Friday, December 5, 2014

Why Don't Mexicans Invest? 4 Hidden Truths for Businesses Courting Latinos

Why don't Mexicans invest?  This is a billion dollar question for U.S. companies.  There'd be a whole bunch of champagne drinking if investment enterprises could somehow figure out how to get into the Mexican-American pocketbook consistently.  Just check out the visuals below:

To say that all Mexicans/Mexican-Americans don't invest would be false.  I'm Mexican/Mexican-American and I invest!  Still, many of my people don't.  I wish they would.  Perhaps then things on a societal level could be different.

My goal is to inspire all of my readers to invest so that they have a more secure future.  I'd like more Mexican-Americans to pay attention of course and convince themselves that they too can take part in this "American" experience.  However, I realize that I am just one person.  So, having as much assistance as possible, recruiting allies of all backgrounds, would be a huge benefit for "the cause," so to speak.  Here are four reasons (in no particular order) why Mexican/Mexican-Americans don't invest and some possible solutions for each one:

The future does not belong to us.  It belongs to God. 

For Protestants, one of the key elements of an individual's path toward economic prosperity in America is the notion of self-reliance and diligent personal effort.  Most Mexicans are Catholic.  I was raised Catholic, though today I don't practice any religion.  I can't speak for Mexicans of other faiths, but for Catholic Mexicans there is a very deep-seated expression our parents and grandparents often use to "excuse" themselves from any future endeavor.  It is: Si Dios quiere.  The literal translation is: If God wants.  However, it's actual meaning is more like: If God permits.  This says a lot, doesn't it?  What is investing if not a vote of confidence about the future and one's future in relation to "expected" outcomes?  For Mexican-Americans with deep ties to Catholicism, one's future is in the hands of God, so why prepare or plan for it?  Indeed, as a child, any time I heard this saying at the end of a sentence (a conditional statement) my mother or father uttered, I knew the request was dead in the water.  For example: "Mom, can we go to Disneyland?"  Parental Response: "El año que viene, si Dios quiere."   What are solutions to counter this deeply ingrained belief for businesses who want to court the Mexican-American?  Consider working with Church leaders.  Many of them sermonize about community issues such as drug use, violence, and education.  Why not include a sermon on the value of investing?  For example:  "God wants you to live a long and productive life.  God doesn't want you to burden your children with bills when you leave this world.  God wants you to be able to take care of yourself when you can no longer work...therefore, doing a little investing..."  You get the point.

Money is the root of all evil.

For Mexican-Americans with ties to Mexico, having money has never been associated with "good," per se.  In Mexico, people with some money are congratulated.  People with too much money are questioned (not openly).  If a person in Mexico has money to burn, they're either in cahoots with the Cartels or worse, with corrupt politicians.  Have these two factions ever done "good" for the people of Mexico?  No, they've scarred the country for generations to come.  Is it reality?  No, of course not.  There are plenty of law-abiding wealthy people in Mexico who are also philanthropic.  Nonetheless, perception is what dictates behavior.  The masses do not see how all wealthy Mexicans have made their fortunes, so they speculate instead.  Also remember that people with money have power.  And how has power been wielded in the home country?  Enough said.  The problem for investment companies in the U.S. then becomes how to cast money in a positive limelight.  You start by showing them how money can be used to do good, i.e., to help others.  Do you have a go-to charity or foundation?  Is it visible on your website?  Do you make it a point to blog about the good work your company is doing, and not just about the benefits of investing with your company?  Do you invite investors to donate to your go-to charity or fund raise for a particular cause?  No?  Then money has no meaning!  You are in essence an organization that doesn't stand for anything, and both Latinos and Millennials will not want to do business with you.

We don't trust Whites.

Do you have anyone in your organization that has taken a course in Mexican-American/Latino studies?  Ask them how the typical Mexican-American feels about the historical treatment of Chicanos, Mexicans, Mex-Americans (by Whites) in the U.S.  Do you have Mexican-Americans that work for you?  Ask them if they or someone they are related to has ever experienced racism.  Or if they have ever been undeservedly harassed by the police?  Personally, I can't inspire minorities to invest with CCM blog if every other month their attention is focused on social media by a Mike Brown or an Eric Garner situation.  And this is just what's pumped up by news outlets.  In Los Angeles and Santa Ana there are plenty of cases where Mexican-Americans have been wrongly accused, convicted, murdered (by police), and so on.  Not excusing people who break the law, as they deserve punishment, but simply stated...Racism is bad for business.  What can companies do?  For crying out-loud stop having all White boards or management teams.  Yes, we notice!  You can't find qualified candidates?  Invite people of color in other professions (Professors, successful businessmen(women) and entrepreneurs to be, "Advisors."  Make sure you put their faces in key pages on your website.  Make your About page more "colorful."  Build trust with minorities by partnering with companies owned by people of color.  Let them vouch for you!  Look at the above Census Bureau projections.  Do you want in on that or not?  2015 is only a few weeks away = 68 Million Hispanics.

We're not that great at investing.  Probably even worse than most Americans.  But we do make great entrepreneurs!

Indians, Chinese, other Asians...not to stereotype, but many of them have a cultural tradition of both investing and entrepreneurship.  Mexican immigrants and their children have success in entrepreneurship more so than investing.  We know food (restaurants and food products), retail (clothing shops), maintenance (gardening and cleaning services), infrastructure (construction companies), but lack skills in the major wealth producing sector: tech.  Similarly, though we can make plenty of money as professionals or business owners, we often do not know, for lack of financial literacy, how to invest it.  What can companies do to recruit more Mexican entrepreneurs and professionals to their investment opportunities?  Make sure you offer investor education on your site.  Indeed, many companies already do this, educate investors about their investment product or service.  Is any of it in Spanish?  Why not?  For companies that do crowdfunding and where the minimum point of entry ($) is doable financially for most people, it may behoove you to do some of your investor meetings/gatherings in a separate room for Spanish speakers.  Hire an interpreter that can understand your business, its model, and has sales experience.  I'm available!

Okay, whoever you are, I expect that in return for these insights, you will go back out there and re-evaluate how you interact with Mexicans from a business standpoint.  If you understand the impact of these 4 hidden truths, you might just be able to surpass other entities for Mexican-American feria (slang for "dough" or "bread," i.e., money).  If you claim to provide access to special services for the "little-guy," make sure you're not just picturing a white man or an Asian.  Latinos and Blacks are "little-guys" too.  Thanks for reading!  And good luck!


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