Monday, December 19, 2005

SunTrust, Bank of America, Wachovia, First Tennessee seek Hispanic trust, and business

The Tennessean reports in this article that banks in Nashville are reaching out to the Hispanic population as a client base with efforts like SunTrust's financial classes for Spanish speakers:

"Such classes are among ways that Midstate banks are warming up to the Hispanic community as its growth in population and incomes makes it more attractive. Among the bank's goals are to reduce language barriers and wipe away distrust among immigrants from countries such as Mexico where banks aren't as stable as in the United States."

"Like many banks, SunTrust now accepts cards issued by Mexican consulates as one form of identification for opening new accounts."

"Two months ago, Bank of America stopped charging its accountholders to send money to Mexico, a key service since Mexicans send $21 billion home each year from throughout the United States."

"Last month, Wachovia Bank began offering its clients the option of receiving their monthly statements in Spanish."

"Some lenders, such as Southeast Financial Federal Credit Union, also use payment records for rent and utilities as a way to check credit worthiness before making mortgage loans to Hispanics who don't have much of a credit history."

"First Tennessee Bank, for instance, has bilingual employees in areas with a concentration of Hispanic residents. It also partners with nonprofit groups to teach home-buying courses."

"'We look at it as a rapidly growing market, but as one that's still a very small percentage of the overall market in Tennessee,' said Mike Edwards, Nashville region president for the Memphis bank. 'It's a market we continue to evaluate what out future plans and actions should be — it's one that has our attention.'"

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