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Financial Fitness Measured Among New York City Hispanics


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Bank of America Survey Finds Over One-Third of Hispanic New Yorkers Are Currently Not Utilizing Any Banking Services

New York, June 21, 2005 - Although New York City (NYC) Hispanics live in the financial capital of the world and comprise twenty-one percent of the city’s population, findings from a recent Bank of America survey report that they could benefit from utilizing a greater array of banking products and services. The proprietary survey found that at least one in three Hispanics in NYC (34%) have not established a relationship with a mainstream bank, potentially limiting their access to innovative financial solutions.

Bank of America recently conducted a similar study among New Yorkers overall as part of the bank’s ongoing efforts to better understand the financial strength of consumers in the metropolitan area and to provide solutions that meet their needs. The survey confirms that Hispanics, like most New Yorkers, can benefit from professional financial advice and services. Bank of America reassures New Yorkers and Nuyorquinos (Hispanic New Yorkers) alike that the way to become more financially fit is only a few simple steps away.

One of every three Hispanics in New York City may feel more financially savvy than the average New Yorker (34%), but over one-half (52%) of these New Yorkers do not have a checking account. Additionally, forty-four percent of those Hispanics who do not have a checking account feel that they do not need one. Findings mirror the national landscape which reports that nearly fifty percent of U.S. Hispanics remain unbanked. National Hispanic advocacy organizations and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation cite a lack of financial education or a fear of financial institutions based on personal experiences from their country of origin as the primary reasons for not establishing a banking relationship.

Simply opening up a checking account can save the average Nuyorquino about $200 a year. Having a checking account avoids expensive check-cashing and money order fees, which typically range between $2 and $4 per transaction. This could free up enough money to cover one month worth of groceries and a monthly metro pass.

According to Marcos Rosenberg, senior vice president and multicultural marketing executive at Bank of America, “Findings from our survey confirm the need for Hispanic New Yorkers to become more financially fit, beginning with establishing a banking relationship.” Rosenberg adds, “It is important for them to understand that opening a checking account can be the first step to helping them achieve their long-term financial goals and will ensure their deposits are safe.”

Indeed, over one-third (34%) of New York Hispanics agree that their most important long-term financial goal is to purchase a home. Unfortunately, not many Nuyorquinos are on track to achieving this goal, nor have they established a long-term strategy for saving. Less than one-third (31%) have a savings account and an astonishing ninety-three (93%) percent have no sort of retirement fund or 401(k) plan. Not only are Hispanics not prepared for any form of retirement, but almost one-third (32%) would not be able to survive a financial emergency - having less than one month worth of expenses set aside.

“We have found that many Hispanics keep their assets in their homes rather than utilizing the services banks offer,” said banking center manager Michelle Rivera. “Bank of America provides in-language tools to help all individuals become more financially fit, which is instrumental to living a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress and enhancing the quality of your life.”

(Save Your Pennies and the Dollars Will Come) Guarda los centavos y los pesos llegaran

Other interesting findings include:

* One of every three New York Hispanics would rather wait for a Gypsy or livery cab than take a yellow cab.
* Fifty-two percent of New Yorker Hispanics feel that they spend too much money on clothes.
* Despite the dearth of retirement plans among the Hispanic community in New York, one in four say saving for retirement is their top priority (24%).

Ways to enhance your financial fitness
Rosenberg offers these tips to help New York Hispanics improve their financial fitness.

1. Ask for help. Bank of America bilingual associates can help with financial planning to get you on track to reaching your financial goals. Despite the stress many feel when facing their finances, there is no reason to go it alone.

2. Try keeping track of your everyday spending. Create a budget. Buy a small, pocketsize notebook, and jot down everything you spend for a week. Then use that information to create a budget.

3. Open a checking account. Not only is it the first step to establishing a long-term, fruitful banking relationship, but you will also avoid those check-cashing and money order fees that can take you seriously off track when it comes to meeting your long-term financial goals.

4. Dreaming about a new home? Open a savings account. Native Spanish-speakers are three times as likely to keep the little extra money they can save in their home - putting them one home fire or burglary away from financial ruin. Saving as little as $25 a month can add up over time.

5. Establish credit the smart way. Start off with a secured credit card that you can use to make small purchases and pay off every month. This will help you establish a credit history, the first step to taking out a loan for college or a home.

6. Ask for help. We’re right back where we started because good advice is worth repeating.

Please contact Daisy Cabrera at 718-937-7379 for more information on the survey and money-saving tips, or to schedule an interview.

Methodological Notes
The Bank of America New York Hispanic Financial Fitness Survey was conducted by Kelton Research between May 29 and June 9, 2005 using Random Digit Dialing of both listed and unlisted numbers. Quotas are set on completed interviews by four variables: age, sex, geographic region, and race, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total Hispanic New York City population, 18 years of age and older. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 and 100 that a survey does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.9 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk-management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving 33 million consumer relationships with more than 5,800 retail banking offices, more than 16,700 ATMs and award-winning online banking with more than 13 million active users. Bank of America is the No. 1 overall Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in the United States and the No. 1 SBA lender to minority-owned small businesses. The company serves clients in 150 countries and has relationships with 98 percent of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and 85 percent of the Global Fortune 500. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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