Serving Increasingly Diverse Communities

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PremierBank’s Bilingual Initiatives Committee helps bank serve Hispanic community

By Kathleen Rolfs

Between 2000 and 2015, the Hispanic population in Wisconsin doubled in size with an increase of 95%, according to a demographic summary conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. This was the most rapid population increase of any of Wisconsin’s various racial groups (White, Black/African American, American Indian, and Hispanic).

During this span of time, Wisconsin’s overall population increased by roughly 400,000 residents, with Hispanics making up 46% of this increase. With Hispanics being the fastest growing minority population in Wisconsin, it is important that community banks thoughtfully consider how they are best meeting the financial needs of this influential consumer base.

Although individual desires and product requirements are as diverse for the Hispanic community as any other demographic, one way that PremierBank is successfully serving our Hispanic friends and neighbors is through our unique Bilingual Initiatives Committee. This group is comprised of several bilingual bankers along with marketing and retail banking officers. The goals of the committee include identifying opportunities that exist within our communities for strategic community partnerships, and collaborative education within our organization to ensure all our bankers are equipped to understand and anticipate the needs of the rapidly growing, ethnically diverse Hispanic community.

Bilingual Bankers Share Their Heritage

At a minimum, having bankers on staff who speak the same native language of those who live and work in our communities is one of the most obvious ways that we can reduce or eliminate language barriers with our Hispanic customers and successfully deliver the most appropriate financial solutions to them.

Guided by our Bilingual Initiatives Committee, our bilingual bankers help provide education within our organization about the Hispanic community. Peer-to-peer learning is a powerful tool that helps break through biases and promulgates understanding. As such, we have found that giving our bilingual bankers many opportunities throughout the year to share their heritage with their colleagues encourages a much deeper understanding of our local Hispanic population, while simultaneously building community within our own organization.

During last year’s Hispanic Heritage month, PremierBank treated all employees to traditional pan dulce or “sweet bread” served fresh from a local Mexican baker. These were personally delivered by members who serve on the Bilingual Initiative Committee, some of whom were dressed in traditional Mexican apparel, with an explanation of the history of these tasty treats! Inexpensive activities encourage understanding and respect among a diverse workforce, while providing education about this important segment of banking prospects and customers.

Bilingual Banking Community Outreach

Whether through financial contributions, sponsoring a resource fair that targets the Hispanic community, or creating our own event that caters to the Hispanic community, PremierBank’s Bilingual Initiative Committee is intentional in the quest to find new events to support within our footprint area.

In September 2022, a “Hispanic Heritage Celebration” is being planned at one of our banking locations complete with food trucks, traditional Central and South American dancers, and a lively mariachi band. After working with the local convention and visitor’s bureau and receiving advice from the city parks and recreation department, our Bilingual Initiatives Committee has found enthusiastic community support in our efforts to plan this upcoming community event that will celebrate Hispanic customs, cuisine, and heritage.

Building Long-Term Relationships

As marketers, we know that the Hispanic segment is an incredibly valuable consumer group. With an annual purchasing power of over $1.5 trillion, this powerhouse community is more likely to start a new business than any other demographic and it accounts for a larger percentage of home purchases than ever before, according to an article published by Forbes. However, we cannot simply make token efforts to attract their business.

To reach this audience, cater to their actual needs, and stand out from our competitors, banks need to establish an authentic connection in an honest and respectful way. Our Bilingual Initiatives Committee is making a difference at PremierBank by helping us to build authentic, meaningful relationships both inside and outside of our bank. Because of this, the business relationships we have formed with our Hispanic customers and community partners are based on understanding and respect and will endure long into the future.

Rolfs, vice president – director of marketing at PremierBank in Fort Atkinson, is a member of the 2022–2023 WBA Marketing Committee.