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FDIC Outlook

In Focus This Quarter:
The U.S. Consumer Sector

Banks Are Still Sizing Up Opportunities in the Growing Hispanic Market
Within the past few years, Hispanics have become the largest ethnic group in the United States, and they are projected to be one of the fastest growing population segments throughout much of the 21st century. Banks are increasingly aware of these trends and have been looking to expand their presence in this vast market. However, Hispanics are not a homogeneous group, and current migration patterns clearly show that regional and socioeconomic differences within the Hispanic population will significantly influence the types of banking products and services needed by and designed for this group.

Banks' interest in the Hispanic market is being driven by the search for new sources of revenue and recognition of the substantial growth potential of this underserved market. In addition to the rapid rate of growth in the Hispanic population, factors contributing to the Hispanic market's appeal include its relative youth, a rapid rise in affluent households, and growing participation rates in financial services.

This article examines the geographical areas where Hispanics now live in the highest concentrations as well as areas where Hispanic populations are growing the fastest. It also assesses the already strong and growing purchasing power of Hispanics and categorizes their financial service needs into stages as they gain wealth and their demand for financial services evolves. Further, it uses current bank data to gain insight into potential areas of financial services growth for banks regarding this ethnic group.

The Hispanic Market Is the Future
Many industry analysts believe that more than half of all U.S. retail banking growth in financial services during the next two decades will originate from the growing Hispanic market. A projection made in 2003 by the TowerGroup, a research and advisory firm that focuses on the global financial services industry, estimates that up to 70 percent of the growth for U.S. financial services between 2003 and 2008 could come from the Hispanic market alone.1 In 2003, Eusebio Rivera, the head of Hispanic Initiatives at Bank of America, said that "in the next couple of years, 80 percent of our growth will come from the multicultural market, and 60 percent of that will come from the Hispanic population."2 Furthermore, U.S. banks are projected to spend over $8.5 billion marketing to and servicing the Hispanic market from 2003 to 2005.3

The New York-based Research & Advisory Group projects that between 2002 and 2007 the number of Hispanic households with checking accounts will increase by 57 percent, those with savings accounts will grow by 76 percent, and those using investment products will grow by 94 percent.4 Although Hispanics represented an average of just 7 percent of all U.S. households between 1992 and 2001, they accounted for 14 percent of total growth in asset accounts and 13 percent of growth in debt accounts.5 It is projected that between 2001 and 2007, these rates of growth will have accelerated further, with a projected 20.5 percent growth in asset accounts and 15.5 percent growth in debt accounts.6

Hispanic Market Includes Both High-Concentration and High-Growth Areas
Map 1 shows counties with the largest concentration of Hispanics in the United States (above the national average of 12.5 percent) based on 2000 census data. As of July 1, 2002, more than three-quarters (nearly 30 million) of Hispanics lived in seven states: California (11.9 million), Texas (7.3 million), New York (3.1 million), Florida (3.0 million), Illinois (1.7 million), Arizona (1.5 million), and New Jersey (1.2 million).7

Many Hispanics are settling in places that had very little Hispanic immigration before the 1980s. In fact, every part of the United States experienced an increase in Hispanic population during the 1990s, in rural, suburban, and urban settings alike. Map 2 shows high-growth counties, defined as those that experienced Hispanic population growth of 400 percent or more between 1990 and 2000. In contrast to the concentrations shown in Map 1, much of the high growth was centered in Midwestern and Southeastern states. While Hispanic populations continue to grow in the highly concentrated areas via immigration and birthrates, a smaller but fast-growing new wave of Hispanic immigrants are seeking new destinations, particularly in suburbs and medium-size cities.8 These areas will continue to experience rapid population growth, drawn by "the networks of families and friends now being established in these communities."9 Additionally, an increasing number of second- or higher-generation Hispanics from high-concentration counties are also migrating to high-growth counties.

