hispanics in their communities this holiday season.

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    4 Credit Unions Apply Grant Funds to People, Partners & Education

    Posted by on November 27, 2017

    In October, I shared the plans of three Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant recipients specific to how they will use the funds earned. This post will take a look at four additional recipients of the grant, which is made possible by Coopera, CUNA and the National Credit Union Foundation. Each of the recipients is a Juntos Avanzamos-designated cooperative, a program taken to the national stage by the Federation.

    Ascentra Credit Union
    Ascentra will use the grant funds to continue growing and evolving its Hispanic outreach program and building community partnerships. This includes translating materials needed for upcoming presentations that will benefit the Esperanza Legal Assistance Center, a low-cost immigration services provider.

    “We have been building and evolving our program to accommodate our successful growth of Hispanic members,” said Alvaro Macias, Ascentra AVP of community development. “We also have an internal group of bilingual staff that meets 3-4 times a year and a community development advisory group that evolved out of our Latino Outreach Advisory Group. Today, we are positioning the credit union to build community partnerships that are mutually beneficial to members, other organizations and long-term sustainability of the credit union.”

    Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (SCCCU)
    With the grant funds, SCCCU will develop a new website and mobile access, offer more financial education sessions and Spanish-language seminars and help local Hispanic nonprofits with their financial inclusion efforts.

    “The Warren Morrow Grant will help us close the outreach gap by supplementing our budget for providing financial education to the Spanish-speaking community,” said SCCCU President/CEO Beth Carr. “Additionally, more nonprofits serving the Hispanic community here are being required by grant funders to include financial literacy and training in their grant proposals and programs. As a Juntos Avanzamos-certified credit union, we feel it is our responsibility to assist our community non-profits.”

     

    DC Federal Credit Union (DGEFCU)
    The grant will allow a young, Hispanic member service representative at DGEFCU to participate in the Cooperative Leaders Scholars Institute at this fall’s National Co-op IMPACT Conference.

    “This enhances our credit union’s current Hispanic growth strategy in a couple ways,” said DC FCU President/CEO Carla Decker. “First, it grows our staff’s professional competency and serves to retain talent. Second, the training will add another resource to a budding partnership opportunity with the potential for tremendous impact and further expansion of DGEFCU’s footprint.”

     

    JetStream Federal Credit Union
    JetStream will partner with a local high school to select a deserving scholarship recipient who is a member of a Hispanic low-income family and meets the following criteria: a 3.7 minimum GPA, a college in mind and an area of interest in business.

    “At JetStream, we feel the need to help the professionals of tomorrow by providing them with the tools they need today for a better future,” said Vanessa Miranda, manager of HR and community outreach for JetStream. “The grant will go directly into the hands of a deserving local Hispanic low-income student.”

    This collective of credit unions is proof the industry sees the Hispanic community as important to the future of the movement. Kudos to each of you for the continued effort to reach and serve this influential and growing segment.

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    Meeting Hispanics Where They Are: Online and on Mobile

    Posted by on November 20, 2017

    Google recently surveyed more than 4,500 U.S. Hispanics ages 18-64 about their preferences related to online sources, digital ads and search. The study found U.S. Hispanics use online sources at a higher rate (54 percent) than the general population (46 percent) throughout the purchase journey. It also found:

    • Hispanic consumers tend to favor online sources over family, radio and TV.
    • 79 percent of those surveyed said they use search engines on a daily basis.
    • 68 percent of the respondents who use search engines at least monthly do so on their mobile devices.
    • More than half of respondents who use online sources use their smartphones specifically to gather information before making a purchase.

    How can credit unions and other organizations dedicated to serving the underserved Hispanic community meet them where they already are – online and on mobile? Below are a few examples of online and mobile resources being tapped by organizations to do just that.

    Crowdfunding
    According to Pew Research, 16 percent of Hispanics have contributed to a crowdsourced fundraising project. Since it launched in 2010, do-it-yourself crowdfunding website GoFundMe has raised more than $4 billion for personal causes from more than 40 million donors. When a licensed clinical social worker was struggling to afford providing low-cost mental health treatment to uninsured Spanish-speaking individuals in Louisville, Ky., for example, she turned to GoFundMe. She is currently well on her way to reaching her $5,000 goal to enable to her to continue providing therapy.

    Putting a twist on the GoFundMe model, PayPal just launched Money Pools, a service that lets people create pages to fundraise for a specific item or effort among family and friends. Could this become a digital tanda? Although the service is too new to have data on usage rates, the focus on family and friends could resonate among many within the Hispanic community.

    Social Media Influencers
    One way for an organization to increase its reach within a certain segment of the population is to connect with those who have influence inside that segment. Consider starting with the top 25 Hispanic influencers on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. If your credit union has, for example, an important message to share with Hispanic members about helping children save for college, you could simply share with your social media followers. Or, you could try to get it in front of Jorge Narvaez, whose parenting-focused YouTube channel has more than 600,000 subscribers.

