Immigrants often arrive in this country with little in the way of financial assets. Many are unfamiliar with or distrusting of financial institutions because in their countries of origin, banks tend to serve the wealthy or can be corrupt. As a result, many immigrants operate on a cash basis using neighborhood check cashers to cash their payroll checks. Reaching out to these “New Americans” means offering a range of non-traditional products such as check cashing, international wire transfers, and SAFE accounts (non-interest bearing accounts) and allowing them to conduct business in their native languages. It means making them feel respected and welcome in credit union lobbies.
Low wealth households lack the financial resources to help them through income disruptions or financial emergencies. They are asset poor. Given the state of the national economy, many more are joining the ranks of low wealth each day. Reaching out to these households mean offering affordable financial products and opportunities to build wealth. It may mean offering non-traditional products such as payday loan alternatives, credit builder programs, and small savers products. It may mean partnering with community organizations to provide VITA services, IDA programs, micro-business loans, and financial education.