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  • Greater Income Mobility among Hispanics Spells Opportunity for Credit Unions

    Posted by on July 16, 2018

    In our last blog post, we shared several stats that reveal how Hispanics in the U.S. are driving America’s economic growth. A recent study by Stanford, Harvard and Census Bureau researchers further confirms this point and signals additional opportunities for credit unions.

    The study shows Hispanics are escaping poverty and climbing the economic ladder at nearly the same pace as their white peers.

    THE RESEARCH

    •  Among Hispanics in the U.S. who grew up in the lowest income segment, 45 percent made it to the middle class or even higher, compared to 46 percent of whites.

    •  Of those who grew up in the lower middle class segment, 28 percent made it to the upper middle class or higher, compared to 35 percent of whites.

    •  Nearly half of Hispanic high school graduates, ages 18 to 24, were in college in 2016, up from just under a third in 1999.

    THE CREDIT UNION OPPORTUNITY

    Consider how you can help more Hispanic members become homeowners. As Hispanic income grows, so will the ability to buy homes and make other financial investments. In 2017, more than 167,000 Hispanics purchased a first home, taking the total number of Hispanic homeowners to nearly 7.5 million (46.2 percent of Hispanic households). Hispanics are the only demographic to have increased their rate of homeownership for the last three consecutive years. By offering a variety of home loan options supported by culturally relevant education, credit unions can help more Hispanics realize the dream of homeownership.

    Offer programs to help Hispanic members save for retirement. A recent survey found 71 percent of middle-income Hispanics feel they are behind on preparing for retirement, compared to 63 percent of the general population. At the same time, many have difficulty securing the financial services that can help them address these issues. The survey found 59 percent are unsure who to go to for financial advice and guidance; 53 percent say it’s difficult to find financial services companies that know how to help households like the ones they belong to; and 42 percent believe they have different financial planning needs than the average household. Fortunately, increasing income mobility will allow Hispanics to start saving for retirement sooner. Consider how your credit union can be the financial services provider many Hispanics are looking for to help with their retirement savings needs.

    Partner with high schools and colleges to offer financial education to students. While more Hispanics are attending college, their graduation rates tend to be lower than their white peers. A report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that 45.8 percent of Hispanic students who entered college in 2010 completed their degree within six years, compared to 62 percent of whites. This disparity could be the result of several different factors, including financial challenges. By offering culturally relevant financial education on topics like budgeting and student loans – as well as encouraging students to establish a relationship with a credit union before or during their college years – you can help more Hispanic students graduate from college and land higher paying jobs.

    While the numbers on Hispanic income mobility are encouraging, there is still work to be done. Who better to do it than credit unions?

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    Hispanics Are Driving U.S. Economic Growth. Here’s Why Credit Unions Should Care.

    Posted by on July 2, 2018

    Anyone curious about the Hispanic community’s contribution to the U.S. economy need not look any further than these stats from the first half of this decade, provided by the Latino Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Report:

    • At 2.9 percent, the U.S. Hispanic GDP experienced the third-highest growth rate in the world, behind only China and India. It was nearly 70-percent higher than the non-Hispanic U.S. GDP growth rate of 1.7 percent.

    • If it were an independent country, the U.S. Hispanic GDP would be the seventh largest in the world, larger than the GDP of India, Italy, Brazil or Canada.

    • While the non-Hispanic U.S. workforce shrank by about 4,000 workers, the Hispanic U.S. workforce grew by nearly 2.5 million, making possible an overall increase of 2.4 million in the U.S. workforce, ages 24 to 64.

    • The U.S. Hispanic college graduate population, ages 20 to 24, grew by 40.6 percent, compared to 13.6 percent for the non-Hispanic population in the same category.

    • As young Hispanics enter the workforce and older non-Hispanics leave it, the Hispanic GDP will account for an increasing portion of the total U.S. GDP growth, projected to be 24.4 percent of total U.S. GDP growth by 2020.

    What do these stats mean for credit unions?

    • As the Hispanic community’s impact on the U.S. economy continues to grow, so will its need for financial services. There’s never been a better time for credit unions to start (or grow) a Hispanic membership growth strategy. Those that don’t will find it increasingly difficult to grow their total membership, deposits and loan balances.

