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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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    Get to Know Kenia Calderon

    Posted by on November 6, 2017

    Continuing our get-to-know series, this blog post features Kenia Calderon, client relations associate for Coopera.

    How did you end up working for Coopera?

    In 2014, I participated in the Latina Leadership Initiative, a leadership program for young Latina women in Iowa. Miriam De Dios Woodward, Coopera’s CEO, presented about the opportunities in the underbanked and unbanked Hispanic market. I could relate to her presentation, as I grew up in an underbanked household. I was intrigued by the topic and by her personal story.

    I reached out to Miriam because I was interested in learning more about Coopera and her career path. I was a sophomore in college, unsure of what I wanted to do after graduation, and meeting Miriam gave me hope of someday finding a job that would make a positive impact in the Hispanic community. She was looking for a summer intern at the time, and I applied. Fortunately, I was offered the internship, and I’m still here, now serving as a client relations associate!

    What does your typical day look like?

    I work to ensure we are exceeding our partners’ and our own expectations. Assisting our clients through their Hispanic Growth Strategy is by far my favorite part. This comes in different forms, such as helping them find local resources, sharing my personal experiences and expertise during a consulting meeting or working together to create new staff training materials.

    I am constantly learning about our clients’ needs, objectives and culture. My daily goal is to help our clients get a step closer to becoming the preferred financial service provider for their local Hispanic community.

    What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

    “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

    This is a great reminder for someone like me who likes to be challenged and embraces change. My mind is always running too fast for my body to keep up. Therefore, I need to remind myself to slow down and ensure that I have the necessary resources, health and energy to keep going on this marathon called life.

    What gets you out of bed in the morning?

    My love for life and humanity. I’ve always devoted my time and energy to causes that matter. My position at Coopera is no different because we help our partners grow their organizations and improve the lives of my Hispanic community. Fortunately, I found a job that I love and enjoy every day.

    I also can’t stay still for very long, so staying in bed all day is not an option.

    What excites you the most about the future of financial services in the Hispanic market?

    The impact credit unions have yet to make. By meeting the needs of Hispanics in their communities and becoming their preferred financial services provider, credit unions will not only help Hispanics reach economic stability, but credit unions, themselves, will experience growth in membership, product usage, market penetration, etc. The opportunity is knocking on their doors; it is up to them to embrace this community in need.

    Where do you go/what do you do to get inspiration?

    Remember how I said I couldn’t stay still? Well, I coach an eighth-grade volleyball team, direct a Hispanic youth choir, volunteer with immigrant service organizations and meet with Hispanic high school students to talk about their college plans.

    I’m active in my local Hispanic/immigrant community because it took a village for me to graduate from college. Therefore, it is my duty to give back and invest my time in the future generation of Hispanic leaders. My community inspires me to continue moving forward as we reach new opportunities together.

    What is something unique about you most people wouldn’t know?

    I have a great appreciation for art. When I was younger, I took any opportunity I had to create things with my hands from pottery to paintings. My senior year in high school, I made All-State in Iowa for my diverse art portfolio. Art is the one aspect of my life that I enjoy the most as it forces me to slow down and relax. Most of my pieces showcase my culture, life experiences and Salvadoran background.

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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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    Get to Know Miriam De Dios Woodward

    Posted by on October 2, 2017

    Although they have taken their own paths to get to Coopera, all of our employees share a common passion: reaching and serving the Hispanic market. Hear their stories and learn what makes them tick through this series of get-to-know blog posts, starting with our CEO, Miriam De Dios Woodward.

    How did you end up working for Coopera?

    By happenstance. I was working at John Deere Financial when I received a call from my former supervisor at State Farm Insurance. Her husband had started a company working with credit unions, and he was recruiting for the company’s first open position. I applied for the job, and that’s when I met Warren Morrow, Coopera’s founder. Warren’s vision for the future of Coopera was so captivating I felt I needed to become a part of what he was building. I was hired as the first employee of Coopera more than 10 years ago, and the rest is history.

     

     

    What does your typical day look like?

    My days can vary quite a bit, which I love. I might be traveling to visit one of our clients to facilitate a planning session with their leadership team. Or I might have a couple conference calls with our clients or one-on-one meetings with my team. I might review some of our communications drafts before they are published or talk to a reporter. I have exposure to all aspects of our business. I also really enjoy the time I have to think about the company’s future. How we can continue to stay ahead of our clients’ needs is always on my mind.

