In the Tampa Bay, Florida, region, migration from Spanish-speaking countries has increased more than 200% in the last two decades and that number continues to rise, creating social and economic change in the area, according to Lindsey Walker, executive assistant with $259 million/32,000-member Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union, Tampa Bay, Florida, and the 2020 CUES Emerging Leader, the first-ever winner.
That growth was driven by part by Tampa being a top destination for people from Puerto Rico escaping Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Other Spanish speakers have come to the Tampa area from Columbia, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
According to Walker, a national survey found these individuals prefer having documents available in their native language. “There’s always room for misinterpretation when you speak dual languages,” Walker explains in the show. “This is especially true for older Spanish speakers. They often bring a grandchild or friend with strong English skills to help them.” If they don’t, they sometimes sign without fully understanding the terms, which can become a real problem.
In the Tampa Bay region 24.3% of the unbanked and underbanked population rely on payday lenders, Walker points out in the show. These organizations prey heavily on minorities who lack access to mainstream financial products, she says.
Getting their business at the credit union instead can be as simple as letting a consumer “know they can become a member of a credit union or that we will accept their identification. They actually can get access to products.
“Since 2015, Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union has begun changing the narrative in our community and helping get the word out that we are there and we can support” Spanish speakers, she explains. “We make it known that we accept alternative types of identification for membership and loans. We have staffed our front line with over 74% being bilingual. Our branches are strategically built in Hispanic communities. We facilitate financial literacy classes in Spanish. We have bilingual branch leaders who have undergone” … financial literacy education courses.
In all, “with completion of the Spanish outreach program … we’ve been able to provide materials to our Spanish speaking community such as member applications, loan documents, website, marketing materials,” she adds. “It’s a huge leap for the credit union. The feedback that we have received as each segment of the program has gone live” has been very positive. “They’ve been so grateful that we are listening to their needs and responding.”
The credit union invested $56,000 and now anticipates 1% growth annually. With 8,200 Spanish-speaking members now, that’s 1,900 new members in the next five years “that we’ll be able to help,” Walker says. “We also anticipate an on-balance loan sheet increase of $128 million. Of that, we anticipate $6.4 million being deployed to our Hispanic communities. I think it’s a huge win-win.”
The show also gets into: