January 23, 2014

Prudential: Advisors Failing to Meet Hispanics Along Continuum of Immigrant Life

It’s been said many times that Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the United States and the financial planning industry is certainly aware of that reality.

Yet the results of Prudential Financial’s 2014 Hispanic American Financial Experience survey reveal that the industry as a whole needs to do much more groundwork in order to understand the Latino community, the way in which its wired and its specific financial planning goals.

What’s lacking, according to a panel of participants who discussed the survey’s key findings in Miami Wednesday, is a more nuanced approach to the Hispanic-American community by the financial planning industry – one that takes into account exactly where Hispanic families are on the “acculturation” spectrum and helps them bridge the gap between their cultural peculiarities with respect to financial planning and the mindset and plethora of financial planning options that exist in the U.S.

The key to that approach, said Anna Escobedo Cabral, Unit Chief for Strategic Communications in the External Relations Division of the Inter-American Development Bank, who also served as the 42nd Treasurer of the United States, is information. Being able to give the right information to Hispanic families, whether they’re at a lifestage where putting food on the table is their greatest concern, or whether they’re working in a professional capacity, should be a key consideration for financial planners.

“People have the power and the tools here -- they just need to access the information and that is how their quality of life will improve and bolster their aspirations for themselves and their families,” Cabral said.

According to the survey, Hispanics are more than willing to engage with financial advisors. But they feel advisors aren’t reaching out to them enough. Whether that’s because of a perceived language and cultural barrier on the part of advisors isn’t clear, said George Castineiras, senior VP of total retirement solutions at Prudential, but advisors need to know that most Hispanics are not looking for an advisor to speak to them in Spanish: They just want to be able to engage with someone they can trust, he said, and cultivating that relationship of trust is extremely important.

A huge part of that is information and being able to deliver the right kind of information to different Hispanic families. Many Hispanic professionals aren’t, for example, engaged in their company retirement plan to the extent that the rest of the American population is, Castineiras said, so education and outreach is important there.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are Hispanics that need very basic yet crucial information about the American financial system for their future, such as the nitty-gritties of credit and debt. There, advisors would be well served by connecting with organizations like Hispanic Unity, which, CEO Josie Bacallao said, works to provide education on a number of different topics that help Hispanics get the knowledge they need all along the continuum of immigrant life.

Clearly, the financial needs of Hispanics will evolve as they move along that continuum. However, regardless of where they may be on the spectrum, Hispanics – like most immigrant communities -- place a great deal of importance on their children’s future and on taking care of their parents, whether they live in this country or overseas.

These are the dominant cultural themes that advisors need to not only take into consideration, said Alexandra Galindez, VP of women and multicultural marketing for Prudential, but also work with to shape perceptions and goals for the future. Framing retirement planning, for instance, within this context can help a great deal, since for most Hispanics, “the connection hasn’t been made that taking care of yourself helps in taking care of the generation behind you,” Galindez said.

“Taking care of yourself allows you to take care of others, so that is where the challenge lies and where the outreach should be made,” Castineiras agreed.

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