Is the Hispanic market on your strategic planning radar?

Across the country, credit union pros are right now huddling around conference tables, meeting at off-site, creativity-inducing locations and dialing in for brainstorming sessions. On the agenda – What will 2017 look like and how can we best serve our community this year?

That’s right, it’s strategic planning season. As executives, board members and staff grapple with priorities and budgets, they also encounter the great opportunity they have to change the financial lives of consumers. Importantly, more credit unions are seeing this opportunity through a multicultural lens. That’s because their fields of membership are evolving rapidly, pushing new and different consumer personas to the forefront.

The fast-growing and youthful Hispanic market is among those segments that are becoming increasingly important for credit unions to consider during planning season. Savvy, growth-minded cooperatives have come to understand this market is not only culturally and socio-economically diverse; it’s also growing across the country.

Cooperatives operating in places other than so-called gateway cities, such as Los Angeles, Houston and Miami, are focusing on the influential Hispanic consumer. Today, Coopera is assisting many credit unions in places like the Mid South and Midwest U.S. with strategic growth plans designed to engage a wide swath of the segment, from low-income individuals to successful Hispanic businesses.

New research demonstrates the sizable opportunity Hispanics represent for the financial services industry. According to a new report by market research firm Packaged Facts, the U.S. is experiencing an expanding base of middle- and higher-income Hispanic households. What’s more, the research suggests this growth is far from a blip on the radar; it’s expected to continue well into the future.

Beyond its financial health, credit unions also see potential in the market’s youth. Undoubtedly, the Millennial member will be on the minds of every credit union professional charged with strategic planning this year. Chances are becoming greater by the day that the Millennial on your radar will be Hispanic. That’s because Hispanics made up 21 percent of all U.S. Millennials in 2014. That percentage is steadily rising.

What a terrific opportunity to introduce the credit union philosophy to a segment that has traditionally shied away from relationships with banks. The cultural trepidation about doing business with U.S. financial institutions can be deeply rooted within some Hispanic families, perpetuated for generations. It may be keeping otherwise financially savvy individuals from experiencing the life-changing result of savings, personal financial management and responsible use of credit.

But Hispanic Millennials may be just the generation to question the way their families have always done things. Better yet, perhaps they are the generation to introduce their families to the benefits of credit union membership.

These introductions will happen steadily throughout the next decade. When they do, will your credit union’s staff, products and culture be prepared?

Inclination to serve the Hispanic market is not enough. Cultural readiness is key. Make 2017 the year to find out – are we ready to serve Hispanic members?

Miriam De Dios Woodward

Miriam De Dios Woodward

Miriam De Dios Woodward is Global CEO of ViClarity, leading the company's transformation for a technology driven future. Prior to taking the helm at ViClarity, Miriam led AMC company Coopera ... Web: Details