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    Capturing the Immigrant Market

    Immigrants come to the United States for many reasons, most seeking a chance for a better life for their families and children. This past century of credit union service to the nation parallels an era of immigrant growth that continues today.

    While membership growth and market share are slowing, serving immigrant populations answers both philosophical and business needs for credit unions.

    Some 40-55% of Latino immigrants are unbanked. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation projects that Latinos will account for more than half of the U.S. banking growth during the next decade. Latino households with checking accounts will increase by 57% and those with savings accounts by 76% during the next two years. And one of three U.S. citizens will be of Latino descent by 2050.

    Mainstream banks are well aware of these trends and are aggressively courting Latinos. But it would be a mistake to conclude that a credit union’s marketing efforts should focus solely on Latino members. As the following profiles show, the immigrants that come to the United States continue to join a melting pot that includes Ukrainians, Hmong, Vietnamese, Somalis, Sudanese, Cape Verdeans, Haitians, Brazilians as well as Latinos.

    A closer reading of the profiles also indicates that credit unions that serve immigrants successfully have several practices in common. It’s essential to have bi-lingual staff and understand the nuances of the immigrant cultures. Marketing can be a challenge with immigrant groups as they come from areas where financial institutions are in their infancy and sometimes low on the trust spectrum.

    Community involvement through local festivals, scholarships, multi-cultural centers and partnerships are vehicles to gain trust. Word of mouth is still the primary means of communication for most immigrants. Traditional marketing via radio, television, and print has a place, but it’s not as important as becoming involved in the community. English as a second language and financial literacy classes also help to build trust for the organization.

    • Click here to download our free whitepaper, “Capturing the Immigrant Market.”
    • Click here to browse our resources on reaching immigrants.
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