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 2005, Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union, headquartered in Vacaville, Calif., and the credit union’s Board of Directors and senior management team recognized many Hispanics in their local communities were underserved and were thirsty for dignified, affordable financial services.
Nearly 40 percent of California’s residents identify themselves as Hispanic, and that number is predicted to continue climbing at a rapid rate.
“At the time, we identified an advantage our credit union had over other area financial institutions,” said Travis Credit Union Director of Corporate Relations Shérry Cordonnier. “Whereas other providers were looking to prey on underserved individuals, we truly wanted to partner with them. We also knew there was only a small window of opportunity to build and capture loyalty with potential Hispanic members. As such, we implemented several programs to strengthen our efforts to attract and retain Hispanic members.”
Many of these programs, Cordonnier added, continue today.
Travis CU began its initial Hispanic outreach that year by partnering with Filene Research Institute to better understand the size and needs of the local Hispanic market. With this background information, they began to formulate strategies and initiatives for better targeting members in their communities. Realizing their initial activities were working and overall membership was increasing, the cooperative decided it was time to take its efforts to the next level — the development of a comprehensive, strategic plan that would be sustainable for the long term.
“We had already set our strategic direction when I was introduced to Warren [Morrow, late CEO of Coopera] who was speaking at a conference about how Coopera was helping credit unions with their Hispanic outreach efforts,” said Cordonnier. “Not many financial institutions were doing this type of outreach at that time, so we needed a partner that could help us pioneer new activities and help us be true innovators. After talking more with Coopera, we knew they would be able to help us get to that level.”
To kick-off a partnership with Coopera, Van Ouwerkerk invited Morrow to participate in the credit union’s Board spring planning session in 2009. The credit union initially utilized the firm’s consulting services to develop strategies for becoming more visible to potential Hispanic members in the communities they serve. At Coopera’s recommendation, the Travis CU team implemented the Hispanic Opportunity Navigator (HON) to get a snapshot of how effective they had already been in serving the Hispanic community and to identify what opportunities may be in the future.
The credit union also worked hard to bolster its grassroots marketing efforts, said Cordonnier. Some of those initiatives include:
Since initiating these programs, Travis CU, serving members out of 22 locations in Northern California, has realized 5-percent membership growth year-over-year, and now counts Hispanic members as 20 percent of its overall membership.
To further evolve its outreach efforts, Travis CU initiated two new programs to position the credit union as a trusted financial advisor in the Hispanic market.
The first program, New Era Tanda, debuted in 2012. It is designed around Hispanic tandas (also known as cundinas, sans or quinelas). Informal borrowing/lending circles, tandas are common to Latin American cultures. The modernized tanda, developed by Travis CU, is aimed at bridging a cultural custom with the credit union experience.
Funded by a National Credit Union Foundation grant, Travis CU is piloting the New Era Tanda program with two groups in Solano and Yolo counties. Each group is composed of six people and helps participants develop a 12-month shared savings goal and to take advantage of the credit union’s unique savings and loan offerings. The program offers monthly meetings with financial literacy courses offered in Spanish.
After graduating from the program, New Era Tanda participants are then eligible for individual product offerings to meet their credit-building and/or vehicle-purchase goals. Due to the anticipated success of the pilots, Cordonnier said Travis CU might consider making the New Era Tanda a permanent program available in the credit union’s 22 branch locations in the future.
Travis CU also launched an immersion program in 2012, aimed at bolstering the credit union’s current employee training efforts. The goal of the immersion program is to illuminate the immigrant experience for Travis CU employees, making them more sensitive to Hispanic members’ needs and challenges.
During a series of cultural immersion sessions nearly 140 Travis CU employees took their training from the classroom to the real world. Visiting Mi Pueblo Food Center in Vallejo, Calif., and El Tejaban restaurant in Vacaville, employees at both businesses were instructed to speak only in Spanish to Travis CU employees, allowing them a first-hand experience with the challenges of being understood as a foreign–language citizen.
“The exercise placed Travis employees in the same situation as our Spanish-only speaking members, demonstrating to them what it might be like for those members when they visit the credit union,” said Cordonnier. “In return, our employees gained a new empathy for many of our Hispanic members and what they experience every day. The training focused on treating these members with respect and dignity, reading body language and the importance of understanding and communicating the credit union’s products and services in both English and Spanish.”