    What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

    I’ve received lots of great advice over the years. Some of my favorites have been: Be a selfless leader.Be humble.Remember that as a leader, people are always watching you. Have fun.

    What gets you out of bed in the morning?

    Sometimes it’s our cat meowing at the crack of dawn. Joking aside, it’s knowing that it’s a new day in which I have the opportunity to make a difference. I am fortunate to work for a mission-based organization where I can see how our work impacts the lives of people every day. My presentation to an organization can spark someone’s interest in becoming a champion for inclusion. Our consulting advice can prompt a client to offer a new lending program that serves people not served before. Possibilities like this motivate me.

     

     

    What excites you the most about the future of financial services in the Hispanic market?

    The vast opportunity at hand. Although we have worked with a variety of organizations over our decade of service, we really have yet to scratch the surface. Access to financial services is the key to empowering our Hispanic community, and we have a lot of work to do. Credit unions continue to have a unique disposition to serving the Hispanic community and becoming the preferred financial services provider for the Latino community. I am excited to help our industry pick up the pace and position credit unions as leaders in this space.

    What do you do to get inspiration?

    I love to travel with my husband, especially outside of the country. Going somewhere new inspires me to step outside of what I do every day, try new things, think more clearly and be more curious. I also like to read and listen to all sorts of content, from Simon Sinek’s daily notes to inspire to the Harvard Business Review’s publications. I also love to meet people for tea or lunch and connect with them, especially people outside of my industry.

    What is something unique about you most people wouldn’t know?

    Growing up, my family moved close to 20 times as we settled from our move from Jalisco, Mexico, to the U.S. Through my travels, I’ve been fortunate to see Pope Francis, climb a volcano, walk on a glacier and ride in a helicopter, among other adventures. On my bucket list is visiting every continent at least once.

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    What Credit Unions Need to Know about Debt Aversion in the Hispanic Culture

    Posted by on September 28, 2017

    Over the next few months, we will write on a series of financial inclusion topics as they relate to the Hispanic culture. This first one focuses on an aversion to debt that exists within many segments of the Hispanic population. It also offers ideas for credit unions on how to provide education and value in this area.

    Why do Hispanic consumers tend to avoid debt?

    Although there’s no one right answer to this question, it’s important to remember conventional banking as we know it in the U.S. may not be part of the traditional Hispanic upbringing. As Glenn Llopis, founder of the Center for Hispanic Leadership, wrote in a HuffPost blog post, “This has led to a general mistrust of banks and, when coupled with a natural skepticism, would account for the $53 billion attributed to ‘unbanked’ Latino households (according to a research arm of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business).”

    We see the effects of debt aversion in higher education, as well. According to Hilda Hernandez-Gravelle, senior research fellow for the Institute for College Access & Success, several cultural factors contribute to the difficulty Hispanic students often experience when it comes to securing financial aid for college. These include fear of debt, mistrust of lenders and conflict between family obligations and educational aspirations. “While Latinos generally have a strong commitment to education, many believe that if you can’t afford to pay for it up front, you can’t attend,” Hernandez-Gravelle writes.

    How can credit unions help?

    Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to financial education.

    It’s important to remember different cultures and financial classes have different perspectives on money and financial services providers. For example, as psychologist Miquela Rivera, PH.D., points out, for first-generation, low-income Hispanics, accumulation of money might be, at first, the main goal. Later, they may realize money in itself is not a satisfier, but that satisfaction comes from doing what they want in life, without excessive financial worry.

    “Latino students who are financially literate must view money as a means, tool or resource for getting things done, not an end in itself,” Rivera writes. When credit unions help their Hispanic members achieve this mindset, those members begin to see more clearly the importance of establishing credit and that debt, when managed responsibly, can actually be beneficial.

    Focus on cultural needs vs. language barriers.

    Rather than focusing on literacy and word-for-word translations, Principal’s Hispanic Market Program focuses on context and cultural needs to engage Hispanics in retirement savings. The program promotes a “transcreate vs. translate” ideology, focusing on context in written educational materials rather than the word-for-word translation. Also built in is incorporating simplicity in presentations and correcting misinformation, such as the kind that leads to distrust in financial institutions.

