Continuing our get-to-know series, this blog post features Tania Perez, client support specialist for Coopera.
As a Latina, I have always wanted to work in a position where I would be able to help my community. When my friend reached out to me about this position, I didn’t hesitate to apply. Credit unions care about their members, and working for a company that works with credit unions to serve the Hispanic community is not only remarkable; it’s something that really stood out to me.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My family. I have always strived to make my parents proud. They have done so much for me, more than I will ever be able to repay them for. I also want to be a good role model for my younger brother. I want to show him that happiness comes in the form of doing what you love and that anything is possible.
What does your typical day look like?
In my role, I ensure Coopera’s products and services are properly delivered and fulfilled. This includes assessing and reporting, consulting, training, marketing and translating. Still being new to the Coopera family, I am learning a lot about the company, our clients… and plenty of acronyms!
Never be afraid to speak up. Communication is key to making sure everything runs smoothly in a workplace. Whether it’s a complaint or an idea you have to improve something, always speak up and express yourself.
What excites you the most about the future of financial services in the Hispanic market?
Everything! With the Hispanic market growing, I see a lot of opportunity for the community to have more access to products and services that would help them financially. These are complex topics, and knowing that things will be more accessible to the community is exciting.
I’m proud to say I tend to get my inspiration from friends and mentors. I am lucky to be surrounded by individuals who are striving to be the best they can be. I have friends who are in the process of taking the LSAT, applying to the Peace Corps, studying to be nurses and serving as activists for the community. Mentors from school or previous employers have also been extremely helpful and continue to show they care about my future. All these individuals inspire and truly motivate me to be the best I can be every day.
What is something unique about you most people wouldn’t know?
I love doing activities that involve a huge amount of adrenaline. For example, I have participated in bungee jumping, canyon swinging, zip-lining and rappelling. My parents tell me I was never afraid of heights as a child, so they think that’s where it comes from. Paragliding is next on my list!Leave a comment
If nothing else, the tumultuous 2016 election year revealed the extent to which American working families are struggling. More than 40 percent of American jobs today pay less than $15 an hour, and most of these low-wage jobs lack important benefits such as paid leave, health insurance or retirement. Low-income wage earners are no longer a small demographic relegated to select neighborhoods and geographies – they constitute a significant demographic block.
America is a country of immigrants. In the US, there are currently 46 million immigrants, representing 13% of the US population, or 1 out of 8 residents. Far from representing an economic burden, immigrants contribute greatly to our local economies by paying taxes, establishing small businesses, and creating jobs.
Numerous economists argue for the long-term economic need for robust immigration. Citing an aging native-born workforce, contributions to the tax base and job creation from immigrant entrepreneurs and businesses, progressive immigration policy is actually an important way to grow the economy. Immigrant workers make a significant contribution to government revenue. Undocumented immigrants collectively pay an estimated $11.64 billion dollars each year in state and local taxes. In Iowa alone, undocumented immigrants contributed $37.4 million in state and local taxes each year, according to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy.
Immigrants start small businesses and create jobs. Though they made up over 13 percent of the total U.S. population in 2014, immigrants represented almost 21 percent of our country’s entrepreneurs. In fact, according to the Kauffman Foundation, immigrants were almost twice as likely as the native-born population to start new businesses in 2015. These businesses created millions of jobs. In 2016, 40 percent of Fortune 500 firms had at least one immigrant founder or a founder who was the child of immigrants.
Serving immigrants is part of the history of the credit union movement, and a key opportunity for credit union growth. Immigrant members of community development credit unions (CDCUs) report strong loyalty to their credit unions, in many cases indicating the credit union as the only place they choose to do their banking. According to a joint CUNA-Coopera study, credit unions that have strategically invested in outreach to the Hispanic community, for instance, report faster loan growth and accelerated membership.
For this reason, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (the Federation), Coopera and the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals (NLCUP) are working together with key industry partners to grow and expand the Juntos Avanzamos Initiative. Juntos Avanzamos – Together We Advance – is a designation for credit unions committed to serving and empowering both U.S. born and immigrant Hispanic consumers. Immigrants are a large and vibrant part of our communities and a key audience in the low- and moderate-income communities that Community Development Credit Unions (CDCUs) serve.
Today there are 65 Juntos Avanzamos designated credit unions around the country meeting the tremendous demand in the immigrant market for safe and responsible loans and financial services. These institutions have demonstrated that serving immigrants is both a sustainable business strategy and vital to fulfilling our collective goal of helping people of modest means achieve financial independence. Designations are made based upon an application with a rigorous scoring system that grades credit union performance that considers membership served, products and services targeting Latino immigrants, bilingual and bi-cultural operations and staffing, bi-cultural leadership on the board and management team, and bilingual marketing, messaging and signage.
