Reaching and engaging the Hispanic market: Why “Hablamos Español” may not be enough

For several weeks from mid-September through mid-October, the nation celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised to see each of the three credit unions I’m a member of make an effort, either in-branch or online, to amplify their Hispanic employees and members.

But for a movement committed to serving the underserved, is one month out of 12 enough?

Let’s look at the stats for a second. Hispanic communities have long been underserved by traditional banking models and biased lending processes, and those disparities only worsened during the pandemic.

Perhaps no wonder then, that potential Latinx credit union members are gravitating to the more decentralized, disruptive FinTechs (although I should point out, I don’t believe that represents a point of no return. Increasingly, credit unions and FinTechs alike recognize the value of partnership.) In fact, while FinTech usage is relatively consistent across age, gender and income, when it comes to race and ethnicity, Latinos are far and away more engaged—with 92% of Hispanic consumers using FinTech compared to just 74% of their white neighbors.

Why does this matter? Because whether your credit union is serving rural communities in the Pacific Northwest or urban communities in the deep south, Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in your area. They are an increasing majority in the workforce and collectively generate the fifth largest GDP in the world (yes, you read that correctly) … Oh, and they are underserved.

Serving the Hispanic community is not only critical for credit unions to survive and thrive in the future; it’s fundamental to our collective mission. But it also requires emotional, academic and economic investment. Credit unions need to earn the right to be the financial institution of choice for their Latinx communities. Printing posters with “Si, hablamos Espanol” is not enough.

But you already knew this, right? And if you’ve spoken to me in the last six months, we’ve likely had a conversation about the disparity between people pointing out problems and people providing solutions… That is precisely why my company, Mission Brands Consulting, donates time and energy to supporting the National Association of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals (NLCUP).

NLCUP represents an aggregation of knowledge, insights and opportunities that, by tapping into through support, engagement and partnerships, credit unions—and FinTechs, Leagues, Associations etc.—can use to position themselves for true, long-term growth in new markets.

One of the most incredible aspects of the credit union movement is also one of our most-overlooked and underutilized: Cooperation.

If your credit union is looking to grow with your local Hispanic community, NLCUP, its people, programs and network, can help. Your organization is not an island—and you don’t have to start from scratch. There’s no doubt that the opportunity in front of credit unions right now is astronomical. Developing the programs and solutions to meet the needs of the growing Hispanic market speaks to both the head and the heart of our movement. And by putting in the time, energy and effort, our entire system can emerge stronger.

Courtesy of Sam Plester, NLCUP/CUInsight
Click here to read a Spanish-language version of this article.