It’s very important to me and all of us at Nutmeg, including our staff and Board of Directors, to do the best job of serving all our members. For this reason, we spend a lot of time and put a lot of hard work into learning about our communities and the people who live in them. One area that we have placed particular focus on is the Hispanic community. We’ve done extensive research and over 15% of our members have a Hispanic ethnic background. This is slightly above the state average of 13%. We are excited to have diversity in our membership and welcome families from every nation of origin.
Many in the Hispanic community face unique challenges as they or family members often have to deal with the complexities of immigration. We work with credit union industry experts that specialize in helping credit unions develop programs to support outreach to immigrant communities. If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you will have already read all about our CDFI designation and our Juntos Avanzamos designation.
Having access to financial services is a key component for immigrants as it helps establish credit, create a record of residency and pay bills. This is especially important for immigrants that are undocumented. It’s important for all immigrants, documented or undocumented, to have access to basic banking services. For undocumented immigrants, who do not have social security numbers, use of an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) can be used in place. These ITINs allow financial institutions and other organizations to authenticate the person and provide accounts, loans, and other essential financial services. Nutmeg recently began accepting ITINs as a form of identification and we have already opened several auto loans and other accounts for local immigrant families.
Based on feedback from Hispanic members, we have recently created a new account designed to help save better. Our new Juntos Ahorramos (Spanish for Together We Save) account is designed to help people save for a purpose. We frequently hear from members that they find saving money to be difficult, but believe if they had help staying organized it would be easier. Our staff can help set a plan to automatically save a little each week for vacations, back to school expenses, birthdays or anything else the family needs to save for. As an added bonus, the interest rate for this account is higher than a typical savings account.
Much of our Hispanic member growth has been through word of mouth. Hispanic members frequently refer their family and friends as a result of receiving good service. This kind of organic growth is essential. To support this awareness, we have TV, radio and other advertisements in Spanish. We also have web and print materials in Spanish and have received great feedback from members regarding these. We have also developed community partnerships that help us reach underserved members. The Catholic Charities of Hartford is a great organization that is dedicated to serving local families in need. Many of the people they serve are minorities and immigrants. We are proud to continue to partner with them and hope to partner with other organizations that will help us reach underserved and underbanked communities.
If you have any recommendations for organizations that would be good partners for Nutmeg, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at 1.800.526.6933 or 860.513.5000.
President & CEO