The Federation is now working with network partners to become centers of information (“Know Your Rights”) and referrals for free legal and social service providers. Juntos Avanzamos is transforming credit unions from institutions that serve a community into community centers able to organize, communicate and support immigrant wage-earners, families, young people and seniors.
At this time, it is critical that immigrants know their credit unions are here for them. Once a member, always a member!
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I recently appeared on an episode of the CU Broadcast to discuss the Hispanic market opportunity for credit unions. The host, Mike Lawson, and I talked through quite a few topics, most notably how credit unions can earn the trust of young, unbanked Hispanics.
The video is also archived at CUBroadcast.com, along with many other insightful episodes of the show. If you get a free minutes, visit the site and watch a few…Leave a comment
By Guest Blogger Michael Adams, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Greater Iowa Credit Union
In working with Coopera, we have found it important to get the structural components in place before launching any significant outreach to the Hispanic community. This includes things like laying a solid foundation complete with Hispanic-friendly membership policies, as well as securing employee, leadership and board support. Only after this can you begin to do the fun stuff, like product development or marketing.
Not everyone on a credit union’s leadership team or board of directors may be fully supportive of an Hispanic outreach program, and some products, such as ITIN loans, for example, may be downright scary to them. A vocal board member who is not on board can create barriers to any proposal. We discovered early on that some credit union administrators and board members can have a knee-jerk reaction to the creation of an aggressive Hispanic initiative.
More often than not, education regarding the needs of this community is necessary. Once you do get a good customer identification program in place and board support, you can begin the rewarding work of reaching out to the Hispanic community with products and services that are useful to them, such as remittance services, free checking, reloadable debit cards, ITIN and other culturally relevant loans.Leave a comment
By Guest Blogger Oscar Porras, Community Liaison at Maps Credit Union
The 2010 U.S. Census showed that the Hispanic population increased 43 percent since 2000. In our neck of the words (Oregon), we’ve seen a whopping 63.5 percent increase over the same period of time. An essential part of reaching out to our Hispanic neighbors is presenting products and services in a way that is culturally relevant.
At Maps Credit Union, in cooperation with Coopera, we are working to add some of the services that are most important to the Hispanic community, such as credit builder loans, remittance services and prepaid reloadable cards. We have set up inter-departmental teams to discuss these products, and we look forward to rolling out our first new product in the first quarter of 2012.
It has not been easy. There have been some challenges, including negative attitudes from a small number of staff. Then again, anything worth fighting for always brings challenges. We are working to address our internal and external issues through open and honest communication. Racism, stereotypes, and the like all come from misinformation. Educating staff about their new neighbors will help foster a credit union culture of acceptance and understanding.
I look forward to my new role as Community Liaison at Maps Credit Union and adding another wonderful piece to our credit union culture. I would love to hear about your challenges and victories as your institutions move toward a greater focus on welcoming the members of your local Hispanic communities.Leave a comment
There’s no better time than the present to begin preparing for 2012’s month-long celebration of the Hispanic heritage and culture, Hispanic Heritage Month.
Credit unions across the country found ways to engage with their local Hispanic community’s during last year’s Hispanic Heritage Month. Our VP Miriam De Dios recently shared a few of those efforts with Credit Union Magazine’s online readers. Below is an excerpt from that article. For more, visit creditunionmagazine.com.
All over the country, credit unions are discovering opportunities to participate in community celebrations. Maps Credit Union in Salem, Ore., is partnering with Western Oregon University to launch the Latino Education and Access Program, which helps Hispanic students further their education with scholarships.
Fundraising for the program will be kicked off by former Mexican President Vicente Fox.
Maps Credit Union will also be a silver sponsor of the Hispanic Heritage Month Breakfast, Oregon’s official kick-off celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Des Moines Metro Credit Union also plans to participate in its community’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations. The ninth annual Iowa Latino Heritage Festival will take place in Des Moines in September.
The credit union will not only have a booth at the festival to meet with current and potential members, it will also sponsor an elote (corn) eating contest.
How can your credit union participate in 2012’s Hispanic Heritage Month? It can be as simple as:
• Informing your members and the community about Hispanic Heritage Month events;
To read the full article, visit creditunionmagazine.com.Leave a comment
The following is an excerpt of a newly released white paper by Coopera’s Miriam De Dios covering the potential for reloadable prepaid cards in the Hispanic market. If you’d like a copy of the full paper, send me an email, and I’d be happy to send it over.
While our consulting capacity has allowed us to observe almost all best-practice tactics out there, we believe FIs that offer a reloadable prepaid card to the Hispanic market will be among those achieving the greatest success. Perfectly tailored to the Hispanic consumer, this type of offering has the potential to ease consumer financial pain, to build trust between cardholders and an issuing FI, and to generate fee revenue and loyalty from a powerful market.
