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Serving New Americans: A Strategic Opportunity for Credit Unions

These reports offer a look at immigrant trends in the United States and the opportunities created for credit unions who can serve these new Americans.

Executive Summary

There’s a powerful force exerting itself on the U.S. economy, promising tremendous opportunities for those nimble enough to recognize and respond to it. That force is a population of more than 33 million immigrants – new Americans who are reshaping our society. Numbers – the largest immigrant population in our history – are just one of the issues explored by a colloquium of immigration experts and credit union CEOs.

What is the research about?

In session one, Steven Camarota provides a profile of the size, scope, ethnicity, and attitudes of today's foreign born population. In session two, Alejandro Portes examines the phenomenon of segmented assimilation by immigrants into the American society, and its determinants. In session three, Wayne A. Cornelius addresses the changing demographics of Mexican immigrants. In session four, Kim Bannan and David Grace discuss specific credit union initiatives designed to serve immigrant groups. In session five, a panel of CEOs discuss their credit union' strategies for serving new Americans. In the final session, a panel of marketing professionals discuss strategies for communicating the benefits of credit union membership to new Americans, and development of products and services to serve them. 

What are the credit union implications? 

Every credit union can respond to the opportunity presented by increased immigrant populations, regardless of its size, field of membership, or geographic location. Some keys to success in reaching out to immigrant populations include:

  • Understand the local market
  • Develop services for unbanked immigrants
  • Offer low-cost remittance services
  • Provide access to savings accounts
  • Explore small loan and mortgage programs
  • Provide education and special communication programs
  • Staff properly

This report is sponsored by the Center for Credit Union Research,University of Wisconsin-Madison, with colloquium hosted by the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California, San Diego.