GfK NOP Hispanic American Study Uncovers Financial Services Satisfaction Gap

Lack of Spanish Language Communications Cited as Key Factor

New York, May 24, 2005—GfK NOP (formerly NOP World) today announced results of its new Hispanic OmniTel® Financial Services Study which found only 35% of Hispanic Americans "very satisfied" with "where they have their money today", well below the 50% level of satisfaction found among Americans in general.

The survey was conducted by telephone among a nationally representative sample of 500 Hispanic Americans, who are now the largest minority market in the United States.

Language Barrier a Primary Challenge

A lack of Spanish language communication from financial services companies is a key factor in lower satisfaction levels among Hispanics. Nearly two-thirds of Hispanic Americans say financial services companies communicate in Spanish less often than they would like. At the same time, more than half say it's very important that financial companies communicate in Spanish through their representatives and agents (62%), financial statements (58%), toll-free numbers (58%), and brochures (55%).

Obstacles Beyond the Language Barrier Also Cited

In the investments arena, Hispanic Americans report many other obstacles beyond the language barrier. The leading problem reported as a "major obstacle" by just over half (51%) of Hispanic Americans was not having enough money to invest, a slightly higher percent than for Americans in general (45%).

In addition, 42% of Hispanic Americans point to a lack of knowledge as a major obstacle (vs. 23% of Americans in general), 41% cite not knowing whom to trust with one's money (vs. 31% of the general population), 39% report concern over where to get trustworthy advice (vs. 29%), and 33% cite confusion about whom to contact (vs. 18%).

"The study's findings suggest that Hispanic Americans just aren't getting the information they need in a form that they can use it, and the result is confusion, uncertainty, and low levels of trust," said Nick Iadicicco, Senior Vice President of GfK Financial, who designed the poll. "Financial services companies need to do a better job of reaching out to and communicating with this market, which is projected to grow rapidly over the next several years—much faster than the rest of the US population."

While the study found that Hispanics are less likely to own a wide range of financial services products than other Americans, half reported having savings and checking accounts, 24% said they have universal life insurance, and 13% own mutual funds outside of employer-sponsored plans. Another obstacle uncovered is that only 39% have retirement savings plans available at work, well below the 64% of other Americans. When these plans are available, participation rates for Hispanic Americans are lower, at 53% compared to 71% of the general population.

"While Hispanic Americans have fewer assets than average, we believe that's only partly to blame for low ownership levels for financial products and services," adds Iadicicco. "Lower levels of knowledge, confidence and trust are all important factors, as well, and these need to be addressed more proactively by banks, insurers and investment companies."

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