Latino Community Insights

How Latinos build wealth after the recession

For many Americans, a bank account is the entry point to the financial sector. Checking accounts are often a bridge to savings accounts and debit cards, as well as all-important credit products such as credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages. Unfortunately, many Latino families were knocked out of the mainstream financial system during the Great Recession, when the Latino community lost more than 66% of its wealth.

Nearly 10 years later, Latinos have not returned to traditional banking, where a person gets all products and services from one institution. More and more, low-income Latinos are managing their financial lives with a combination of traditional and nontraditional products, services, and advice. However, both traditional and alternative financial services struggle to adequately serve our nation’s most economically vulnerable consumers.

Today, more than one in six Americans is Latino, representing one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population. As a younger population with substantial projected growth, U.S. Hispanics will have significant role in shaping the nation’s future. Latinos’ buying power is projected to reach a staggering $1.7 trillion by 2019 and will represent one out of every four people in this country by 2050, signaling that financial institutions of all stripes need to do more to reach this population.

To capture community trends and understand how Latino families are using various products to meet their financial needs, UnidosUS formed the Financial Services Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is composed of 10 UnidosUS Affiliates who provide insights on the use of financial products and services in Latino communities across the country. These community-based organizations come from the larger UnidosUS Affiliate Network of nearly 300 nonprofits that are trusted resources for information and services in Latino communities across the country. The Advisory Council comprises the following organizations, which collectively serve more than 40,000 Hispanic families annually:

•    Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago, IL
•    CNC, Miami, FL
•    Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Brooklyn, NY
•    East LA Community Corporation, Los Angeles, CA
•    Eastmont Community Center, Los Angeles, CA
•    Hacienda CDC, Portland, OR
•    Homes on the Hill CDC, Columbus, OH
•    Northwest Side Housing Center, Chicago, IL
•    SouthWest Improvement Council, Denver, CO
•    YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region, El Paso, TX

These UnidosUS Affiliates work with low-income families on a daily basis and are uniquely positioned to report on how the financial sector is meeting the needs of Hispanic households and what the attitudes of the community are toward financial products and services. This report series documents Advisory Council observations of, and interactions with, the financial sector and how it affects Latino financial health.

1Rakesh Kochhar, Richard Fry and Paul Taylor, “Hispanic Household Wealth Fell by 66% from 2005 to 2009,” Pew Research Center, Hispanic Trends, (Washington, DC: July 2011), http://www.pewhispanic.org/2011/07/26/the-toll-of-the-great-recession/.