Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Doing so will help you reach—and best serve—the Hispanic market in your neighborhood.

April 17, 2012

Smart credit union executives realize the face of the American consumer is changing, and that to grow membership they must adapt to new consumers.

The Hispanic market, in particular, has caught the industry’s collective eye thanks in large part to the group’s size, youth,and accelerated growth in the U.S.

The most effective way for credit unions to pursue a membership growth strategy with their local Hispanic community is by asking a series of questions—of themselves and of their prospective members.

The answers to these questions will help establish a measurement of the credit union’s current Hispanic membership base, evaluate the institution’s cultural disposition to serving a new market, and analyze the credit union’s tactical progress to understand what it has already accomplished.

Coopera Consulting asks credit unions a series of questions at various stages of their Hispanic-market outreach through a proprietary analysis tool, the Hispanic Opportunity Navigator.

Here are six of the many questions the analysis poses to develop a custom roadmap for credit union staff to follow:

1. Is the credit union well-positioned to target and serve the Hispanic market?
The goal here is to determine whether a credit union is excited by the philosophical and business imperative to serve the Hispanic market.

Answers can be found in a variety of ways, including internal staff/board surveys and a review of materials, such as marketing collateral and strategic planning documents.

2. How many Hispanic members does the credit union currently serve?

This question is about more than numbers. Rather, it’s designed to help the credit union understand how far it has come in its current phase of outreach.

Coopera has identified three phases of credit union outreach to the Hispanic market: The discovery, emerging, and best practices phases.

Credit unions in the discovery phase are considering Hispanic outreach but want to learn more.

In the emerging phase, credit union staff have laid the foundation and taken steps to adapt their products and services to Hispanic members.

Credit unions that employ best practices are preferred by Hispanics in their area, have strong financial educational programs, and maintain an innovative growth culture.

3. What milestones has the credit union already achieved?

The answers to this question provide a snapshot of the credit union’s current Hispanic outreach, including a look at personnel, products, processes and systems, and promotion and marketing strategies.

More importantly, this question illuminates missing steps and determines which steps will provide the opportunity for staff and board members to prioritize their tactics.

4. How many Hispanic members could the credit union serve and whats the income potential?

One measure of a credit union’s potential success in Hispanic growth is total income. It can be calculated from three figures: number in the target market, credit union penetration rate, and average income per member.

5. What opportunities and challenges does the credit union face?

To determine their readiness for successful Hispanic engagement, credit unions must take a hard look at elements such as the distribution of Hispanic residents in neighborhoods surrounding branch locations, the median income of area Hispanics, and the percentage of local Hispanics who prefer the credit union’s use of Spanish.

6. What best-practice strategies will attract and retain Hispanic members?

Subscribe to Credit Union MagazineRecommendations for best practices vary depending on a credit union’s market and what it has already accomplished.

Some best practices include:

  • Developing a strategic plan with milestones and goals for serving Hispanic populations;
  • Training employees on the business case for serving Hispanics and on issues related to reaching Hispanic populations;
  • Providing basic introductory financial services, including international nonwire remittance services and low-or no-cost check-cashing in a way that’s relevant to Hispanics;
  • Tracking Hispanic ethnicity and analyzing data to examine Hispanics’ contribution to the bottom line; and
  • Establishing long-term relationships with community organization partners trusted the Hispanic community trusts.

Arna Reynolds, CEO of Amarillo Community Federal Credit Union, has asked her team many of these questions as a part of Coopera’s Hispanic Opportunity Navigator analysis.

“The Hispanic Opportunity Navigator has been an invaluable tool for our Hispanic programs,” she says. “We now have the ability to adapt our strategic plan to include target marketing with customized messages to appropriate age groups. Most importantly, we have a specific roadmap on what direction to take.”

Hispanic outreach is an indispensable investment in the future, and the integration of a Hispanic growth strategy with a credit union’s overall strategic future will create sustainable success.

It all begins with the right set of questions and a commitment to truly understanding the answers.

MIRIAM De DIOS is vice president of Coopera Consulting, a strategic partner with CUNA. Contact her at 866-518-0214.

Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from the newly released white paper “Asking the Right Questions.”