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  • Members Credit Union Grows Hispanic Membership with Financial Education

    Posted by on May 7, 2018

    Continuing our series of blog posts providing updates on 2017 Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant recipients, today we’re following up with Members Credit Union in Cos Cob, Connecticut.

    With the grant funds it was awarded, Members Credit Union was able to purchase Spanish seminar-in-a-box kits from CUNA, as well as materials for financial education sessions with Hispanic youth. Partnering with local organizations to conduct seminars has been a successful strategy for the Connecticut credit union.

    More than 80 consumers participated in three seminars Members Credit Union conducted in late 2017:

    In October, the credit union partnered with Family Centers to host a Spanish financial education seminar for parents who live in low-income housing. The following month, Members Credit Union conducted a Spanish financial education seminar for participants of People Empowering People. In December, the credit union hosted a seminar for Family Centers staff, many of whom are Hispanic. The focus of that event was on both personal finances and services available to their Family Centers clients.

    “Each one of the completed seminars brought new members to the credit union, and referrals from our ‘first generation’ of new members are spreading and also yielding new members,” said Kathy Chartier, Members Credit Union president/CEO.

    One of the participants in the November seminar owns Latin Colors magazine. During the seminar, he gave a testimonial about how he has benefited from his relationship with Members Credit Union. He is also giving the credit union the opportunity to share financial education in Spanish in every issue of Latin Colors throughout 2018 in addition to partnering on future seminars.

    Members Credit Union also has plans to continue offering seminars in 2018, including:

    •  Sessions with elementary and middle school students involved in the Family First program
    •  Financial education seminars in Spanish, in cooperation with Latin Colors magazine
    •  Auto buying seminars in Spanish with Building One Community
    •  A full evening financial education class in partnership with People Empowering People

    The credit union is already seeing results from its financial education efforts in terms of Hispanic membership and loan growth. In 2017, the credit union brought in 73 new Hispanic members (39 percent of all new members), compared to 23 (12 percent of new members) in 2016.

    “The seminars, and the word-of-mouth referrals they have created, are probably our greatest source of new members and loans in 2017,” Chartier said.

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    Case Study: Targeted Programs Focus on Members’ Lifestyle Needs, Not Cultural Differences

    Posted by on May 7, 2013

    What follows is a case study excerpt from the Hispanic Opportunity Report developed as part of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ newly formed partnership with Coopera.

    In 2004, Great Basin Federal Credit Union of Reno, Nev., recognized how fast the Hispanic population was growing in Washoe County. Indeed, it was projected to reach over 30 percent of the county’s population in the coming decades. The credit union’s leadership knew it was the right time to showcase its differences from other financial institutions (FIs) in the area. Offering better programs and services to meet the financial needs of Hispanic consumers was one way they set out to do just that.

    “Great Basin strives to enrich the lives of its members, regardless of heritage or nationality, through education and financial excellence,” said Elisabeth Hadler, Great Basin FCU marketing manager. “As a financial cooperative that focuses on service, not profits, we work to build personal relationships with our members to best understand what they need from their financial institution.”

    Driven by its people-first philosophy, Great Basin FCU set out to implement Hispanic outreach efforts focusing on lifestyle needs rather than cultural differences.

    Before they could focus on outreach, Hadler said, Great Basin FCU worked to implement an internal infrastructure to accommodate their upcoming efforts. They hired more bilingual staff and gave pay raises to those staffers who learned Spanish. At one point, up to 50 percent of the staff boasted bilingual capabilities. Great Basin FCU also partnered with specialists to offer a series of diversity and language training programs for employees’ ongoing education.

    The cooperative also programmed its phone system to offer its menu and directory assistance in both English and Spanish, as well as set up a special voicemail inbox for Spanish-speaking members who were invited to leave messages with their specific questions or needs. Great Basin FCU also put processes in place to ensure Hispanic members who visited any of their branch locations were able to conduct all meetings and transactions with a Spanish-speaking employee.

    “Our membership responded really well to the processes we implemented to bolster our Hispanic outreach efforts,” said Hadler. “Through these steps, we were able to build loyalty with our current membership and gain an awareness and trust with prospective members.”

    Once the internal infrastructure was in place, Great Basin FCU turned its attention outward, said Hadler. To build relationships in the communities they serve, the cooperative also joined the local Hispanic chambers of commerce and encouraged employees to attend local Hispanic community events.

    The cooperative also initiated member workshops in Spanish to connect financial literacy with Hispanics’ particular banking needs, as well as to educate members about their home buying and credit-building programs. These workshops were designed to help members better understand the importance of building credit, how to maintain good credit and how to decipher a credit report, among other credit-related topics.

    Great Basin FCU also had implemented an indirect lending program for consumers to receive pre-approval and financing options on-site at local car dealerships. The program removed an extra step in the car-buying process, eliminating the need for the car-buying member to visit a Great Basin FCU branch location to complete the vehicle purchase.

    One popular program for Great Basin FCU members has been the Directo a Mexico program, noted Hadler. Directo a Mexico is a wire-service program designed to offer members a more affordable way to send money outside the U.S. Transfer processing fees are waived for core credit union members who transfer money from Great Basin FCU to another FI outside the United States that participates in the program. For customers who are not core members, transfer process fees can be as low as $10, compared to more costly fees of $35 for transferring money to FIs not part of the Directo a Mexico program.

