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  • Watch for the Word ‘Half’ in Hispanic Consumer Studies

    Posted by on August 25, 2016

    As the child of Mexican immigrants, I grew up in a household that was unique in many ways from those of my friends and peers. One of the differences was that my parents paid bills, saved money and accessed credit outside the traditional financial system. Hindsight being what it is, I can now see how much of an influence those financial choices had on my eventual career path.

    Although it came with challenges, my non-traditional American childhood absolutely empowered me. Today, I feel so fortunate to be living out my passion – introducing more Hispanic consumers to the life-changing benefits of becoming a credit union member.

    What’s equally exciting to me is introducing more organizations to benefits of serving Hispanic consumers. As I travel the country, talking with credit unions, colleges and other consumer-centric organizations, I’m learning so much about how perceptions continue to shape reality.

    One of the perceptions that Coopera colleagues and I are working hard to reshape is this idea the Hispanic market is homogenous. In fact, there are many nuances to the culture. Let’s take a look at a few…

    Acculturation, Language & Immigration Spectrums

    Acculturation describes how quickly an individual or set of individuals adopts the behaviors, beliefs/values and attitudes of a new culture in addition to their native culture. The spectrum goes from un-acculturated through semi-acculturated to fully acculturated.

    It’s critically important for marketers and others to understand where their target market resides on the spectrum. For instance, a credit union that believes it is best suited to serving semi- or fully acculturated Hispanics will want to know members of these two segments prefer TV and print media outlets, while radio is important for the un-acculturated. In terms of product development, credit cards are common among fully acculturated Hispanics, but that is far from true for un-acculturated individuals.

    In addition to behaviors, values and attitudes, there’s also a spectrum of language preferences that vary from Spanish to bilingual to English. Immigration status, too, changes from recent arrival to established resident to U.S. born. All of these characteristics and preferences impact the way Hispanic consumers value (or don’t value) financial services to the quality of their lives.

    Financial Attitudes and Behaviors

    There is tremendous opportunity for credit unions to foster trust and expand the financial education of some Hispanic community segments. Saving for retirement, seeking financial advice, long-term goals, personal debt and financial confidence are areas that require special concentration across segments of the Hispanic market. Here again, however, there are differences between groups within the culture.

    This is why it’s so important to view the results of national studies, surveys and indexes with a grain of salt. Take, for instance, an extensive study of more than 1,000 Hispanic individuals between 25 – 70 with incomes of $25K or higher.

    Here are just a few of the findings from that particular national study:

    –More than half indicated a poor or very poor understanding of workplace-based retirement plans.

    –Half of respondents expressed a preference for Spanish communication and materials.

    –Respondents with lower incomes and those born outside of the U.S. place higher priority on funding near-term goals such as education for their children.

    When reviewing national studies, be mindful of the word “half.” Let it serve as a reminder of the great diversity that lies within the U.S. Hispanic community. If a particular study finds half of its respondents prefer Spanish, for instance, that could mean the other half did not.

    The biggest take away: It’s critically important to understand your local market needs. Like much of the general population, Hispanic consumers strive to improve their financial situation. At the same time, acculturation, language, immigration status and other characteristics such as age, income and country of birth, have a huge influence on how that value is applied day-to-day.

    While the Hispanic population continues to grow, it will continue to change. As you approach strategic planning season, consider whether your credit union could benefit from a local market study of the influential Hispanic consumers in the communities you serve.

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    Credit Union Adds Three Fresh Perspectives in One New Board Member

    Posted by on August 2, 2016

    Achieving a variety of inclusivity and diversity objectives is becoming more important for credit union boards of directors. One such board is that of Community 1st Credit Union in Ottumwa, Iowa. The Juntos Avanzamos-designated credit union recently welcomed Edith Cabrera-Tello to its board.
    Edith brings a unique perspective to the credit union’s leadership as the youngest director, as well as the only female and the only Latina on the board. We had the chance to sit down with Edith to chat about her appointment, as well as her insight on the important role credit unions play in the formation of good financial habits for today’s consumers.

    Eidth Linked InHow long have you been a member and board member of Community 1st?

    I’ve been a member of the credit union since 2011 and a board member since January 2016.

    What is your view of credit unions as a financial option for the Hispanic community?

    When my husband and I wanted to start our own business, we asked our bank for help. They denied our application for a loan. We then went to a credit union and received the support we were looking for. That’s when I learned more about credit unions and the services they offered.
    I also worked for a school as the Hispanic community outreach coordinator at the time. We would offer workshops and occasionally had someone from a credit union come talk about personal finances. That was a great opportunity for those in our community who are immigrants learn how credit unions could help us. They open doors for individuals simply by accepting an ITIN number (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). The credit union we worked with also provided financial support to make the workshops happen. That’s something no bank had offered to do.

    What changes have you seen in how Community 1st serves its members and specifically its Hispanic members since you’ve been a board member?

    I have noticed how many more services the credit union is working to make more inclusive for our community. ITIN lending has been quite beneficial, but they are not stopping there. They are continuing to look for ways to improve. The leadership has hired the right people to assist the community, too, which is incredibly important.

    How has the work with Coopera and receiving the Juntos Avanzamos designation impacted outreach to the Hispanic community?

    The designation is not only helping the Hispanic community; it’s helping everyone in our area. A lot of that has to do with awareness and exposure to new things. Take for example, board members working to properly pronounce Juntos Avanzamos. You can see their desire to do so correctly. They have seen the importance of the designation and all the efforts that come with it. They understand that the better we serve our community, the greater return there will be on the investment.

    Could you describe your experience as a board member of a credit union from the moment you decided to volunteer until now?

    It’s been pretty good. I am the only woman, the youngest and the only Latina on the board. I feel comfortable, and the other board members help me when I need it. They have so many years combined experience, I am learning from them while hopefully they are learning from me. It’s been incredible to see how they take the time to help the credit union grow.

    What advice do you have for any potential Hispanic board members thinking about or having been approached to serve on the board of a credit union?

    We need diversity on credit union boards. Being involved on the board not only allows directors to have a say on decision making specific to the credit union; it also allows that individual to support the larger community.

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