According to Cordonnier, the training helped provide Travis CU employees a better understanding of the credit union’s current outreach efforts and the need for additional trainings in the future. In addition, the training helped employees overcome concerns, fears and anxiety related to serving members not like themselves. As a result of the program, Cordonnier and the senior management team at Travis CU have noticed the employees are more accepting of the credit union’s Hispanic outreach efforts and have taken steps to share their experiences with others. They regularly initiate more efforts, including asking Travis CU to provide financial vocabulary lists in Spanish, more training, bilingual staffing, additional marketing and more involvement in Hispanic events.
Also, noted Cordonnier, employees have become more active in local community organizations. An an example, Eric Maldonado, Travis CU’s community involvement officer for Contra Costa County, is currently serving a term as President of the Contra Costa County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which has been recognized as the 2012 Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of the Year in California.
“By gaining a better understanding of our Hispanic members,” continued Cordonnier, “Travis employees now help our leadership team develop better strategies to increase membership, grow revenue and boost loan volume with this important demographic.”
Another by-product of the immersion program has been the building of trust with local Hispanic merchants in the communities Travis CU serves. The programs have been well-received by these businesses, as many have brought the merchants new customers and revenue growth opportunities, as well as opened the door for new partnerships in future outreach efforts.
In recognition of their outstanding community outreach efforts, Travis CU was named the Community Leader of the Year by the Solano County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in October, 2012. “This award is usually given to an individual,” said Cordonnier. “It is an honor to be the first business to ever receive it.”
Because of its successful investment in the local Hispanic community, Travis CU plans to implement more immersion training sessions in the future to make sure all employees have the opportunity to participate. They also hope to add more bilingual staff and offer more products and services targeted to their Hispanic members’ needs.
“As we continue to enhance our Hispanic outreach programs to build awareness for our credit union within the communities we serve, we know that the investment we’re making has not only been good for the strategic growth of the credit union,” concluded Cordonnier, “but has also proved to be important to the overall credit union movement. We have seen first-hand that our mission of ‘people helping people’ is truly the right approach to take as we work to build trust with, and provide much-needed services to, this growing market.”Leave a comment
In case you haven’t heard, during recent cultural immersion sessions facilitated by Travis trainers, about 140 Travis Credit Union employees took a series of trips to Mi Pueblo Food Center and El Tejaban restaurant in Vacaville. During these trips, employees at both businesses were instructed to speak only in Spanish, so Travis employees could get a first-hand experience in the challenges of trying to be understood in a foreign language.
This exercise was designed by Coopera and adapted for the credit union by Travis’s training staff to put Travis employees in the same situation as their Spanish-only speaking members might experience when visiting the credit union. By gaining a better understanding of their Hispanic members, Travis employees will now be able to help their leadership team develop better strategies to increase membership, grow revenue and boost loan volume with this important demographic.
For more information on how Coopera can help your credit union put together an employee cultural immersion program, contact us today.Leave a comment
Coopera is pleased to announce the newest member of its executive management team — Gustavo Grüber! A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Gustavo brings more than 20 years of multicultural experience in marketing, business development and operations to Coopera, making him the perfect fit for his new role as Coopera’s vice president.
We’re excited to welcome Gustavo to the Coopera team. In his past roles at RR Donnelley/Banta, PSA Directo, Russ Reid, Hispanic Direct and Alaniz, he pioneered innovative marketing techniques that helped his clients achieve their acquisition, retention and renewal goals. His insight and efforts will offer Coopera and our clients new opportunities for Hispanic community outreach efforts.
In addition to his corporate experience, Gustavo has also served as the Chair of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) “Directo” Council for Hispanic Marketing and was the founder of the Multicultural Marketing Group in the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing (CADM). He has also been a featured speaker at multicultural marketing conferences and has published articles on Hispanic marketing in trade publications.
In his new role at Coopera, Gustavo will be responsible for leading the company’s business development and sales strategies, brand awareness, product presence and revenue generation, as well as will serve as a key touch point for the company’s existing partners and prospective clients.
Gustavo is a great fit for Coopera, both professional and personally. We look forward what he will help us accomplish as the company works to address the complex challenges associated with Hispanic marketing and develop effective solutions to reach and serve our target audience.Leave a comment
While it’s true the Hispanic market is the largest, fastest-growing group in the United States, that’s not the only reason the country’s credit unions are working hard to learn more about this community.