    When the 2008 recession hit, it was a struggle for Great Basin FCU to maintain its outreach efforts, according to Hadler. “The economic downturn really limited the time and resources we were able to devote to our Hispanic outreach efforts,” said Hadler. “Because of the costs involved, we scaled back on our bilingual marketing materials, and we found it harder to retain bilingual staff. And with changes in compliance, we found it even more challenging to track and measure the success of our programs.”

    That said, Hadler noted the cooperative worked hard to keep programs like Directo a Mexico in place. As well, the credit union has continued its internal processes to offer members in person and over-the-phone service in both English and Spanish.

    “Over the years, Great Basin FCU has grown its Hispanic base to be more than 25 percent of the 150,000 members we serve,” concluded Hadler. “We’re proud that even in the face of economic uncertainties, we made the right decision, continuing to offer the financial programs and services the Hispanic market needs most.”

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    Reach Hispanics through Financial Literacy

    Posted by on April 23, 2013

    Financial literacy is one of the most critical services that your credit union can provide members, particularly the Hispanic community in your area. Many Hispanics in the U.S. today are underserved, turning to friends and family for loans, or worse to expensive check-cashing or payday loan establishments.

    With one out of two U.S. Hispanics being unbanked or underserved, your credit union has a tremendous opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of Hispanic members.

    Coopera client Security One Federal Credit Union in Arlington, Texas, believes financial literacy efforts need to focus on the whole family’s financial needs. This begins by teaching children about saving and the advantages of holding a youth account and goes all the way through to helping parents understand how to improve credit scores or secure loans. Also, Security One works to educate business owners on the importance of budgeting expenses, filing taxes and preparing for audits.

    Business Development Coordinator Danny Garcia said, “At Security One, we are focused on growing the Hispanic community’s ability to be more financially independent. Through our assistance and guidance, individuals are able to better themselves financially, which makes the whole community stronger. We take a holistic approach, networking and partnering with schools and universities, churches, as well as community organizations, like libraries, medical centers and government agencies, to promote financial literacy and the credit union difference.”

    Some of the events Garcia and the team at Security One have participated in include:
    – a bilingual presentation on the financial system to nearly 50 Hispanic church members
    – a presentation on the importance of saving to 20 middle and high school students
    – partnering with the local Head Start program to share information on basic budgeting
    – sessions on how to build credit and secure auto financing

    Garcia and the Security One team is also working closely with local groups to host an upcoming 4-day mobile event to help Hispanics secure the identification documents they need
    for financial services, like checking and savings accounts, as well as auto, home and business loans and Security One’s “Faith” accounts. “It can take a month or more for Hispanics to get an appointment at the Mexican consulate for a Matricula card,” said Garcia. “Through the mobile event, we help 200 to 300 people per day signed up for Matricula ID cards each day. That’s the kind of effort that makes a real difference.”

    As with any new program, it’s important not to recreate the wheel when developing financial literacy initiatives. To get started, you can utilize resources and opportunities available through community partnerships, Coopera and other industry partners to supplement your programs. As Garcia and Security One have proved, networking and community involvement are vital in a credit union’s outreach efforts.

    Other resources readily available to your credit union include:

    Spanish Seminars in a Box

    Each Spanish Seminar in a Box contains culturally relevant Spanish content for your seminar and all of the materials you need to facilitate a successful session. All you need to do is add the presenter and have your outreach plan in place.
    Basic Steps to Managing Your Money: Spanish electronic member seminar kit
    Access to Money with Credit:  Spanish electronic member seminar kit

    El Poder es Tuyo Updates
    4/15: How to use your tax refund
    4/22: Don’t be a victim of tax ID theft
    – 4/29: What you need to know about for profit colleges
    5/6: How the credit union can help your family
    5/13: Preparing financially for the unexpected

    Hispanic Outreach Webinars
    How to Create Culturally Relevant and Compliant Marketing Messages to Hispanics: May 7 at 2 p.m. CST
    3 Ways to Repackage a Credit Builder Loan for Hispanic Members: June 12 at 2 p.m. CST
    3 Ways to Partner with Hispanic Businesses: September 17 at 2 p.m. CST
    3 Ways to Create an Inclusive Culture to Serve Hispanics: Archived until August 20
    4 Key Non-Traditional IDs You Can Accept to Open New Accounts: Archived until September 13
    Adapting Products and Services to Serving Immigrant Markets Archived until October

    International Credit Union Leadership Program
    The International Credit Union Leadership Program brings emerging leaders from around the world to various credit unions, both in the U.S. and abroad, for intensive short-term credit union internships designed to broaden their professional expertise.

    The program is designed to facilitate idea exchanges, promote foreign language development, enhance cultural diversity and improve problem-solving skills as they relate to global credit union development and management. The program also focuses on helping credit unions find new ways to attract young members.

    – Apr. 7-May 11, 2013: Costa Rican participants intern in Alabama, Florida, Oregon or Washington
    June 9-22, 2013: U.S. participants intern in Costa Rica
    Oct. 6-Nov. 9, 2013: Brazilian participants intern in Texas, Oregon or Washington
    Jan. 12-25, 2014: U.S. participants intern in Brazil

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