    Credit unions should take a similar approach to educating Hispanic members and prospective members about debt and creditworthiness.

    Build trust and credibility.

    Llopis recommends offering culturally relevant and language-appropriate products and services backed by bilingual staff. He adds it’s also important to show genuine concern for the community – for example, by active involvement in Hispanic issues and sponsorship of local events. The community will be more likely to trust the education a credit union offers if it’s playing an active role in the betterment of their daily lives.

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    This Is What Happens When Small CUs Think Big

    Posted by on September 26, 2017

    This article originally appeared on CUinsight

    Some of their best ideas come to them after hours, when the halls of the credit union are quiet and they’re free to think beyond the day-to-day business of serving members. That’s precisely when Dustin Fuller and Deke Alexander, executives for Living in Fulfillment Everyday (LiFE) Federal Credit Union in Denton, Texas, began to wonder aloud about a credit union mission trip.

    Deke Alexander and Pastor Kelvin meet with a church elder in a sugar cane village outside of Haiti.

    No strangers to the life-changing impact of church-sponsored mission trips, Fuller, LiFE’s CEO, and Alexander, the cooperative’s chief lending officer, envisioned immediate potential. Not only would a trip like that impact countless lives in poverty stricken countries, it could also create a completely immersive and fulfilling experience for both staff and the credit union’s members.

    “Credit unions have an outstanding opportunity to change the employee experience that goes far beyond the 9-to-5,” said Alexander. “As employers, we’re often focused on tangible employee benefits, like dental and vision care or sales incentives and PTO. Yet, creating a culture that allows employees to improve lives in villages thousands of miles away – that’s hugely beneficial. You then transform everything. Suddenly a run-of-the-mill transaction at the teller window brings about the realization that serving this member allows our credit union to serve someone else in the third world.”

    The Plan Takes Shape

    That night, before the after-hours brainstorm had concluded, the two solidified a plan to coordinate two mission trips in two years. The first will take place in the Dominican Republic this November; the second in Mexico during 2018.

    For each mission trip, LiFE will partner with area churches experienced in the local cultures and versed in the specific needs of the people. Their focus will be on helping villages gain access to clean drinking water. They will also work to develop longer-term relationships with the villagers, many of whom Alexander says have access to Facebook, affording LiFE staff the opportunity to maintain those connections once back in the states.

    Engaging LiFE Members in the Mission

    Beyond employees, Fuller and Alexander, both of whom have participated in several mission trips to the Dominican Republic, are also intent on bringing the credit union’s members into the initiative. After working with Coopera to learn more about the credit union’s Hispanic membership, LiFE executives learned a significant portion of the member base has ties to the Mexican culture. Therefore, Fuller and Alexander believe, the second of the planned mission trips will be particularly important to the membership.

    “Our first mission to the Dominican Republic will include credit union members who know the trip and the culture extremely well,” said Alexander. “They will serve as guides to help train our staff, some of whom will actually lead the second trip to Mexico.

    “We’d love to open up the trips to even more members in the future because we see it as a way to bond employees and members over something other than financial matters,” continued Alexander. “This will create a more intimate understanding of what can really happen when we put our hands and feet to work together. There’s a multiplying effect.”

    To raise funds for the mission trips, LiFE is coordinating a golf outing called the Impact Life Golf Tournament Oct. 14, 2017 in McKinney, Texas. With the money raised, the credit union and its partner churches will buy the water filters they need to install once in the villages.

    The Multiplying Effect of Living Our Purpose

    “When you think about it, these trips strike right at the heart of what we do,” said Alexander. “For us, LiFE is about ‘Living in Fulfillment Every Day.’ A big piece of that is helping our employees see the fruits of their labor. We want to show our staff what it really means to make an impact, and to be a blessing to others.

    “Our hope is this will inspire other small credit unions to think big,” said Alexander. “We want everyone in the movement to see it’s possible to get outside the 9-to-5, outside the SEG group, even outside their local communities. Let’s go on an adventure together, make lives better and come back changed people.”

    For more information concerning supporting this event, email info@lifefcu.com.

     

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    Small Ideas, Big Change: Ways to Make Your Organization Stronger

    Posted by on September 19, 2017

    Earlier this month, I had the privilege of joining eight other local leaders in sharing 10 ideas for the Des Moines Business Record’s “90 Ideas in 90 Minutes” event. The experience was truly inspiring and educational.

