As chair of the National Association of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals (NLCUP), a top priority for Maria Martinez is promoting Hispanics for leadership roles within the credit union industry.
“One of our goals is to develop people and create more job opportunities for Latinos,” says Martinez, president/CEO at $193 million asset Border Federal Credit Union, Del Rio, Texas. “More than anything we need to shape people for leadership roles.
“Young people come into our industry and they are looking for role models. We can provide opportunities for them through scholarships, networking, and sponsorships.”
Martinez’s commitment also extends to Border Federal’s members. The credit union serves 13 counties, primarily near the Texas-Mexico border.
“In order to understand Hispanics, credit unions must become more educated about this group,” she says. “We need to understand them as consumers, but more importantly as people and the identity they represent as a diverse community.
“As Hispanics, we tend to patronize businesses that empower our cultural diversity and our cultural relevancy.”
At the same time, Hispanics are fast adopters of technology, Martinez says. “And that provides us with an opportunity to further engage them and provide culturally appropriate messages.”
More than anything, engaging with Hispanics makes good business sense. She describes Hispanics as “super borrowers.”
“They have jobs,” she says. “They need houses to live in. They are our future.”
NLCUP rebranded this summer and expanded its purpose and focus from networking to advocating for Latinos who work in the credit union industry.
Martinez says the organization is poised to host events and offer scholarships, professional development, best practices, and partnerships that advance the Latino community within credit unions.