    Instagram Stories.
    After just one year in market, Instagram Stories has more than 200 million users – 50 million more users than Snapchat. At this rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018. A large portion of Instagram users, 38 percent, are Hispanic. In August, Instagram declared that JBalvin, an all-Spanish language music star, is the most-viewed Instagram Stories content provider in the U.S.. Brands interested in connecting with Instagram users, and with Hispanic Instagram users specifically, should consider mastering Instagram Stories. Here’s a how-to guide to get you started.

    Connecting with Hispanic consumers online requires not only understanding where they are, but also how they want to be connected with. Google’s study found that including culturally relevant content – food, family and traditions – resonates with U.S. Hispanics online. Consider incorporating content that Hispanic members care about or that which is unique to the Hispanic experience. While not as important as culture, language also matters. For some U.S. Hispanic consumers, Spanish and bilingual content are signals you want to engage with them.

    Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

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    Serving Aging Hispanics and the Family Members They Rely On

    Posted by on November 13, 2017

    Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65. By 2030, as the last Baby Boomers turn 65, older adults are expected to reach 20 percent of the U.S. population. What’s more, according to the Institute on Aging, 65 percent of older adults with long-term care needs rely exclusively on family and friends to provide assistance, and another 30 percent supplement family care with paid assistance.

    The HuffPost recently called growth of older Hispanics “the most prominent of rapid changes coming to the look and culture of the elderly in America.”

    Not only are Hispanics making up a growing percentage of older Americans, they also tend to be more likely to turn to family and friends first for assistance, before going to outside agencies.

    As one expert on grandparenting writes:

    In part this tendency can be traced to difficulties with English. Almost three-fourths of Hispanics speak Spanish in the home… In addition, Hispanics are more likely than the population at large to live in poverty and to be uninsured. These circumstances also may influence their tendency to seek help from friends and family.

    According to the Census Bureau, Hispanics are less likely than whites, blacks or Asians to live alone. In addition, they are more likely to want to stay geographically close to family members. They are seldom long-distance grandparents by choice.

    Credit unions are well-suited to serve both older Hispanic populations and the family members they turn to for help. Here’s how…

    A study of more than 400 residents of subsidized senior housing concluded that lower-income, older adults desire the following six banking services from their financial institutions (FIs):

    1. Low-cost, low-fee checking accounts
    2. Low-interest lending and credit products
    3. Assistance accessing public benefits
    4. Help avoiding financial abuse and fraud
    5. In-person customer service
    6. Early-intervention retirement planning

    It’s also important for your members who are faced with the responsibility of caring for their aging family members to know your credit union is there to support them. This can be in the form of products and services, such as guardian accounts, that make it easier for them to help their loved ones. It can also be in the form of consultative advice, information and resources, such as on a dedicated page of your website. Here are a few examples:

    Ally Bank
    Grove Bank & Trust
    Redstone Federal Credit Union
    ● SCE Federal Credit Union
    Veridian Credit Union

    As we look for ways to put the people helping people philosophy into action, it can be beneficial to proactively search for the people most in need of that help. Often, this requires getting outside our comfort zone and learning as much as we can about those individuals. Aging people of all cultures and backgrounds have unique needs with far-reaching impact. How can your credit union look more closely at this market to make retirement years some of the best in your members’ lives?

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    These Are the Social Platforms Most Important to Hispanic Consumers

    Posted by on October 30, 2017

    There’s no question social media is an important channel for engaging Hispanic consumers. According to recent research by Viant, nearly 50 percent of Hispanic shoppers reported they had either discussed a brand online with others or used a brand’s hashtag in social messaging (this compared to 17 percent of non-Hispanic shoppers).

    Analyzing social media habits by channel, Viant said Hispanic Millennials are more active on Twitter and Instagram compared to non-Hispanic Millennials. However, the amount of time spent on Facebook is relatively similar between the two groups.

    Another platform that should not be discounted is video. In its report How Hispanic Consumers Engage with YouTube, Google shares some interesting insights:

    — 75 percent of Hispanics go to YouTube first when they want to learn more about a product or service by watching a video

    — Nearly 1 in 2 Hispanic smartphone video viewers look for video content relevant to them as Hispanics and are more likely to watch ads that contain aspects of Hispanic culture

    — Of U.S. Hispanics who visit YouTube at least once a month, 60 percent watch videos in English always/most of the time; 28 percent watch videos in English and Spanish equally; and 12 percent watch videos in Spanish always/most of the time.

    — 83 percent of Hispanic video viewers will read or post comments, watch recommended videos or like or rate videos

    BEST PRACTICE: To achieve the best results when engaging Hispanic consumer segments through YouTube and other social media channels, ensure the content is culturally relevant and language appropriate.

    How One Credit Union is Engaging Members on YouTube

    Ascentra Hispanic Youtube channelAscentra Credit Union in Bettendorf, Iowa, is leveraging the power of YouTube to engage consumers through a video series called Ascentra Making Cents. New videos focused on financial topics like credit scores, the home buying process, spending plans, tax returns and the credit union difference, are available monthly on Ascentra’s YouTube channel.

    The credit union is currently in the process of adding Spanish subtitles to the videos using funds it received from the 2017 Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant for Hispanic Outreach.

