Producers who serve Hispanics say that while their needs are no different than other clients, understanding Hispanic culture makes it possible to more effectively reach out to them.
National Underwriter spoke with agents in the most densely Hispanic populated U.S. markets including Houston, Los Angeles and Miami to learn what Hispanic consumers want when agents come calling.
In his work with the Latino community, Reuben Mercado, a financial planner with Space City agency in Houston who represents Prudential Financial Inc., says there is a level of financial conservatism among Hispanics, particularly older clients.
The “old school” might not have had a good experience with investing in their native country and are more interested in fixed annuities, he says. They are happy, he explains, if they invest in CDs and often ask whether products have the protection of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Younger Hispanics are willing to take a chance and accept more risk in products including variable annuities and mutual funds, Mercado continues.
And, in some cases, the younger generation is encouraging parents to venture into products with investment components, Mercado says. But, when this happens, they are not looking at tech stocks but at variable products with guarantees and death benefit features, he explains, because there still needs to be some security.
Generational differences also exist when long term care comes up, says Mercado. The younger generation is more open to the product, he continues, but for the older Latino male, there is less of a willingness to admit that the wife and kids will not be able to provide care. So, it often takes the experience of a brother or an uncle to make the benefits of LTCI apparent, he continues.
Service is important, based on conversations that Mercado says he recently had with several Hispanic business leaders in the Houston community. The message they delivered in those conversations, he says, is “I need people to talk to, not 800 numbers.” A lack of personal contact creates a feeling of mistrust and a lack of caring, he continues.
And, that need for a personal touch of a business relationship built on friendship and long-term ties parallels the importance of family in the Hispanic community, Mercado explains.
He relates the length one client went to in order to maintain good relationships among the clients children. When the self-made business owner was ready to retire, he sold the business and purchased individual businesses for each of his children in order to avoid squabbling, Mercado recalls.
What helps an agent in serving this community, he says, is corporate sponsorship of events that build relationships within the community.
That relationship is also built when the insurer recruits Spanish speaking agents, Mercado says, and he estimates that if he could not speak Spanish, his book of business would be about half of what it is.
It would also be valuable if insurance contracts were written in Spanish, although he acknowledges that this is an expensive commitment for companies.