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  • Credit Union ‘Jump Starts’ Staff Passion for Hispanic Member Service with Immersion Exercises, Training

    Posted by on February 13, 2017

    Buy-in from management was a critical first step to developing the Prime Financial Credit Union’s (PFCU) Hispanic member growth plan. And it did not come easily. After all, the credit union was still recovering from a conservatorship, and prudent board members wanted to be sure the plan would be strategic and well-executed.

    “We saw this large population that really needed our products and services, and we wanted to do it right. Just throwing up a sign that said, “We speak Spanish,’ was not going to cut it,” said Colleen Jakubowski, PFCU’s chief operating officer.

    To lay the groundwork for their strategic roadmap, the credit union began working with Coopera on a series of surveys to reveal the true needs of the Hispanic community in Milwaukee. Coopera also spoke with PFCU’s staff to uncover sentiments employees may not want to share with the credit union’s leadership.

    “Coopera’s staff took us through an immersion exercise where we went to a local market for lunch,” said Jakubowski. “We were challenged to speak Spanish the entire time and to get to know people in the community. It was something of a cultural awakening for us. That activity really jump-started the passion. We learned a lot about a culture we didn’t know, and came away understanding that’s exactly what we can do for our members.”

    PFCU Mobilizes Team of Volunteers

    Training bilingual employees to not only speak the right words but also have the cultural awareness to adequately explain financial products was critically important, as well. In January 2016, PFCU mobilized a team of 13 volunteers who are now leading the execution of the credit union’s Hispanic growth plan. Divided into subgroups, such as marketing, Spanish language and compliance, the team is playing an instrumental role in the development and launch of PFCU’s new branch location.

    PFCU has also developed a business curriculum for a class of Spanish speaking employees who want to expand their knowledge of the U.S. financial system vocabulary. According to PFCU Director of Organizational Development Amy Goratowski, these individuals are highly engaged and passionate about continually improving their skills.

    Among the challenges Jakubowski and Goratowski cite is difficulty containing staff excitement about the prospect of gaining new members from the Hispanic community. “We can’t do it all,” said Goratowski. “We still have to be frugal, but the great thing about this community is word of mouth. Once they become aware of all we have to offer, it will be huge.”

    To read more about PFCU’s Hispanic membership growth strategy, download “Hispanic Member Growth Not Just for ‘Gateway States’ Anymore.”

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    The Propellant That Pushed Guardian CU Forward

    Posted by on February 19, 2013

    Many credit unions leaders know – either in their gut or in their strategic vision – that the Hispanic community will play a key role in the growth of their cooperative. Yet, they are challenged to get a true, focused and action-oriented initiative off the ground. Often this is because they aren’t confident they understand where they are at on the continuum of service to this crucial consumer segment.

    That was exactly the trouble facing Guardian Credit Union, based in Milwaukee. The leadership understood how important increasing its Hispanic membership would become in the credit union’s near future, yet it needed a spark to ignite the passion needed from staff.

    Enter the Hispanic Membership Analysis (HMA). Completed for Guardian CU by Coopera staff, the HMA allowed Guardian leadership to discover pertinent information about its members. The results of the analysis ultimately led to the development of Guardian’s Hispanic growth strategies to increase membership, revenue and loan volume.

    “I believe that the HMA was the propellant that I needed to push this initiative forward,” said Christopher Plautz, Guardian CU’s VP of Strategic Research and Development. “It allowed my board to really engage in the details, to, in a concrete way, visualize the audience, the needs for this population and the opportunity for our credit union.”

    Each HMA provides a picture of a credit union’s total membership, establishing a baseline of the Hispanics being served and their impact to the cooperative’s bottom line. It shows:

    • Percentage of Hispanic members (English and Spanish-preferring), market share and growth over time
    • Membership profile characteristics including: language preference, age and tenure
    • Financial usage indicators, including services per member, average deposits, average loan volumes, delinquency rates and checking & lending penetration

    The HMA could be just the thing your credit union needs to transform gut instinct into action. Get in touch if we can tell you more.

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