    • Young Hispanics will be an increasingly important pool of talent as credit unions grow and hire new employees. As college-educated Hispanics continue to enter the workforce at a faster rate than non-Hispanics, it’s important for credit unions to review their recruiting and hiring processes to ensure they are appealing to Hispanics.

    • Dispelling myths about Hispanics is a joint effort. Despite the above statistics, some segments of the U.S. population are not aware of the essential role Hispanics play in the success of the domestic economy. Consider ways you might partner with organizations and Hispanic leaders in your community to help tell the story.

    In short, the U.S. Hispanic community is growing in number, spending power, education and – for growth-minded credit unions – opportunity.

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    Through Partnerships (and Great Videos) Ascentra Credit Union Accelerates Financial Education Initiative

    Posted by on June 18, 2018

    Continuing our series of blog posts providing updates on 2017 Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund grant recipients, today we’re following up with Ascentra Credit Union in Bettendorf, Iowa.

    To fully understand the reason Ascentra Credit Union is using its grant funds the way it is, it’s helpful to consider two important stats:

    •  90 percent of Hispanic consumers stream video on their mobile devices.

    •  7 in 10 Hispanics regularly use YouTube.

    With the grant funds, the credit union has translated 16 video scripts into Spanish for a series of financial education videos. Not only are these videos available on Ascentra’s YouTube channel, they have also been airing on its local NBC affiliate, KWQC-TV, serving the Quad Cities area of southeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois. The videos are available on the television station’s website, as well.

    In addition, the grant funds enabled Ascentra to add Spanish subtitles to their existing financial education videos.

    “The Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant has been instrumental in providing lasting and ongoing content in Spanish for Ascentra’s Financial Wellness program,” said Alvaro Macias, Ascentra AVP of community development. “We are now in the process of working with our local Spanish/English newspaper Hola America News to use their social media channels to share these informative one-minute videos to effectively reach local Spanish-speakers.”

    Ascentra is also offering a series of financial education presentations in partnership with Esperanza Legal Assistance Center, a low-cost immigration service provider. The grant provided the funds needed to translate three presentations into Spanish. Spanish-language flyers were distributed throughout the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in which the center is located, and the content was also used to promote the seminar on Facebook.

    “We have plans to further utilize the translation services; we have some brochures that need to be translated and are planning to re-launch our website later this year,” Marcias said. “Our goal is to have the entire website available in Spanish.”

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    5 Financial Preferences of Multicultural Consumers

    Posted by on June 4, 2018

    Recent research by CUNA Mutual Group’s TruStage reveals interesting insights about the unique makeup and preferences of Hispanics and other multicultural consumer groups. Below are some of the key findings from the What Matters Now research along with what they mean for credit unions seeking to establish more meaningful relationships with multicultural consumers.

    Multicultural consumers have significant buying power.

    Over the past five years, multicultural consumer groups have accounted for 100 percent of U.S. population growth and 61 percent of credit union growth. The annual spending growth rate for Hispanics is 4.1 percent, compared to 1.4 percent for Whites.

    What it means for credit unions: Credit unions desiring to grow their memberships, assets and loan balances should place a strategic focus on their outreach efforts to Hispanics and other multicultural consumer groups.

    Hispanic appreciation for apps over-indexes other groups.

    Hispanic consumers are almost two times more likely than Whites to research financial products and services using mobile apps. Additionally, 17 percent of Hispanics reported applying for financial accounts and products through an app, compared to only 9 percent of Whites.

    What it means for credit unions: To be relevant to Hispanic and other multicultural consumers, credit unions should be investing in mobile strategies. These cooperatives should ensure their mobile apps have a Spanish language option and the experiences are culturally relevant to Hispanic consumers.

    Business loans are a desired product.

    Hispanics are nine times more likely than Whites to take out a small business loan in the next five years.

    What it means for credit unions: Invest in products and resources to help Hispanic entrepreneurs, such as small business-friendly loans, microloans and small-business financial education. Also, consider partnering with organizations that offer small business assistance, such as local Hispanic chambers of commerce and small business incubators.

    Hispanics prioritize ease of use.

    Twenty-three percent of Hispanics look for convenience in financial products and services, even if it means higher rates or fees, compared to only 9 percent of Whites. Flexible payment schedules and speed of lending are also more important to Hispanics than other groups.

