DES MOINES, Iowa -- An executive specializing in training credit unions to identify and reach out to potential Hispanic members says the recent economic downturn should not discourage credit unions from continuing to market to the Latino community.
"Of course the economic downturn is affecting all of us, Hispanics included," said Miriam De Dios, emerging markets director for Coopera Consulting. "But Hispanics are still the fastest growing new market in the U.S. and will remain so."
De Dios acknowledged that the recent downturn may have led some first generation Hispanic immigrants to head back home, discouraged by the difficulty of finding work in a depression economy. But she pointed out that many are staying and that soon their children, the second generation of Hispanic immigrants, would outnumber the first.
She also highlighted that the second generation of Hispanic immigrants will require a mix of products and services generally more traditional to credit unions.
Many of the first generation of Hispanic immigrants have never had a relationship with a financial institution and often need primarily transaction services, such as remittances, bill pay and affordable check-cashing, she explained. The second generation are going to need more traditional products, such as auto loans and student loans, that credit unions already provide.
De Dios made her comments after her firm, Coopera Consulting, finished training 17 credit unions headquartered in New York State in the skills and approaches they need to more effectively reach out to the Hispanic market.
Coopera Consulting is a for-profit subsidiary of the Iowa Credit Union Association and partnered with the New York Credit Union Association to provide the training, Coopera explained.
"We have developed a comprehensive approach to help credit unions better understand the Hispanic market," De Dios said. "Through this outreach initiative, credit unions will be able to promote the credit union philosophy of serving the underserved that ultimately aids in the growth of the credit union."
Through a combination of webinars and workshops, New York credit unions developed an outreach plan for growth through the Hispanic market. Coopera will continue working with those credit unions that are ready to implement the outreach plan in their communities.
"It's one of the first programs we've been involved with that really lets us develop a plan from start to finish and customize it to our market," said Linda Garboczi, vice president of member relations and marketing at AmeriCU Credit Union. "The training program helped us identify gaps in our plan that we can now remedy before presenting to our board and management team."
De Dios explained that Coopera structures the training program so that the segment on actually marketing the credit union to potential Hispanic members is last; the parts focused on the necessary internal changes at the credit union looking into Hispanic marketing are covered first.
"The 17 credit unions which came to us all expressed an interest in Hispanic marketing, but were all in different places when it came to really starting to do it. We helped them first figure out whether and how they wanted to approach this challenge."
The Iowa Credit Union Association formed Coopera to help it work within the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program and then began to offer similar help to other credit union leagues. The New York Credit Union Association is the first association outside of Iowa to partner with the firm, De Dios said.