Unity One’s Three-Pronged Approach to Serve the Hispanic Community

The fastest growing segment of our country’s population represents an oportunidad importante for credit unions.

Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the American population, with 2005 Census data reporting over 42.7 million individuals. This segment represents a large market opportunity for all types of organizations, including credit unions. With so many groups vying for this market, the challenge is how to turn a target market into many mutually beneficial relationships.

With a community charter to serve Ft. Worth and several cities and communities near-by, Unity One Federal Credit Union ($113 million in Ft. Worth, TX) has a large pool of potential members within the Hispanic community. To effectively serve these members,the credit union adopted three successful strategies that have helped the credit union build strong ties within the communities and grow members.

  1. Product Development. Unity One developed products that fit the needs of these members including Directo a Mexico ACH money transfers, check cashing and an alternative payday loan. It introduced a cash advance loan of up to $500 with the following structure:
    1. No application fee
    2. Interest rate of only 18%
    3. Payment options of:
      1. $75 per month, $35 bi-weekly, $35 semi-monthly, $15 per week
    4. One-year of job history required, with two recent pay stubs, two personal references, and a debt ratio of 40% or less
    5. Review loan once per year, eligible for increase with good repayment history
  2. Branch Design. The credit union bought and remodeled an old Burger King restaurant in a predominately Hispanic populated area of the Fort Worth Stockyards. It transformed this branch into an inviting atmosphere for the this communtiy by:
    1. Using familiar colors and building materials from Mexico: Cantera stone, Saltillo tile flooring, outside fountain and columns
    2. Building a large community room (in the old BK playground) available for public use
    3. Incorporating the look and feel of the old western stockyards with the look and feel of old Mexico
    4. Adding modern technology (plasma screens showing advertising, new cash recycler, direct TV showing Spanish television, surround sound movie screen for public use)
  3. Community Partnerships. Unity One views community involvement as a key success factor in reaching this segment. Along with hiring a prominent Hispanic community member that helped with staff training and community networking, it alsodid the following:
    1. Partnered with influential Mexican organizations and leaders including the Chiapas Mexico Trade Office; the Mayors of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajato, Mexico; and the Mexican Consulate in Dallas
    2. Started a Hispanic Advisory Board with local community leaders and a credit union management team
    3. Participated in several Cinco de Mayo and Hispanic festivals (including La Gran Fiesta de Fort Worth) to increase brand and name awareness
    4. Hosted a community Soccer Tournament for elementary kids to celebrate Diez y Seiz
    5. Opened a CU Kidz Bank branch in a local elementary school and is active in promoting and teaching financial education to the general community

Unity One’s approach provides a broad framework for other credit unions looking to reach and serve the Hispanic community. These efforts, while creative, are not specific to Unity One or the Ft. Worth area. Effective product development, customizeddesign, and community partnerships are strategies that other credit unions can adopt and modify for their circumstances to build relationships with specific demographics in their area.

To learn more about these and other strategies, join us for Developing Meaningful Relationships with the Hispanic Community a webinar brought to you by Callahan & Associates.

April 21, 2016

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