Express Credit Union finds its calling with ITIN loans
CEO finds rewarding work in serving the Hispanic community
GREENVILLE, SC (August 31, 2021) — The Hispanic community is one of the largest minority groups in the U.S., and the fastest growing. Express Credit Union CEO Paul Baudin saw the growth happening around his $16 million, Seattle-based credit union.
In the late 2000s, Express CU became a certified Community Development Financial Institution and low-income designated by the NCUA.
“At that time, we leaned in hard on the community development mission, and that remains the centerpiece of why Express exists today: to serve that community development need. We realized from the outset that one of the most severely underserved segments in our community were the immigrants, and specifically the Hispanic community,” Baudin explained.
Today, approximately 40% of Express CU’s membership is Hispanic, thanks to its deep commitment to serving them. The credit union offers Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) lending, boasts a business development officer who spent a year in Paraguay with the Peace Corps, and an entire frontline time that is bilingual. An ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the IRS for those who are not eligible for Social Security Numbers, which are often required to apply for credit.
“It really serves an important need within that community to have a welcoming financial institution where they can speak in Spanish if they wish and be served,” Baudin said. “We love helping those folks out.”
Taking it one step further, Express CU (a Treasury Certified Acceptance Agent) has partnered with the King County United Way on its free tax preparation services, and the credit union helps with that as well as ITIN applications renewals for everyone who comes in. In 2020, the Express CU team helped 150 first-time ITIN applicants and renewals – member or nonmember. Baudin said, “That’s just us giving back to the community.”
He continued, “ITIN borrowers have the same credit needs as anyone else does, even just basic things like vehicle loans. A lot of our members love to come to us for loans to get pickup trucks, because that’s what they need to do their job.”
Baudin added, “It’s been our experience that if you take the time to know your members, which I would hope that every credit union does, and understand what their needs are, then we have not found that lending to ITIN holders is any riskier than lending to our general membership.
Baudin advised credit unions to get involved in serving the Hispanic market and ITIN lending for the right reasons. “You need to have a certain degree of passion and wherewithal to take it on. Please think beyond just what the effect on your bottom line is. It’s baked into the credit union philosophy, people helping people. “Credit unions should know it obviously requires extra effort to community well, and the last thing I would want to see would be a credit union, going down that road, basically, just to get loans on the books without really having a genuine commitment to serving the Hispanic community in the long run.
Express CU’s business development officer works very closely with Christian Cuzme, YMC’s relationship development leader and Hispanic community specialist. “There have been some terrific dual-track campaigns put together in both English and Spanish,” Baudin concluded.
“We are so excited about Express Credit Union’s efforts to truly reach out into the Hispanic community and serve their needs,” Cuzme said. “YMC is just proud to be a small part of that.”
About Your Marketing Co.
Your Marketing Co. is a full-service strategic planning, branding and marketing firm serving credit unions that are not content with the status quo. Since 2008, YMC has helped dozens of credit unions grow their potential through strategy, execution and accountability. And we give a damn!