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Credit Unions’ Powerful Role in Latino Financial Education

In Latin American countries, the concept of financial education is not taught in schools nor by financial institutions. If you were to scroll through the website of a Latin American Bank it will probably take you some time to find a link to an educational portal or blog. It’s rare to find financial literacy programs, even at the very same financial institutions that provide checking, savings and loans. Most Latinos learn the process of buying a house or a car from their family and friends and then use their best judgment to make their financial decisions.

Hispanics who move to the U.S. encounter different types of problems when it comes to financial education. For most Hispanics, the U.S. dollar is a new currency, so that learning curve confronts them along with the inevitable exchange-rate math they do in their head when buying goods or making big purchases. The very basics of financial education are a necessity that credit unions are primed to provide as part of their service to the Latino community, which is ripe with young, tech-savvy new potential members who make recommendations to their friends and family. Outsourcing your Hispanic marketing efforts to experts who understand the nuances and cultural mores is often your best bet. Discover more about YMC’s Hispanic marketing here and don’t hesitate to reach out to me to learn more.

Latinos will take the time figure out if the money they’re spending to purchase goods would be too much to spend instead of sending some more back home to help their families. As community-based cooperatives, credit unions can help Latinos feel at ease knowing we won’t take advantage of them. Credit unions can help them understand how the U.S. dollar works, how the American financial system works and how to budget for their needs through educational and marketing efforts.

Banking and budgeting are challenging for a lot of people no matter where they’re from. Imagine how someone who comes from another country and has very little knowledge of financial institutions feels. Latinos are fearful of walking into banks to establish financial services relationships. Managing money is intimidating, but especially when you don’t fully understand the banking system and the language barrier may prohibit you further.

Credit unions can differentiate themselves by providing vital financial tools and resources for Latinos to learn the American banking system, implementing outreach programs, sharing educational and marketing materials in print and online – and in Spanish, and allowing members to schedule one-on-one conversations. Highlight the benefits and show them how to best use the products or services your credit union provides for their particular situation. And ensure your credit unions’ products and services meet their needs, such as international wire transfers, credit building tools and, of course, financial coaching.

One of the most important components of financial coaching is education around the prudent use of credit to build wealth. Credit is a new concept for most Latinos, so it’s extremely important to focus on debt and its proper management when marketing to Hispanic consumers. It’s a complicated subject, but credit unions are the experts! We can help build wealth and empower Latinos to conquer their American Dream. When credit unions make a genuine effort to implement authentic financial coaching programs to help Latinos learn and understand the U.S. financial system, they can make better educated decisions, live with less stress, and regard your credit union as their trusted financial partner. They’re an optimistic culture, so market and educate to their ideal selves.

Financial education is an integral part of credit unions’ core values. As community-oriented, not-for-profit financial institutions, credit unions can distinguish themselves by educating all of our members, including the Latino market within your field of members, and ensuring members fully understand the products and services your credit union is providing.

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