Map 1
High Hispanic Concentration Areas by CountyD

Map 2
High-Growth Hispanic Areas by CountyD

It is critical to note that there are substantial socioeconomic differences between Hispanics in the fastest growing areas of the country and those in traditional settlement areas such as the Southwest. Table 1 compares the differences between these two groups. In general, Hispanics in high-concentration counties are more likely to be bilingual or speak English, have slightly higher incomes, and have more education than their counterparts in high-growth Hispanic areas. A major reason for the difference between the two groups is that many Hispanics in high-growth areas (25 percent) tend to be recent immigrants.

Table 1

Demographic Characteristics: High-Concentration versus High-Growth Counties
  High Concentration1 High Growth2
Total Population (as of 2000) 86,147,017 13,447,705
Hispanic Population (as of 2000) 25,891,446 712,162
Total Population Growth Rate (1990 to 2000) 17.0% 25.4%
Hispanic Population Growth Rate (1990 to 2000) 49.4% 629.5%
Share of Hispanic Population 30.1% 5.3%
Hispanic Mobility
Moved from Different State 3.6% 18.6%
Moved from Different Country 6.9% 25.1%
Hispanic Citizenship
Noncitizens (Number of Hispanic Origin) 7,507,927 387,627
Noncitizens as a Share of Hispanic Population 29.0% 54.4%
Hispanic Language Dominance3
English Dominant 16.9% 12.9%
Bilingual (Spanish) 54.7% 37.8%
Spanish Dominant 28.4% 49.3%
Hispanic Educational Attainment4
Less Than High School 50.4% 59.6%
High School Graduate 21.6% 18.6%
College Graduate 8.8% 8.9%
Household Income
Average Household Income $60,498 $52,486
Hispanic Average Household Income $43,301 $43,286
Average Household Income Growth (1990 to 2000) 44.2% 56.8%
Hispanic Average Household Income Growth (1990 to 2000) 46.7% 31.0%

Notes: 1 See Map 1. 2 See Map 2. 3 Language dominance is for the age cohort 18 to 64. 4 Educational attainment is measured for those over 25 years of age.
Source: U.S. 2000 Decennial Census and authors' calculations.

Fast Pace of Hispanic Population Growth Primarily Due to Immigration
During the 1990s, the U.S. Hispanic population increased by a stunning 58 percent, from 22.4 million to 35.3 million, while the rest of the U.S. population saw only a 9 percent rate of increase.10 At the end of the decade, Hispanics made up 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, up from 9 percent in 1990. Massive immigration during this period fueled the overall growth of the Hispanic population, accounting for almost half of the increase. Moreover, an increasingly large number of Hispanics are emigrating from Central and South American countries.11 These "other Hispanics," as they are known, are bringing greater diversity to the U.S. Hispanic population, making it more difficult to talk about Hispanics in general terms.

The U.S. Hispanic population is expected to continue to grow rapidly over the next half-century, tripling in size between 2000 and 2050.12 Continued immigration, high birthrates, and a young childbearing population will all contribute to this increase. In turn, this growing Hispanic market will require financial products, such as mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and car loans, to meet their needs as they start families and rear children.

Hispanic Immigration and Labor Trends Boost U.S. Economy
The pace of U.S. economic growth during the 1990s was aided greatly by immigration. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas economist Pia M. Orrenius found that immigration contributed to job growth by providing workers to (1) fill an increasing share of jobs overall, (2) take jobs in labor-scarce regions, and (3) fill the types of jobs native workers often shun.13

Many foreign-born migrants filled labor force positions in certain worker-scarce regions of the country such as the Midwest, parts of the Southeast, and New England—some of the fastest growing areas of the Hispanic population during the 1990s.14 A significant share of employment in fast-growing counties was in manufacturing, construction, and agriculture. In contrast, Hispanics in the high-concentration counties exhibited an employment profile similar to that of the total U.S. workforce.

