No doubt about it – 2020 promises to be a vibrant, dynamic year, and one favored by a continuing robust economy. Credit unions, like all organizations in the financial space, are primed for financial growth. But credit unions have one advantage that other financial providers don’t have. As member-owned financial cooperatives that focus on service and inclusion rather than profits, credit unions are in the best position to serve the country’s rapidly growing Hispanic community.
Many credit unions already know this through experience, and both the institutions and their Hispanic members are gaining from their relationships. But more financial cooperatives need to strategically pursue Hispanics and all the financial potential they bring, for the sake of their own institution’s relevance as well as for the growth of the credit union community nationwide. And they need to do so now, before more of the competition catches on.
Hispanics continue to be the U.S. population’s most rapidly growing segment and their numbers are staggering. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 59.9 million Hispanics who call the U.S. home, comprising close to 20 percent of the population. By 2060, experts say, that number will grow to 119 million, or almost 29 percent of the population. Today, one in five U.S. consumers is Hispanic; by 2060, it will be close to one in three.
Think about the implications of those data points and the impact they will have on our evolving social and cultural landscape. Individual credit unions have done very well in getting to know their Latino communities, serving them in ways that make sense to those members and encourages them to engage with the credit union. But many experts have noted that future credit union growth will likely come largely from the Hispanic community, given their rapid demographic growth. As an industry, we have yet to make a concerted effort to reach the Hispanic population on a nationwide basis in profound ways that reach beyond translated marketing materials.
Other industries, and even other financial providers, are far ahead of credit unions when it comes to approaching and serving the Latino community.
- As far back as 2002, Frito Lay introduced an extensive line of snack food targeted at the Hispanic market after testing showed that U.S. Hispanics favored snacks flavored with chile, citrus and cheese seasonings. Frito Lay understood that cultural differences come in different flavors.
- In 2012, household brand manufacturer Proctor & Gamble (through Orgullosa, its subsidiary devoted to celebrating and empowering Latinas), initiated a program through the Hispanic Scholarship Fund that financially supported Hispanic youth pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). P&G knew that supporting the Hispanic community is a large part of building relationships with its members.
- Even Bank of America has invested heavily in serving Hispanics. Through its Hispanic and Latino Organization for Leadership Advancement (HOLA), which had grown to more than 30 internal chapters by 2003, the $2.4 billion bank teaches employees and managers how to better understand and serve the Hispanic community nationwide. They know that better customer relations mean more business and increased loyalty.
Coopera’s goal is to help credit unions prosper through better service to the Hispanic community. But we are only half the equation. Credit unions themselves must step to the plate to better capitalize on this rapidly growing market. Those who do are almost guaranteed to hit a home run.