    What it means for credit unions: No two consumers are exactly alike. Providing a range of product options and fee structures will help you be relevant to a wider range of consumer segments. Offering instant online loan approvals is one way to meet a need for many Hispanic consumers.

    Hispanic consumers tend to worry about finances.

    Every expense category studied by CUNA Mutual causes Hispanic consumers concern — sometimes up to 20 percent more than other consumer groups. At the same time, Hispanics tend to have a stronger sense of generosity and community than other consumer groups.

    What it means for credit unions: Think about ways to help relieve concerns for Hispanic consumers through relevant financial education and resources. Also, be sure to educate local consumers on the credit union philosophy of “people helping people,” and share stories of how your credit union and members are improving the lives of individuals and families in your community.

    As you apply these findings to your credit union’s Hispanic outreach strategies, be careful not to over-simplify the data. “When examining the research findings, it’s important to remember a person is made up of many unique cultural aspects,” said Opal Tomashevska, manager, multicultural business strategy, CUNA Mutual Group. “Be careful not to over-generalize or create stereotypes from this information and apply it to all members of a certain group. The data shows trends and significant differences but does not attempt to speak for every individual.”

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    Hispanic Women Have a Strong Desire to Save for Retirement

    Posted by on May 23, 2018

    A recent study on the significance of gender for Hispanic savings and retirement found two important things:

    1. Hispanic women have a huge appetite for financial education and a strong desire to save

    2. Their savings could provide a critical safety net to America’s largest minority group.

    “This study demonstrates that if financial information is communicated simply and respectfully, and in culturally and linguistically competent ways, Latinas, especially, will listen,” said Karen Richman, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the study, a collaboration between the National Endowment for Financial Education and the University of Notre Dame.

    Reasons for Low Retirement Savings

    Despite a desire to save, low earnings mean Hispanic women have much lower retirement account balances than any comparable demographic, the study found. Employment paths have a lot to do with these outcomes. According to the study, Hispanics switch jobs more frequently than other demographics. What’s more, they tend to accept positions that do not provide retirement savings benefits.

    The research went on to show that Hispanics with employer-sponsored retirement plans are 50 percent more likely than whites to make hardship withdrawals. Hispanic women are more likely than Hispanic men to liquidate pensions with a lump-sum payment or to spend rather than reinvest their savings when they change jobs. Additionally, Hispanic women tend to see retirement accounts as a source of liquidity. They may take loans and early withdrawals, often to help others, and they end up paying large penalties.

    How Credit Unions Can Help

    Below are a few key takeaways from the study and what they mean for credit unions.

    Hispanics have the highest labor participation, and yet the lowest retirement security. Hispanic women would benefit from workplace financial education, particularly during job transitions as they are deciding what to do with retirement accounts. Credit unions can provide financial education, as well as investment and savings products in a way that’s relevant to this influential and growing audience.

    Hispanic women tend to be the administrators of family finances. The female head of the family often makes tough decisions without knowing all the options. Credit unions can address Hispanic women’s appetite for financial education and desire to save through direct outreach, relationship building and financial education opportunities. A great way to gain a better perspective on what Hispanic women need is through the creation of a Latina advisory group.

    Hispanic men and women are equally likely to participate in collective financial practices based on “confianza,” or “mutual trust.” Credit unions should work to develop relationships with Hispanics based on trust. They should position themselves as a dependable resource for the community through product accessibility, bilingual staff and community investment.

    As this study reveals, a gap exists for Hispanic women in terms of saving for retirement. Credit unions, with their financial expertise and their people helping people philosophy, are well positioned to address this gap.

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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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    Get to Know Víctor Miguel Corro

    Posted by on April 16, 2018

    Continuing our get-to-know series, we’d like to introduce you to Víctor Miguel Corro, who joined the Coopera team earlier this year as client relations director.

    How did you end up working for a company focused on helping credit unions serve the Hispanic market?

    Victor after a long hike at Macchu Picchu in Peru

    I’m no stranger to the credit union world, and in a career-transition moment, things aligned to give me this great opportunity. It is a great fit personally, as I am a first-generation immigrant. I came from Panama and now live in Wisconsin. I remember coming to the U.S. and facing everyday struggles. Everything from trying to get a haircut to adjusting to the climate was difficult. I’d never experienced a day below 75 degrees in my life and now I was living in Wisconsin. Talk about building character!

