Serving Hispanic Market Requires Asking Difficult Questions
MONTEREY, Calif. - Credit unions that want to serve the Hispanic market should be prepared to ask themselves difficult questions, like whether or not their current members will feel comfortable standing in teller lines with large numbers of newly arrived immigrants, said CES Credit Union Vice President Kelly Schermerhorn, who shared his insight on serving the Hispanic market at the California Credit Union League's Big Valley Educational Conference. Schermerhorn minced no words when he described his experiences as manager of Community Trust Federal Credit Union in Apopka, Florida, which exclusively serves migrant workers in the area. "You need to check your ego at the door. If you're afraid to ask yourself difficult questions, you're not ready to serve the Hispanic market," Schermerhorn said. Another tough question credit unions need to ask themselves is if they are willing to offer the types of services the Hispanic market needs, which goes against many current credit union product and service trends. "If they need cheap transactions and you're selling them mortgages, you're missing the mark," Schermerhorn said, adding, "make sure you ask yourself, `am I doing this for our convenience or for theirs?' " Serving Hispanic members also means addressing the touchy subject of serving people who are in the U.S. illegally. "The reality of the situation is some of your members are not going to be legally documented," Schermerhorn said. The speaker suggested offering a non-dividend paying share account option, so illegals have a safe harbor for their funds that won't be questioned by the IRS. "If the alternative means that they are going to continue to carry cash and get attacked, it's a moral issue of personal safety. You can make a literal life-changing impact on an entire community," Schermerhorn said.