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U.S. Latino Families, Heads of Households, and the Elderly: Emerging Trends in Financial Services and Asset‑Building Behaviors

This is the third and final research study on the financial needs of the fast-growing Latino population.

Executive Summary

The Filene Research Institute has a long-term interest in better understanding the financial needs of the Latino population in the United States. Between 2004 and 2007, Arizona State University scholar Bárbara Robles published two Filene studies based on several years of individual tax return data from the borderland areas of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Her research concluded that the financial needs of the fast-growing Latino population were becoming more acute, complex, and underserved. Robles offered a series of practical suggestions for credit unions and other consumer finance firms looking to better serve this specific market segment, including: 

  • Reducing the level of complexity of financial offerings. 
  • Understanding the fundamentals of being “culturally appealing.” 
  • Identifying and partnering with local community-based organizations as an effective outreach mechanism.

Like any good trilogy, this third research study by Robles brings some closure to the topic of financial services and Latinos, along with raising a few lingering questions.

What is the research about?

This report focus on on a number of key features of the Latino financial experience including:

  • The Latino community has a growing demand for transactional and savings products.
  • Certain demographic features of the Latino population present unique opportunities, such as the incidence of multiple generations living under one roof, a lower than average age than the overall population, and a higher frequency of married couples.
  • Latinos seek products that will allow them to build assets: individual development accounts, educational savings accounts, investment accounts, and mortgage.

What are the credit union implications?

While the data indicate that the U.S. Latino population is neither the wealthiest nor the best credit risk, the sheer numbers (and associated needs) of this group make it a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Credit unions can take advantage of this opportunity by crafting a bold campaign of community partnership and outreach, including niche marketing strategies that convey trust and continuity in a culturally sensitive manner. Unique opportunities also abound in creating and promoting innovative financial products based on the specific needs of Latino families.

This report is sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation and its signature national program, REAL Solutions.