Finally, the effects of globalization and lower standards of living across Latin American countries, as well as U.S. economic dependence on migratory labor, suggest foreign immigration flows will continue. Although activities related to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the maquiladora industry have benefited from economic activity along the U.S.-Mexico border, they also have resulted in some elimination of jobs south of the border, thereby motivating Mexican workers to migrate to the United States.15

Growing Purchasing Power Is Driving Demand for Financial Services
The Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia has estimated that Hispanic purchasing power as measured by disposable income grew by 194 percent between 1990 and 2003, from $222 billion to $653 billion.16 The latter sum is actually larger than the estimated nominal GDP of Mexico in 2003.17 The Selig Center also projects that U.S. Hispanic purchasing power, stimulated by population and income growth, will approach $1 trillion by 2009.18 This aggregate income will be spent, saved, and invested, all of which will spur demand for checking accounts, consumer credit, mortgages, and investment services.

Hispanic Financial Services Marketplace Is Fertile Ground for Banks

Banking Services Are Currently Underused...
The rapid growth of the underbanked Hispanic market suggests a new growth opportunity for many institutions. Although the volume of deposits per bank branch in high-growth Hispanic areas remains substantially below that of the nation, the rate of deposit growth in these areas is twice as fast as that of the nation, which suggests the gap is rapidly closing.

...But Projected Growth Is Strong
Banks and thrifts in many of the fastest growing Hispanic counties have the advantage of proximity to a potential source of new customers. As shown in Table 2, high-growth Hispanic areas experienced substantially faster growth in both deposits and branch formation than did either highly concentrated Hispanic areas or the nation as a whole. Moreover, a continued rapid increase in Hispanic populations in these areas suggests that strong bank deposit growth will continue.

Table 2

.S. Deposit Characteristics Compared to Designated High Hispanic Concentration Areas and High Hispanic Growth Areas
  High Concentration High Growth
Average Branch Deposits (Total Deposits/Number of Branches in 1994, $000s) $61,580 $27,333
Average Branch Deposits (Total Deposits/Number of Branches in 2000, $000s) $75,059 $38,560
Average Branch Deposits (Percentage Change 1994 to 2000) 22% 41%
Change in Branches (1994 to 2000) 4% 8%
Change in Deposits (1994 to 2000) 26% 53%
Notes: 1 Deposit and branch information is as of June 30, 1994, and 2000 and excludes U.S. Territories and Puerto Rico. 2 There were 277 counties in the high growth group, compared with 385 counties in the high concentration group.
Source: FDIC Summary of Deposits.

Gains in Hispanic Labor Force Reflected in Branch Growth
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the Hispanic labor force will increase by 33 percent between 2002 and 2012, more than three times faster than growth in the non-Hispanic labor force over the same period.19 Demand for Hispanic workers is credited with helping to revitalize U.S. labor markets since the 2001 recession, with immigrants playing an important role.20 Hispanic employment gains are a reflection of the Hispanic labor force growing much more rapidly than other segments of the labor force and moving to areas where there is a greater demand for labor. This geographic movement is also reflected in the increasing number of bank branches being opened in the 277 high-growth counties where the Hispanic population increased by more than 400 percent in the 1990s. The number of bank branches grew by 8 percent in the high-growth counties versus 5 percent overall, and total deposits in those branches grew by 53 percent versus 27 percent for the nation as a whole (see Table 2).

Understanding Unique Needs of the Hispanic Community Is Key to Successful Marketing of Financial Services
Marketing approaches targeting the Hispanic community are not yet mainstream. Rather, they are tailored to where the Hispanic population currently resides, whether in high-growth or high-concentration counties, because acculturation levels among Hispanics in these two groups are very different. Generally, Hispanics in high-growth counties have lower levels of education, slightly lower incomes, and less proficiency in speaking English. In addition, significant shares of Hispanics in high-growth counties are foreign immigrants and consequently have lower citizenship rates.