To gain that understanding of the Hispanic community, credit unions must begin by fully examining their current outreach and potential for growth. One way credit unions are pursuing this strategy is through the use of Coopera’s Hispanic Opportunity Navigator (HON).
By asking the right questions the HON will uncover a credit union’s readiness to reach a new market or to take the efforts to the next level. The HON also sets forth a plan of action for credit union staff to follow on its path to growth through the Hispanic market.
With this plan, credit unions will be encouraged to implement new tactics to grow its Hispanic membership, such as:
When implemented in the proper sequence, these tactics will ultimately achieve results much faster and much more cost-effectively for a credit union than if they had gone without a charted course.
The HON is quickly becoming a standard in the industry. In fact, Texas credit unions hoping to attain the Juntos Avanzamos designation* are strongly encouraged to perform a HON analysis.
*The Juntos Avanzamos designation, which translates to “Together We Advance,” is an indicator to consumers that the designated financial institution is not only welcoming, but prepared to handle the financial needs of the Hispanic community
For more information about how the HON can help your credit union’s Hispanic outreach programs, download the white paper “Asking the Right Questions.”Leave a comment
The Hispanic population is very young as compared to other U.S. ethnic groups. The best potential for lowering the average age of a credit union’s membership is by bringing Hispanic members into the fold. Because it is a largely underserved group, helping Hispanic members navigate the U.S. financial system is an important part of the overall credit union mission.
Hispanic outreach is an indispensable investment in a credit union’s future. But, seeing the benefit of serving the Hispanic population is one thing. Truly understanding what it takes to do so is quite another.
To gain that understanding, credit unions must begin by fully examining their current outreach and potential for growth. This places the credit union in a much better position for defining success and for developing a strategic plan for achieving that success.
By asking these questions, credit unions can develop a customized strategy for achieving their goals:
• Is the credit union well-positioned to target and serve the Hispanic market?
• How many Hispanic members is the credit union currently serving?
• What milestones has the credit union already achieved?
• How many Hispanic members could the credit union serve and what is the income potential?
• What are the opportunities and challenges faced by the credit union?
• What are the best-practice strategies that will attract and retain Hispanic members?
To learn more about how asking the right questions can help grow your credit union’s Hispanic membership, download Coopera’s white paper “Asking the Right Questions.”Leave a comment
Hispanic outreach is an indispensable investment in the future. Yet having a Hispanic growth strategy on its own will not generate the kind of success a credit union needs. It is the integration of a Hispanic growth strategy with the credit union’s overall strategic future that will ultimately create sustainable success.
One way for credit unions to pursue their membership growth strategy with their local Hispanic community is through the use of Coopera’s Hispanic Opportunity Navigator (HON), an industry-accepted assessment that Coopera has completed for more than 50 credit unions across the country.
Designed to make strategic planning for a Hispanic growth strategy simple, the HON provides a measurement of a credit union’s Hispanic membership baseline.
In addition, the program evaluates a credit union’s cultural disposition to serving a new market. As a third assessment, the HON analyzes the credit union’s tactical progress to understand what has already been accomplished toward becoming what Coopera calls a “Best Practice Credit Union.”
The HON supplies a road map to follow utilizing three Hispanic growth stages: Discovery, Emerging and Best Practice. By asking the right questions during these phases, the HON gives credit unions a customized strategy for achieving their goals.
One Coopera customer, Arna Reynolds, CEO of Amarillo Community Federal Credit Union, says, “The HON has been an invaluable tool for our Hispanic programs. It has given us the ability to adapt our strategic plan to include target marketing with customized messages to the appropriate age groups. Now with a defined roadmap, we understand exactly which direction to take next.”
For more information about how the HON can help your credit union’s Hispanic outreach programs, download the white paper “Asking the Right Questions.”Leave a comment
Smart credit union executives realize that the face of the American consumer is changing, and that to grow membership, they must adapt to their new consumers.
One way for credit unions to pursue their membership growth strategy with their local Hispanic community is by asking the right questions to develop a customized strategy for achieving their membership growth goals:
Is the credit union well-positioned to target and serve the Hispanic market?
How many Hispanic members is the credit union currently serving?
What milestones has the credit union already achieved?
How many Hispanic members could the credit union serve and what is the income potential?
What are the opportunities and challenges faced by the credit union?
What are the best-practice strategies that will attract and retain Hispanic members?
The white paper “Asking the Right Questions” can be downloaded at: http://tinyurl.com/7ovghlu.Leave a comment
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