For many credit unions, attracting a younger demographic—that’s more likely to borrow and use more products and services—means outreach to Hispanics. Hispanics are the largest, fastest-growing, youngest, and most underserved demographic group in the U.S.
Amarillo (Texas) Community Federal Credit Union and Fitzsimons Credit Union, Aurora, Colo. are among the credit unions positioning themselves to provide culturally relevant financial products and services to this growing market.
“We established a small task force to set the course for a larger group consisting of all of our bilingual employees,” says Amarillo Community Federal’s President/CEO Arna Reynolds. “The bilingual employee group is responsible for our community participation, which includes staffing booths at Hispanic trade events and various community events.
“Our board and management team embraced the concept and there has never been a question about the feasibility, or necessity, for the Hispanic initiative set forth at Amarillo Community.”
“The initial phase of our plan was to survey the staff and the board of directors and shift internal beliefs and attitudes toward serving this market,” says Fitzsimons’ President/CEO Sandy Neves. “The objective was to create awareness and understanding that there were opportunities to add members and pull business away from predatory lenders and other nonfinancial providers.
“The second phase of the outreach efforts involved increasing staff and board knowledge of the Hispanic culture,” says Neves. “Then we developed and implemented products and services specific to this market. Our third and current phase involves becoming more visible and involved in the Hispanic community.”
“To be successful, the single most effective strategy is diligence and patience,” says Reynolds. “This isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes the community a long time to become trusting of a financial institution. The best way to gain trust is word-of-mouth. We take care of people one at a time and encourage them to tell their family members to give us a chance.”
Advertising and interviews on Spanish radio stations were effective, too, Neves says.
Fitzsimons also takes advantage of every opportunity to increase visibility within the Hispanic community. A full-time Spanish-speaking business development specialist, whose primary focus is Hispanic outreach, participates in many Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and community functions.
Both credit unions also use Coopera, a consulting firm and CUNA strategic partner that specializes in working with credit unions to provide culturally relevant financial products and services designed for Hispanic consumers.