Thus, high-growth Hispanic counties will have a greater need for financial literacy programs, cash remittance services, and bilingual tellers and loan officers. Because this wave of Hispanic immigration is relatively new to these areas of the country, banks there face the challenge of integrating this growing Hispanic population into the mainstream of the financial services industry. Nevertheless, strong immigration flows will continue in high-concentration counties as well, providing opportunities for banks there. Overall, the growth in Hispanic population and income will be a major demographic force for the next half-century.

Multicultural Events Used in Marketing Programs
According to the 2003 American Bankers Association Bank Marketing Planning Survey Report, 21 percent of small banks targeted ethnic communities in multicultural marketing events as a means of meeting prospective ethnic customers. The survey reported that 62 percent of Southwestern banks specifically targeted ethnic communities in 2003, most likely aimed at their large Hispanic populations. While only 20 percent of banks headquartered in the Southeast directly marketed to ethnic communities in 2003, an additional 27 percent say they plan to target ethnic communities. This increased interest suggests that bankers in the Southeast are becoming more aware of the high rate of Hispanic population growth in their area and the growing Hispanic market for new bank products and services. How banks go about capturing this market will depend in large part on the financial life cycle (explained below) of the target group.

Understanding Financial Life Cycles Is Vital
Most banks are still in the early stages of developing their strategies for the Hispanic market. They may benefit from determining the financial life-cycle stage of their target households (see Chart 1).

Chart 1
In General, as Households Move Toward Higher Incomes, They Progress to Higher Stages of the Financial Life CycleD

The financial life cycle of Hispanics can be divided into four stages: (1) pre-banking services, (2) basic banking services, (3) advanced banking services, and (4) affluent banking services. As Hispanic households earn higher levels of income and become more acculturated into U.S. society, their demand for banking products and services will evolve from pre-banking services to more affluent banking services. A strong correlation exists between financial services participation by Hispanics and their level of acculturation—both "the individual acculturation trends of recent immigrants and the relative weight of this group to overall Hispanic population growth."21 As Hispanic immigrants spend more time in the United States, they increasingly avail themselves of different kinds of financial products. As mentioned, most high-growth Hispanic counties during the 1990s were in the Midwest and Southeast, and Hispanics in these areas are more likely to be in one of the first two stages, pre-banking or basic banking services.

Stage 1, Pre-Banking Services
First-generation (foreign-born) Hispanics are typically at the pre-banking services level, or Stage 1, often because they have had very few dealings with, or little confidence in, banks in their native countries. As a result, financial education is a very important need for this group, as most immigrants know little about financial planning and other financial services. Banks and regulatory agencies are already seeing the value in conducting financial literacy workshops, often in cooperation with community groups, to improve financial management skills and increase trust in mainstream financial institutions (see the inset box regarding the FDIC Money Smart program).

FDIC Money Smart Program
In addition to its banking supervisory role, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is involved in financial education to help fight predatory lending, encourage financial institutions to identify untapped markets, and assist consumers in shaping their financial future. The FDIC contributes to these goals through its Money Smart program, which is a set of ten training modules for instructor and individual use covering basic financial topics. Topics include a description of deposit and credit services offered by financial institutions, choosing and maintaining a checking account, the mechanics of budgeting, the importance of saving, and how to obtain and use credit effectively.

Money Smart was designed specifically for the 8 million to 12 million families currently outside of the economic mainstream, as well as those who may be familiar with some of the financial basics, but would like to enhance their financial knowledge in certain areas to operate more effectively within the banking system. It starts with the basics but increases in complexity. At present, the Money Smart program comes in a paper format, on CD-ROM, or in a Web-based format. The instructor version contains everything necessary to begin teaching the program right away and includes take-home booklets and other resources for participants. It can be taught in its entirety, or specific modules can be used to fill in the gaps in other financial education programs. The computer-based instruction (available on CD-ROM and through the FDIC Web site) can be used to complement classroom instruction or for independent self-paced study by consumers. The material may be photocopied and distributed without authorization from the FDIC and is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Through the Money Smart program, the FDIC is working toward some ambitious goals, such as enlisting 1,000 alliance members, including banks, corporations, government agencies, and civic, fraternal, and religious organizations; delivering 100,000 copies of Money Smart curricula; and reaching 1,000,000 people in all 50 states by December 31, 2007. Money Smart is being taught by a host of diverse organizations in a variety of settings, and to date, the program has over 900 alliance members. The FDIC has distributed more than 160,550 copies of Money Smart and had over 294,400 people attend at least one financial education class using the Money Smart curriculum, with more than 39,180 establishing new banking relationships. To learn more about the FDIC's Money Smart program, contact an FDIC Community Affairs Officer from one of our eight regional or area offices or visit

