Hispanics and Credit Unions Need Each Other


If you’re a credit union you’re probably winning with Hispanics already, but could you be losing as well?

Whether it’s attracting the almost half of unbanked/underbanked Hispanics or those who may be using other traditional financial services already, credit unions are well positioned to gain the trust, loyalty, and clientele of this prominent demographic that is expected to have a purchasing power of $1.7 trillion by 2020.

So, how can a credit union be winning and losing with Hispanics at the same time? Credit unions’ local presence and community ties are a great starting point for identifying with Hispanics at a cultural level. Similarly, translating websites, brochures, and other communication is yet another step in the right direction. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many organizations (in multiple sectors, not just financial services) stop their Hispanic efforts at translation or not fully leverage their local presence. If this applies to you as a credit union, then read our cultural relevance recommendations to win with Hispanics even more!

Educate Hispanic consumers and tailor your communication

Two factors that keep Hispanic consumers away from traditional financial services are a lack of familiarity with the U.S. banking system and confusion or mistrust about how their immigration status may affect their ability to participate in the financial system. This can apply to those Hispanics who use non-traditional services such as check-cashing or remittances, or those who have an account at your credit union but are not sure if they can apply for a loan.

Credit unions wishing to attract Hispanics need to focus on the information needs of this demographic. This means challenging the assumptions built into general market communications that may be targeted for adaptation for the Hispanic market.

For example, for the Hispanic consumer, a translated website or brochure may not provide sufficient information about documentation requirements for opening an account. Tailoring the communication to provide in-depth information about the documentation requirements — citizenship, residency, matrícula consular, Social Security — will proactively address common concerns of Hispanics and help mitigate confusion about the American financial system.

Similar confusion and mistrust may arise with issues concerning the security of deposits. NCUA footers on websites and printed materials are a step in the right direction. But for Hispanics who are not familiar with the U.S. financial system, or those who’ve seen governments take assets from banks overnight in their country, more reassurance and information will pay off in the long run.

Regardless of the topic, tailoring your communication through an educational section on your website, posts on your social media channels, in-language, and in-culture emails are some of the tools you can customize for the informational needs of Hispanics.

Leverage your local presence and services

As we’ve mentioned, having a local community presence is an asset you can leverage to connect with Hispanics in a meaningful way and gain their loyalty and trust.

Consider where and how Hispanics bank, besides traditional branches and ATMs. Neighborhood banking with smaller branches in the same centers where Hispanics buy their groceries is an example of how your credit union can deepen its community presence.

Additionally, services such as cost-effective check-cashing and remittances represent opportunities to attract Hispanics, build trust, and gain their loyalty for long-term relationships that will be as beneficial to your credit union as to the consumers. Non-financial services, such as providing interpreters on site or over the phone, can bridge the language gap and build trust as well.

Scream it from the rooftops

The membership benefits provided by credit unions, such as better loan rates, community focus rather than profit, are well-known. But, are they well-known to Hispanics?

If you’ve communicated these benefits, you’re off to a good start. If you have not, it’s time to get started. In either case, the communication should be tailored to the needs of Hispanics, and make sure you communicate it often, digitally and through other media, and LOUDLY. Highlight your message on your online platforms and social media, at local events, or collaborate with local non-profits or churches that are embedded in the Hispanic community.

There is no single formula for winning with Hispanics when it comes to financial services. Rather, success with this consumer segment will come from using the tools of cultural relevance to their maximum potential – more than a competitive advantage, it is a competitive imperative.

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