    “This will give us some content in Spanish that we can share on social media to interact in a new way with current members, future members and any Spanish-speaking individuals worldwide,” said Alvaro Macias, Ascentra’s AVP of community development. “These videos will be shared with our community partners, such as Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities, Esperanza Legal Assistance Center and the Floreciente Neighborhood Association – a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in Moline, Illinois, for them to share through their networks.”

    Ascentra also has a highly successful Facebook page, with nearly 2,500 followers and frequently updated content focused on Ascentra’s community involvement, as well as product and service updates.

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    3 Credit Unions Set Sights on Next-Level Community Outreach

    Posted by on October 16, 2017

    The 2017 Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant will help seven credit unions continue their Hispanic outreach and community impact efforts. Named in honor of the late Warren Morrow, who dedicated his life and career to helping the underserved and empowering the Hispanic community, the grant is made possible by Coopera, CUNA and the National Credit Union Foundation. Each of the grant recipients is a Juntos Avanzamos-designated cooperative, a program taken to the national stage by the Federation.

    This post details how three of the grant recipients plan to allocate the funds. We will cover plans of the remaining four recipients in an upcoming post.

    Members Credit Union (MCU)
    With its grant funds, MCU will purchase two Spanish electronic seminar kits from CUNA and materials for financial education sessions with Hispanic youth. The credit union will then partner with local organizations to conduct the seminars.

    “Along with financial education, we will bring opportunity for membership in a safe, Hispanic-friendly financial cooperative where they will receive low-cost services that are relevant to their lives and financial counseling to help them meet their goals,” said Kathy Chartier, MCU president/CEO. “We often see members and potential members who are taken advantage of by large banks and predatory lenders. This program is specifically directed toward the Hispanic community with the goal of helping them improve their financial understanding and well-being.”

    Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union (NECCU)
    NECCU will use the grant funds to serve more of the Hispanic population within its community, including expanding outreach efforts to local schools and local organizations to help promote financial education.

    “NECCU offers a comprehensive level of bilingual financial services to impact the needs of our target market,” said NECCU President/CEO Sue Cuevas. “We integrate financial services with education to improve members’ financial competency. In addition to basic financial services, staff deliver one-on-one orientations to new members when they inquire about share savings or share certificates of deposit. This empowers members with tools to understand their financial situations, set goals and develop paths to asset building/ownership.”

    Point West Credit Union
    Point West has partnered with a local organization serving Hispanic families with a range of programs. The grant funds will allow a Point West employee to hold regular hours at the organization’s headquarters to assist Hispanic clients with account opening, lending needs and basic financial services and fiscal management.

    “Point West is endeavoring to engage the local Hispanic community where they live, work, socialize and seek assistance and services, while also testing a branching model outside of the traditional brick and mortar solutions,” said Steve Pagenstecher, Point West vice president of member experience. “By providing a full-service ATM coupled with an experienced and educated Point West employee, the goal is to increase access to an underserved community while driving Hispanic membership growth and financial outcomes for the community.”

    Please join me in congratulating each of these cooperatives for recognizing that serving the Hispanic community is not only the right thing to do, it’s smart business, as well.

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    Serving a Consumer Powerhouse: Younger Hispanic Women

    Posted by on October 9, 2017

    A Nielsen report released last month details the growing consumer power and influence of Hispanic females living in the U.S. According to the report, Latina 2.0: Fiscally Conscious, Culturally Influential & Familia Forward, this demographic grew 37 percent between 2005 and 2015, compared to 2 percent for their non-Hispanic White counterparts and 11 percent for total women in the U.S. Younger Hispanic women are also outpacing the rest of the nation in buying power.

    Below are a few key findings in the report, along with actions credit unions should consider – especially as we close out another successful National Hispanic Heritage Month.

    Entrepreneurship
    The steep rise in the number of Hispanic women attaining higher education and entering the workforce is fueling a boom in Latina entrepreneurship. Hispanic females outpaced the total U.S. population for new business creation. Also, the total number of Hispanic female majority-owned firms grew more than three times the rate of total female majority-owned firms and more than two times the rate of Hispanic male majority-owned firms.

            Credit union actions: Consider starting a program to provide young entrepreneurs access to capital, mentorship and networking opportunities – with a special focus on Hispanic women.

    Cultural Ties
    Ties to culture and language remain important to many Hispanic women in the U.S. In fact, 74 percent over the age of five speak a language other than English at home. Although at least 81 percent of U.S. Hispanic females speak English well, 95 percent of those who are foreign-born and 59 percent of those who are U.S.-born speak at least some Spanish at home.

            Credit union actions: Ensure your products, services and marketing materials are culturally relevant and language appropriate for Hispanic members.

    Use of Mobile
    For many Hispanic women, communication is paramount, and smartphones are the tech device of choice. This demographic spends, on average, 22 hours weekly watching videos and using apps or the Internet on their smartphones. Hispanic women over-index against non-Hispanic white women by 15 percent for smartphone ownership and spend more time watching videos on their smartphone than women in general.

            Credit union actions: When planning your mobile banking and payments strategies, recognize Hispanic females as a key audience. Consider holding focus groups or other forums for getting feedback from a cross-section of members. When possible, incorporate video into your Hispanic-focused communications strategy.

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