Stage 2, Entry-Level Basic Banking Services
Entry-level personal basic banking services (Stage 2) are aimed at Hispanics seeking products to establish a banking relationship and credit needs. A survey by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that only 65 percent of Hispanics have bank accounts, compared with 95 percent of non-Hispanic whites.22 The disparity is even greater in areas that experienced significant Hispanic immigration in the 1990s. Candidates at Stage 2 are likely to be first-generation Hispanics who have lived in the United States for a time and now need basic checking and savings accounts in addition to remittance services.

Stage 3, Advanced Banking Services
Advanced banking services (Stage 3) are aimed primarily at second- and third-generation Hispanics looking beyond basic banking services and focusing more on mortgage, personal, and business lending products. Since the 1970s, almost half of the total growth in the Hispanic population growth has been driven by immigration. However, this trend is reversing. The Pew Hispanic Center projects that over the next two decades, second- and third-generation Hispanics will make up 75 percent of total growth in the Hispanic population, with new immigrants representing the remaining 25 percent.23 Consequently, the Stage 3 population group is likely to grow into a large and profitable market segment ripe for greater banking development.

Stage 4, Affluent Banking Services
As second- or higher-generation Hispanics become wealthier, better educated, and more acculturated, their financial services participation levels rise, and they are apt to avail themselves of the higher margin banking products and services that make up Stage 4, or affluent banking services. According to census data, almost two-thirds of Hispanic households had incomes of less than $35,000 in 1990 (see Chart 2). However, by 2000, only slightly more than half of Hispanic households were earning less than $35,000. Middle-income Hispanic households (those earning between $35,000 and $74,999) rose by more than a quarter during this ten-year period, and affluent Hispanic households (those earning $75,000 and above) nearly tripled. A study by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute shows that "Latino middle class households—defined as those with annual incomes over $40,000—increased from just under 1.5 million in 1979 to almost 2.7 million by 1998, or by about 80 percent in twenty years."24

Chart 2
The Share of Middle-Income and Affluent Hispanic Households Grew Rapidly during the 1990sD

As their purchasing power continues to increase, Hispanics will have a significant need for credit cards, residential mortgages, consumer loans, and other products. The difference in homeownership rates by ethnicity demonstrates the potential demand for homeownership in this largely untapped market. As of June 30, 2004, the national average for homeownership was 69.3 percent, significantly higher than the 47.4 percent rate for Hispanics.25 As Hispanics become more acculturated and their incomes rise, they should become a major source of demand for mortgage products.

Remittances Are a Hot Product for Immigrants
Because many Hispanics in the pre-banking group are newly arrived in the United States, they are likely to make greater use of remittances, a rapidly growing and lucrative market estimated at more than $30 billion in 2004.26 An article in the Winter 2004 issue of the FDIC's Supervisory Insights, "Linking International Remittance Flows to Financial Services: Tapping the Latino Immigrant Market," by Michael Frias, explores how recent demographic shifts will continue to influence banks' strategies for tapping new markets and discusses the implications of the swift growth and significant size of the Latino market for the U.S. banking Industry. Both large and small banks are capitalizing on remittance flows as a means of bringing "unbanked" immigrants into the banking system.

