What is meant by reaching out to immigrants?
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.
Who are the immigrants?
Immigrants are defined as persons living in the United States who were not U.S. citizens at birth. According to the 2007 Current Population Survey collected by the Census Bureau, there were 37.3 million immigrants in the country, including an estimated 11.3 million illegal immigrants. The region of birth for the immigrant population in the U.S. is as follows:
- All Latin America 54.6%
- Mexico 31.3%
- Caribbean 9.1%
- South America 7.3%
- Central America 7.0%
- East/Southeast Asia 17.6%
- Europe 12.5%
- South Asia 5.5%
- Middle East 3.5%
- Sub-Saharan Africa 2.8%
- Canada 1.9%
- Other 1.7%
Why should credit unions care?
Competition to serve this market is heating up because banks and other financial service providers realize the size of the market. While immigrants may start out earning modest incomes and hold modest levels of wealth, many will climb the social and economic ladders with time. They will want financial institutions that can meet their unique financial needs in a manner that makes them feel comfortable and accepted.
What can credit unions do?
Building trust is critical when establishing relationships with an immigrant market. Credit unions can find strategic community partners who already have a connection with this market and build alliances. The community partner can educate the credit union on how best to reach and serve this market and even make referrals to the credit union. In turn, the credit union must respect and make these new members feel welcome and provide services in their native language. The best method to accomplish this is to hire employees from the neighborhood it wishes to serve.
Hispanic Initiative – Village Credit Union » View details
Village Credit Union uses a Hispanic Outreach Advisory Group to provide advice and input to the credit union regarding its outreach efforts to the Hispanic community. The credit union’s Hispanic Community Development Director serves as a bridge between community organizations working with Hispanic families and the credit union. Overall membership growth for 2009 was 5.8% and the percentage of Hispanic members increased from 3% a year ago to 9% of members today.
Hispanic Initiative – Greater Iowa Credit Union » View details
Greater Iowa Credit Union’s mission is to be the financial institution of trust in each community it serves. That has created some challenges for the credit union, particularly at its Denison branch where the community is 40% Latino and 60% Anglo. The largest employer in the community is Farmland Foods and many of its employees may be undocumented. The credit union has responded by accepting alternative identification forms and accepting ITINs in lieu of SSNs.
Hispanic Initiative - Guadalupe Credit Union » View details
Santa Fe, New Mexico is tri-cultural: Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo. The membership at Guadalupe Credit Union is 75% Hispanic. At a strategic planning session in 2001, the board and management made the decision to reach out to its Hispanic immigrant community and provide needed products and services.
Documents / Articles
- Financial Services Needs of Immigrant Communities in Canada and the United States – Filene Research Institute Report
- Why Should CUs Care about Immigration Reform? – Credit Union Magazine
- Florida Credit Union Reaches Out to Immigrants
- Tico wins White House award for pioneering immigrant credit unions in U.S.
- Capturing the Immigrant Market – White Paper, January, 2009
- Hispanic Heritage Month – US Census Fact Sheet
- The Ecomonic Slowdown’s Impact on Middle-Aged & Older Hispanics – AARP
- U.S. Hispanic Population Surpasses 45 Million Now 15 Percent of Total – US Census Press Release
- Serving New Americans: A Strategic Opportunity for Credit Unions – Filene Research Institute
- La Oportunidad – Filene Research Institute
- The Hispanic Market: Changing Patterns of Untapped Growth – FiServ
- Hispanic Membership Growth – Coopera Presentation
- Mexican Consulates in the U.S. & Canada
- Financial terms in Spanish
- The Hispanic Market: Outline of A Business Strategy – CUNA Mutual Group
- Characteristics of Latino Un- and Underbanked Consumers, Center for Financial Services Innovation, July 2009.
- U.S. Latino Families, Heads of Household, and the Elderly: Emerging Trends in Financial Services and Asset-Building Behaviors, 2009, by Barbara J. Robles, PhD – Filene Research Institute
- Serving Diverse Members: A REAL Solutions Sensitivity Guide