For FIs interested in the Hispanic market, it makes sense to think in terms of products and services that would appeal to consumers who don’t have a traditional banking relationship already in place. Creating affordable alternatives to meet the needs of underserved Americans not only has the potential to get a foot in the door of the Hispanic community; it also helps your FI lead its customers down a path to financial responsibility.
Because they don’t allow for overspending, reloadable cards help underserved consumers manage their budget-conscious lifestyle. This puts issuing FIs in a position to nurture the financial growth of prospective members, quite possibly turning underserved consumers into some of their most loyal customers.
Before embarking on any Hispanic outreach, however, FIs must understand the importance of building trust slowly. While product offerings – such as reloadable prepaid cards – are a great start, adding a healthy Hispanic membership base truly is a longer-term effort requiring the support of FI staff and leadership.Leave a comment
Hispanics continue to be an important group for many of America’s states. Thanks to the newly published 2011 Hispanic Opportunity Report, commissioned by the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL), we understand even more about this population in the state of Texas.
A long-time partner of the TCUL and supporter of the Juntos Avanzamos designation, Coopera was commissioned to write the report to help Texas credit unions better understand data revealed by the 2010 Census.
Here are a few of the report’s highlights:
Two-thirds of the state’s growth over the past decade came from Hispanics.
Hispanic Texans are five times more likely to be unbanked than are the state’s whites.
Hispanics will comprise 53% of the state’s population by 2040, and whites will make up just 32%.
If credit unions attain 10% penetration of the state’s Hispanic adults, it would mean an estimated $326 million in total income and $3.5 billion in loans.
Of the nearly 1 million children added to the Texas population in the last decade, 95% of them were Hispanic.
In Texas, one in five dollars of purchasing power is in Hispanic hands.
We are pleased that TCUL has been so proactive in providing this report to its members. Texas is the first state to request specific information about credit unions’ Hispanic opportunity since the 2010 Census was finalized. Coopera believes the information in the report will motivate Texas credit unions to pursue this market more intentionally.Leave a comment
The 2010 U.S. Census revealed that one in six U.S. residents is Hispanic, and among children, it’s one in four. By 2050, analysts predict that statistic will soar to one in three.
When you look at the numbers, it’s easy to see why the term “emerging,” which has been used to describe the U.S. Hispanic community, isn’t really all that fitting today. For that reason, it’s no longer appropriate to think of the Hispanic consumer as someone your credit union may need to court in the future. Rather, you need to understand how to market to this type of consumer today.
In cooperation with CUNA, Coopera regularly surveys credit unions of varying sizes. This research has shown that a much higher concentration of credit unions have focused on serving the Hispanic market in recent years. Between 2008 and 2009, we found that the number of credit unions either executing or planning Hispanic-market programs more than tripled.
Undoubtedly you have witnessed the growth of the Hispanic market in either yours or a neighboring community. While getting ahead of the curve may no longer be possible, there is still a tremendous opportunity to tap into the power of this population now. We advise you not to wait another year.Leave a comment
By Guest Blogger Alejandro Alaniz, Account Relationship Specialist at Des Moines Metro Credit Union
I was hired at Des Moines Metro Credit Union (DMMCU) in February 2008 to lead DMMCU’s Latino outreach efforts for the credit union. I was very excited for the opportunity and to get going on the effort. The only problem was that I was a little scared and lost because I was the one who would be starting the main initiative for the push!
I am the first person here at DMMCU to be hired for this position, and there had been no previous precedent to look to. It was just me and Traci Stiles, DMMCU’s marketing director, to go out and show the local Latino community what a credit union is and why DMMCU is different from other financial institutions. The task seem large, but yet a fun one at that!
Before I joined DMMCU, they had done a great job of having Coopera’s Warren Morrow come in and talk to our board of directors about why it would be a huge benefit for DMMCU to start marketing to the local Latino community.
With his help and DMMCU’s management team, the board decided that it was indeed a good idea and jumped aboard. With the go ahead, Traci started a small and targeted marketing effort with Spanish materials to be handed out and also delivered to our SEGs.
Another important step DMMCU took was having a strategic planning session that included Coopera, the board of directors and our the management team . The planning session came up with a timeline and action plans to be accomplished by specified time frames in order to better gauge accomplishments. One important task was to hire a full-time bilingual employee to be the head of the effort.
That’s where I came in. I was excited by the fact that “I” would be the one starting a new outreach effort for DMMCU! My biggest hurdle to overcome was “Where do I begin?”
I had so many thoughts going trough my head, thinking of what options we had available. Do we send a mailing? Have an open house? Do T.V. commercials? Radio ads? Do we hire a banner plane? Ok maybe not the banner plane, but I didn’t know where to start.
Luckily Traci had some smart and simple ideas to get started. Stay tuned to this blog, as I’ll get into those smart, simple ideas next time!Leave a comment