Financial education is needed everywhere, but especially in the Hispanic community, said Marilyn Alverio, founder of Ethnic Marketing Solutions, at last week’s Diversity Luncheon during the Big “I” Legislative Conference.
Marilyn Alverio, founder of Ethnic Marketing Solutions, speaks to Big "I" members during the Diversity Luncheon at last week's Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Photo: Gio Quinteros
Alverio, the luncheon’s keynote speaker, noted research by LIMRA about the actions, beliefs and behaviors of Hispanics pertaining to financial issues, while also drawing from her personal experience.
“There’s a huge lack of knowledge of the financial kind [within the Hispanic community]—they just don’t know,” she said. “Growing up in the inner city with very little money, [my family] didn’t even have a bank account.”
Alverio said basic financial planning help is needed in the Hispanic community, and independent agents should market this skill. But she cautions a characteristic of the community is the desire for trusted advisors to want to spend time with them.
“You’re probably not going to get them on the first [try], you’re probably not going to get them on the second [try],” she said. “But if you’re committed, you will get them on the third, because they see that you’re coming back.”
Building trust and infrastructure within this community is key, Alverio added, and it may require a different approach than what independent agents use with other clients. Agents should also be aware of three types of groups within the community, she said.
“Fifty percent of Latinos in this country are Spanish-dominant,” Alverio said. “Twenty-five percent are bilingual, like me. And then you have 25% that are more assimilated.”
All three of these groups will remain loyal to businesses that the community endorses though, she said.
Alverio spoke to more than 100 agents and company representatives who attended the lunch hosted by the Big “I” Diversity Task Force, a group of roughly 15 company partners, appointed member agents and a state executive. She worked for 25 years in the education, financial services and health insurance industries before becoming a business owner.
Because banks have Spanish-speaking, local employees, independent agents need to think of them as a point of contact within a Hispanic community and an opportunity to cross-sell, Alverio said.
“[Agents need to] help individuals that are maybe just opening up a bank account for the first time, or a savings account, to say, ‘Do you know that there’s also this product here, and there’s also that product there?’” she said. “Because you’ve got them—they’ve got that level of trust and understanding and loyalty to these people [already].”
Diane Rusignola is IA managing editor.