    What gets you out of bed in the morning?

    Knowing I support my family though a career in a mission-driven industry that ultimately seeks to improve lives. When I wake up, I see that as one more day, one more chance to help somebody.

    What does your typical day look like?

    My day consists of helping Coopera’s clients reach more people who do not know the joy of being part of a credit union. I get to interact with clients and work with our wonderful team to help those clients be the financial entity of choice for the Hispanic community.

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

    Victor at a Florida credit union alongside a delegation from Brazil

    Be the proverbial bridge. That means working to connect people in spite of their background and differences. There is always common ground to be found, and that will push us all forward together.

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

    There is a growing understanding among credit unions that reaching an untapped market makes sense philosophically, and it also presents a strong business case. In my recent conversations with industry leaders, I have sensed the enthusiasm and a natural inclination to want to reach out and serve. The integration of technology is also a very exciting prospect for this market.

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

    A hammock in Panama does the trick every time! But when that’s not available, it’s a long bike ride or an old song.

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

    Victor with Oscar Arias, then president of Costa Rica

    My parents started a credit union back in my hometown in Panama. I was once a fifth-grade homeroom teacher. I have visited 89 countries (and not just the airport!). I have met six sitting heads of state in as many countries.

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    Santa Cruz Community Credit Union Sets Aggressive Goals to Help Hispanic Entrepreneurs

    Posted by on April 3, 2018

    (more…)

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    How JetStream FCU Sent an Important Message to a Hispanic High School Student

    Posted by on February 19, 2018

    In September 2017, we announced seven Juntos Avanzamos designated credit unions had received the 2017 Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant to continue their Hispanic outreach and community impact efforts. Over the next few months, we’ll be checking in with each of the credit unions and sharing updates on their progress.

    First up is JetStream Federal Credit Union in Miami Lakes, Florida.

    JetStream partnered with a local high school to select a deserving scholarship recipient. To qualify, the student needed to be a member of a Hispanic, low-income family and meet the following criteria: a 3.7 minimum GPA, a college in mind and an area of interest in business or finance.

    As a first step, JetStream chose Barbara Goleman Senior High as a partner. “We chose this high school because of its location, as well as its student body makeup,” said Vanessa Miranda, manager of HR and community outreach for JetStream. “The Barbara Goleman student makeup is 84 percent Hispanic.”

    (Left to right) JetStream FCU CEO Jeanne Kucey, Scholarship Winner Gabriel Hernandez, JetStream HR Manager Vanessa Miranda

    JetStream received many qualified applications, which included essay responses. With the help of several teachers and JetStream staff, they were able to select the winner: Gabriel Hernandez, a senior who will begin an accounting program at Florida International University in the fall.

    “Gabriel’s essay demonstrated his devotion to his academics,” said Miranda. “His long list of extra-curricular activities, as well as his academic achievements, truly stuck out from the rest. He has been an honors AP student since freshman year and has achieved a 4.9 weighted GPA. In addition, he is the captain of the soccer team and part of The National Honors Society.”

    Something else Jetstream says made Hernandez stand out was a strong commitment to his community. He has tutored immigrant students at a local high school, as well as volunteered his time to feed the hungry.

    Long-term, Hernandez plans to be an accountant or financial advisor. “I will be working with people and matching them to financial programs that will assist with their future,” Gabriel wrote in his essay. “Like JetStream’s motto, I believe that people matter most. I think that I could be an asset for both the consumer and the financial institution that hires me in the future.”

    In his essay, Hernandez also shared that he is concerned about how he will pay for college tuition and does not want to create further financial burdens for his parents.

    “We are very thankful that the Warren Morrow Hispanic Growth Fund Grant was awarded to JetStream, which allowed us to give a most valuable gift, the gift of education, to this deserving Hispanic student,” said Miranda. “I know this young man will go on to do amazing things. We feel honored that we were given the chance through this grant to aid him in achieving his goals and helping him see that the American dream is possible for everyone.”

    Hernandez closed his essay by writing, “I know that I will succeed in college, but this scholarship will show me that others believe in me, too.”

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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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