Increasing numbers, rising incomes, and a comparatively young population suggest that Hispanics will become a major consumer of financial services in the years ahead. Greater consumer participation by Hispanics in mainstream financial markets can improve their ability to build assets, create wealth, and promote economic stability and vitality in their communities. By providing needed financial services to this growing market, banks will find new and welcome sources of revenue. But this market is still in its infancy. As it continues to mature, large banks and community banks alike will find new opportunities to meet the demands of the Hispanic marketplace by customizing their products to its unique needs.

Jeffrey A. Ayres, Senior Financial Analyst
Stephen L. Kiser, Regional Economist
Adrian R. Sanchez, Regional Economist

1 CMGP Hispano, "U.S. Retail Banking and the Hispanic Market Growth Engine," white paper, March 1, 2004,

2 "Latinos Become Key Market for Financial-Service Firms," Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2003.

3 "Banks Out to Attract Hispanics: New Immigrants Draw Attention," Houston Chronicle, January 16, 2003.

4 "Big Banks Angling for More Minority Depositors," American Banker, January 30, 2003. Investment products include mutual funds, direct securities investments, cash-value life insurance, annuities, and retirement accounts.

5 Federal Reserve Board, 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances, as cited in CMGP Hispano's "U.S. Retail Banking" (see note 1).

6 Ibid.

7 U.S. Census Bureau, "State Population Estimates by Race Alone and Hispanic or Latino Origin: July 1, 2002," table 3, September 18, 2003,

8 Audrey Singer, "The Rise of New Immigrant Gateways," The Brookings Institution, Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, The Living Cities Census Series, February 2004,

9 Steven A. Camarota and John Keeley, "The New Ellis Islands: Examining Non-Traditional Areas of Immigrant Settlement in the 1990s," Center for Immigration Studies, September 2001,

10 Data from U.S. 2000 Decennial Census.

11 Roberto Suro, "Counting the 'Other Hispanics': How Many Columbians, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Guatemalans and Salvadorans Are There in the United States?" Pew Hispanic Center, May 9, 2002,

12 U.S. Census Bureau, "Census Bureau Projects Tripling of Hispanic and Asian Populations in 50 years; Non-Hispanic Whites May Drop to Half of Total Population," news release, March 18, 2004,

13 "U.S. Immigration and Economic Growth: Putting Policy on Hold," Southwest Economy 6 (November/December 2003).

14 Ibid.

15 A maquiladora is a factory located in a Mexican border town that imports materials and equipment on a duty- and tariff-free basis for assembly or manufacturing.

16 Jeffrey M. Humphreys, "The Multicultural Economy 2003: America's Minority Buying Power," Georgia Business and Economic Conditions 63, no. 2 (Second Quarter 2003), Selig Center for Economic Growth, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia,

17 Energy Information Administration, "Mexico," Country Analysis Briefs, March 2004,

18 Jeffrey M. Humphreys, "The Multicultural Economy 2004: America's Minority Buying Power," Georgia Business and Economic Conditions 64, no. 3 (Third Quarter 2004), Selig Center for Economic Growth, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia,

19 U.S. Department of Labor, "Labor Force," Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Winter 2003-04,

20 Rakesh Kochhar, "Latino Labor Report, First Quarter, 2004: Wage Growth Lags Gains in Employment," Pew Hispanic Center, June 2004,

21 Strategy Research Corporation, "2002 U.S. Hispanic Market Report," 2002, as cited in CMGP Hispano's "U.S. Retail Banking" (see note 1).

22 Mollyann Brodie et al., "2002 National Survey of Latinos," Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation, December 2002,

23 Roberto Suro and Jeffrey S. Passel, "The Rise of the Second Generation: Changing Patterns in Hispanic Population Growth," Pew Hispanic Center, October 2003,

24 "The Latino Middle Class: Myth, Reality and Potential," Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, February 2001.

25 U.S. Census Bureau via Haver Analytics.

26 Manuel Orozco, "Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean: Issues and Perspectives on Development," Organization of American States (report commissioned by the Summits of the Americas Secretariat), July 14, 2004,

Last Updated 12/07/2004

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