Insuring the Latino Legacy
Story By: Kristian Jaime
For the estimated 56.6 million Latinos in the United States, attaining the American dream extends beyond family roots. It means planning for the financial future of the largest minority block in the country.
Financial planning, including the insurance market, is evolving to a much more culturally inclusive sales approach. As Hispanic buying power totaled $1.7 trillion in 2017, firms not investing in cultural competency are turning their back on lucrative profit margins.
Lizzie Dipp Metzger, a financial advisor for Eagle Strategies LLC, an insurance agent for New York Life Insurance Company and a registered representative of NYLIFE Securities LLC, is at the forefront of this emerging market sector.
Broaching the subject of responsible and adequate financial planning with the Hispanic community is equal parts sales pitch and family meeting. El Paso, her home base, offers no shortage of practice with either. It also does not hurt that the Sun City is also her hometown.
“I work with business owners, physicians, and executives to help them crystallize their personal and business goals and create a long-term plan to achieve those goals,” Metzger said.
“I meet a lot of clients who are uncomfortable speaking about their finances. It seems that more and more people don’t discuss their finances at home, making it even more uncomfortable of a subject.”
A fascination with solving problems that started with basic jigsaw puzzles as a kid soon grew too complex math problems in school. Real world applications came by way of learning personal finance, taxes and real estate behind her family’s businesses. If her childhood was not the perfect primer for a life in commerce, her Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Pomona College and Master’s Degree in Financial Services from American College was.
Once back in El Paso, starting the conversation about financial literacy was not always easy. Confronting the fear and sometimes embarrassment on behalf of clients when discussing their personal finances began with getting honest about debt.
In a culture often reluctant to talk about money, Metzger started with asking a simple question. What do you want to achieve with your income?
“Financial illiteracy is not only a serious issue with Latinos, it is an epidemic among all communities,” Metzger explained. “Parents need to start talking with their kids, who are the future leaders of our communities, about bills, debt, income, and how to save for the problems will continue.”
As a married mother of three, that lesson is all too poignant. It is also a vital chance to practice what she preaches. Doing so potentially reverses a negative financial trend in the Latino community.
According to LIMRA, a worldwide research company for the life insurance industry, 85 percent of people agree that life insurance is important. Yet only 44 percent of households have it—an all-time low. Even more troubling, 70 percent of households with children under the age of 18 would have trouble meeting everyday expenses if one of the breadwinners passes away.
These statistics bear out something far more pervasive than lack of financial acumen. They highlight potentially devastating circumstances in lieu of not taking life insurance polices to heart.
“As in other cultures, Latinos may distrust the value of life insurance and feel reluctant to purchase it,” Metzger continued. “As a Latina agent, I can speak to them about their concerns and educate them about how life insurance can protect their assets and mitigate their financial fears.”
New York Life Insurance Company is among those already banking on cultural competency as a wave of the financial future—especially in heavily Hispanic markets like El Paso.
The reality of tight-knit Hispanic families may seem cliché, but it is also the truth. So any authentic discussion about a solid financial future incorporates not just parents, but children and other relatives. According to Metzger, understanding that is the basis of adequate life insurance coverage.
Another component of the Hispanic culture is the uptick of entrepreneurship across the nation. According to Stanford University, the five-year average growth rate in the number of Latino firms has remained at double or triple that of the national average for the past fifteen years. For Metzger and New York Life Insurance Company, that opens the door for plans of succession and estate challenges.
“We build relationships with clients knowing that their goals and plans change over time, and that it’s our job to be there as time passes and life events arise,” Metzger explained. “We have been doing so for over 175 years. New York Life is in the business of being there for people for the long-term, and this is reflected in how agents like me approach our work.”
As with any industry, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. When looking for a financial advisor, Metzger suggests asking your friends and family for recommendations. But one size does not fit all in terms of goals and timelines. Among the questions one should ask includes: How do your services work? How are you compensated? Do you charge planning fees? What is the process that you use for planning? How do you review my performance?
Working with a financial adviser is not a temporary partnership.
As Metzger posits, an advisor that has your financial interest at heart knows that augmenting benchmarks and adjusting coverage for a life insurance policy is all part of the relationship. Under the best circumstances, an affective financial advisor will routinely examine the overall strategy and coverage needs.
“A good advisor will work with you to come up with a plan and will be with you for years to guide you through the twists and turns of life,” said Metzger. “A good advisor builds trust over time by continually reviewing the plan as life changes. They’ll listen your questions and concerns and show accountability and customer service.”
For many, the intricacies of an investment portfolio can be daunting. Through the eyes of a financial professional, risk management boils down to the optimal mix of short-term and long-term investments and insurance. While it may be easy to get mired in dollars and cents, the real motivation behind such meticulous planning is still family.
The principles of legacy and security supersede any single culture or ethnicity. Likewise, the benefits of prudent planning are not singular to any individual client. For Metzger and New York Life Insurance Company, that is why the mission has never been clearer to reach out to those feeling ill-equipped to discuss their financial future.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to me to know a client is able to enjoy their life and their time with loved ones without worrying about running out of money or becoming a financial burden,” concluded Metzger.