Bilingual banks tap into unreached Hispanic consumer markets.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 9print edition of GSA Business Report.

JPMorgan Chase South Carolina Market Director Alfonso Hernandez remembers hearing a story about one customer who had passed by several banks on his way because they didn't have what he needed.

Sure, they had the financial capability to withdraw $800 for him, but the customer wasn't so sure they would know what he was asking.

So he stepped into Chase bank and was greeted with a "Buenos das, seor! Cmo puedo ayudarle?"

"The need is there," said Hernandez, a second-generation Cuban-American.

Especially as the country's Latino population far outpaces the non-Hispanic population in both growth and use of financial products to achieve personal and professional goals, according to a 2017 study from the Harris Poll and Univision Communications. The market has witnessed an uptick of more than 313% in the number of Hispanic households earning $100,000, with Latino customers driving 74% of growth in the auto loan market.

In other words, three out of every fourth American taking out a car loan is Hispanic, while one out of every four Hispanic Americans wants to start a business.

"If we don't grow with Latinos, we don't grow at all," Henry Augsti, executive vice president at Bank of America, said at a 2018 forum hosted at JPMorgan Chase's global headquarters. "If we don't win with Latinos, we don't win at all. It is mission critical for us to be successful with this population."

Several studies from Bank of America show that Latino consumers also tend to be more likely to be lifetime customers, have a more bullish outlook on the economy and are more interested in learning about personal finance strategies such as investment, home ownership and retirement saving than the general population.

But Latino consumers are also more likely to rely on payday loans than non-Hispanic populations, according to the Univision Harris Poll study.

"They've worked hard for what they have, and my job as a banker, and the same thing for any of my employees, is that we can help them make the most of that money, so they can make the most of their wealth," Hernandez said.

Chase doesn't have a specific bilingual hiring strategy in place, but if the community has a need, he said that much greater eminence is placed on hiring employees who speak Spanish, especially as Chase expands across the Southeast and, in particular, in underserved markets like high-density Hispanic neighborhoods.

Hernandez, based...

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