Many Americans find themselves unprepared for retirement or for an unexpected event. From saving for retirement and planning for life’s unexpected events, to protecting what’s been earned over years of work, building a robust and sustainable financial plan presents Americans with unique and, at times, uncomfortable challenges. More alarming is the fact that the country’s fastest-growing minority group is the least prepared: Latinos.
In a study recently published by the National Institute on Retirement Security, it was revealed that four out of five Hispanic households have less than $10,000 in retirement savings. Compared to three out of four black households and one out of two white households, Latinos have a long way to go before catching up to their counterparts. Much can be said for the reasons behind the trend, including lower wages than the average worker and less access to employee-sponsored retirement plans. However, another reason for this gap could be that financial companies believe that Latinos, like other immigrant groups, are going to eventually become part of the country’s “melting pot” and be considered part of the general population.
For marketers and brands, whether it’s business-to-business or business-to-consumers, Latinos have proven to be a tricky segment. The U.S. Latino population can be sliced up into myriad segments, including first generation, second generation, bilingual, Spanish only, English only but cultural identification with Latino culture, and the list goes on and on. However, what may seem like a negative challenge for financial marketers and brands should be seen as a positive one—a challenge, which, if accepted, could perhaps brighten the bottom lines by tapping into the fastest-growing (and optimistic) population in the country.
With more than 52 million Latinos in the United States, it is estimated that their buying power is going to reach $1.5 trillion by 2015. If it were a stand-alone country, the U.S. Latino population would have one of the largest economies in the world. While population size and purchasing power alone are impressive and relevant to financial companies, the Latino population is also young and a primary source of workforce growth and consumption. According to the latest Nielsen report on the state of Hispanics, more than 60 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population is under 35 years old and 75 percent are under 45. This age group (meaning the 75 percent?) is exactly the sweet spot for financial brands as they look to consumers who are starting to plan their financial futures or facing the responsibility of caring for aging parents.
Still need proof that financial brands should actively engage with the Latino population? Optimism. A study by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health—which polled Latinos on topics including education, finances, religion, health and jobs—found a generally optimistic feeling about the future. A sense of optimism in the economy, the future and optimism about job security are tremendous assets for financial brands whose advisors and representatives talk about products that help plan for their future, protect the American dream their families have worked for, and safeguard their families and nest eggs.
While there are perceived challenges for financial brands when communicating to the Latino community, it should not deter them from doing so. It is a young, educated and optimistic segment of the population ready to talk about saving for the future and continuing the American dream for which their families have strived.