FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (6/16/08)--The opportunities for credit unions to open their doors to the Hispanic population has never been greater, Juan Hernandez told attendees of the Fifth Latino Credit Union Conference in Dallas this week. Hernandez is a former cabinet member of the Mexican government and a credit union member (LoneStar Leaguer
June 13). Hispanics represent a large percentage of the unbanked. “They are not only being robbed by check cashers, payday lenders and pawnshops, but also by criminals who know they bank out of their back pocket,” he said. Credit unions should have a physical presence in Latino communities, listen to them, and “be there when it counts. But before launching any initiatives, credit unions need to do research, train staff, build infrastructure and develop processes for serving Latinos,” he said. Rene Vasquez Perez, director of institutional development for Caja Popular Mexicana (CPM), the largest credit union in Mexico, said credit unions should:
* Make the account opening process easy; * Make sure immigrants know their deposits are insured and safe; * Be in Latino neighborhoods and set hours of operation accordingly; and * Have a staff trained to answer their questions.
CPM signed a people-to-people partnership with the Texas and California Credit Union Leagues in 2002. The conference was organized by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions in collaboration with the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals, with sponsorship by the Texas Credit Union League.