    From Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert’s reminder to applaud others and not take our employees for granted to Des Moines University President Angela Franklin’s advice to embrace change and maintain open minds, the ideas shared will strengthen organizations of all sizes and in every industry.

    Below are a couple ideas I shared during the event that are near and dear to my heart. (To watch the entire presentation, check out the recording on YouTube.)

    Encourage Personal Development Plans
    Employees who are not engaged and growing professionally not only challenge an organization’s ability to innovate and grow; they can be incredibly damaging to the business. A Gallop poll found nearly half of employees are disengaged. Another 18 percent are actively disengaged, meaning they are purposefully undermining their coworkers and sabotaging projects.

    At Coopera, we have found that one successful business practice to help avoid this situation is to ensure all employees have personal development plans. These plans are not complicated. We have a simple template with three sections:

    ● Objectives employees want to accomplish
    ● Strengths they want to work on
    ● How they’re going to accomplish it and by when

    As leaders, in addition to having our own personal development plans, our roles are to make sure employees are accountable to their plans, help them find the resources they need to accomplish their objectives and coach along the way to help them renew their goals. Resources can include anything from internal and online trainings to live events and mentorship opportunities.

    Champion Inclusion
    Our nation’s workforce is undergoing a rapid and significant transformation. We are more ethnically and racially diverse than ever before. And the verdict is in: As we look at studies, diversity and inclusion in the workplace benefit the bottom line of any organization.

    As the world becomes more multicultural, and the more untapped and underserved markets emerge, it’s essential to be more representative of the constituents we serve. No matter how small or large an organization, there are simple ways to champion inclusion every day:

    ● Ask questions. Challenge the status quo.
    ● Promote diversity with your suppliers, vendors and partners. For example, break the mold by bringing in caterers that represent different parts of your community.
    ● Celebrate differences. We just entered National Hispanic Heritage Month. This celebration and others like it are great opportunities to provide information about cultural and ethnic differences.
    ● Think about the underrepresented and emerging populations within your community. Is there an opportunity to provide them with more access to your services?

    For more ideas and inspiration, check out the 2017 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes e-book and videos.

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    Keeping Lending Products Accessible for Hispanic Borrowers

    Posted by on August 7, 2017

    By making a few key adjustments to your traditional lending products, you can make inroads with an entire segment of Hispanic borrowers looking for your services.

    It’s no surprise that the Hispanic segment of the U.S. population is growing, increasing from 17 percent of the population in 2015 to an expected 29 percent in 2020 (according to U.S. Census figures). With that increase comes a growing demand for culturally-appropriate lending services, which is an exciting opportunity for credit unions looking to grow Hispanic memberships.

    Access to credit is a key stepping stone for many Hispanic families, opening the door to greater financial and economic stability. Small-dollar loans also are a necessity for many Hispanic individuals, particularly those looking for financial help in completing the immigration and naturalization process. Without assistance, the application and processing fees associated with filing for U.S. permanent residency or U.S. citizenship can be out of reach for many immigrants.

    By keeping a few key factors in mind when designing lending products, credit unions can expand the reach of their offerings to connect with Hispanic members and create lasting relationships.

    Affordable products

    Product affordability is key for many Hispanic members. Keeping application fees low (or non-existent) and capping interest rates to keep monthly payments affordable will make lending products more appealing to multiple segments within the larger Hispanic community.

    Redefine creditworthiness

    Hispanic immigrants and other non-U.S. citizens may not always fit the traditional “borrower” profile. Yet, members of this segment can become loyal, profitable members. Instead of turning to traditional tools like a FICO score, consider looking at things like rent or telephone payment histories. Available through services like LexisNexis or Clarity, these alternative credit indicators can provide your lending team a view of a potential borrower’s ability to meet financial obligations.

    Cultural competence

    Some Hispanic segments prefer to speak in their native language when discussing complex and personal things like finances. Having bilingual staff and materials is key to helping your Hispanic members, particularly those new to the cooperative, understand the associated fees and requirements for lending products, and to feel more confident in their financial decisions.

    By adjusting a few elements of your traditional lending process and products, you can better connect with Hispanic borrowers and create mutually beneficial and long-term relationships that drive growth. If you’d like more information on how Coopera’s staff can help you do that, please let us know.

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