The issue of serving immigrant and minority populations took center stage at the CUNA Community Credit Union Conference and The Federation 2016 Annual Meeting in Dallas on Wednesday.
A trio of speakers discussed the financial lives of immigrants, the wealth gap between white and minority populations, and sustaining minority credit unions.
Immigrants often lack knowledge of the U.S. financial services system, says Kristen S. Moy, a senior fellow with the Financial Security Program of the Aspen Institute.
A few interesting tidbits of information gleaned from research into immigrant credit union members, according to Moy, include:
The gap between white and minority wealth and incomes is one of the greatest challenges to the U.S. economy in the future, according to Dedrick Asante-Muhammed, the director of the Racial Wealth Divide Project at CFED.
“Often times when we talk about racial inequality, there is a story out there that we are not where we want to be, but the country is headed in the right direction,” he says.
But data suggests the country isn't going in the right direction as it relates to racial wealth and inequality. It's actually headed in a “very bad direction,” he says.
“The wealth divide is very severe,” Asante-Muhammed says. “I have given a depressing narrative about racial wealth and inequality, but I think it is important to be realistic about where we are as a country so we know what we need to do as a country to move things forward.”
The Dodd-Frank Act commits NCUA to preserving minority depository institutions (MDIs), according to NCUA’s Deb Baldwin.
NCUA and other organizations offer preservation programs and resources to support that goal, she says.
“There is a lot of conversation going on about whether there will be any sort of changes in the (Dodd-Frank) Act, or reversals in the Act, or repeal of the Act. But what I will tell you right now, as of today, is that our office holds a mandate to ensure that we preserve the MDIs, based on that Dodd-Frank Act and we will continue to proceed forward on that unless otherwise instructed,” Baldwin says.
The law defines MDIs as having more than 50% minority board members and more than 50% of current and potential minority members.
MDIs often fill a gap in communities where banks have left and where payday lenders have entered, she says.