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Poor Fiscal Literacy May Place the Financial Future of Houston Hispanic Business Owners and Their Families At-Risk


University of Houston/MassMutual Study Reveals Hispanic Entrepreneurs Lack Knowledge of and Confidence in All Aspects of Financial Strategies

(Houston, TX) - Third among all American cities in the number of Hispanic-owned businesses, Houston is one of America’s flashpoints of entrepreneurialism. Yet, Houston Hispanic business owners have limited knowledge about the range of financial products and services available to them. They are unprepared for retirement and are worried about meeting their long-term goals. The fiscal fitness of Spanish-preferred small business owners is in even worse shape. These are just a few of the dramatic findings revealed in a recent study conducted by the University of Houston, C.T. Bauer College of Business.

The study, conducted by MBA students in the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business, was sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), one of the oldest and most prestigious financial services companies in the country, in partnership with the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The study’s findings are a guidepost to MassMutual’s Fiscal Fitness Initiative created to arm Latinos with the information and tools they need to improve their fiscal health.

“The disparity of knowledge about financial services and products, and the corresponding lack of business and personal planning, could affect potentially thousands of business owners and their families,” said Latha Ramchand, UH Bauer College associate dean for programs and administration. “The need for greater financial literacy takes on greater urgency given today’s tough economic climate. Our MBA students and Bauer were glad to participate. Providing expertise and knowledge is one way a business school can connect back to the community.”

A total of 183 Hispanic business owners participated in the study via online or in-person surveys which were completed in November 2008. Business owner respondents skewed male, over 35 years of age, married, and highly educated – 41 percent with post-graduate degrees. Findings were analyzed by company size, language preference, generation, and other variables.

Key findings reveal that local Hispanic business owners:

- Are not confident in their ability to make good financial decisions and lack knowledge about financial products and solutions. Lack of confidence is particularly acute for small business owners, as 50 percent said they “wish they were in more control of their finances.”

- Think finances should be a stronger priority but lack knowledge about financial products and solutions. Large business owners are more knowledgeable than their small business peers. Yet only 43 percent of large business owners indicated that the one product they are most knowledgeable about is employee health insurance.

- Are unprepared to transition their businesses to family members. Approximately 81 percent of the respondents who hope to pass on their business to family do not have a succession plan in place.

- Who prefer to speak Spanish do not use financial services as often as the survey respondents who prefer speaking in English. For example, 31 percent of all respondents have a retirement plan; 69 percent are English speakers compared to only 18 percent of Spanish speakers. Of the 25 percent of the total respondents who have a comprehensive financial plan, 35 percent are Spanish-speakers and 50 percent are English speakers.

“After giving their blood, sweat and tears to establishing their businesses, Latinos should be rewarded with the confidence and tools to help them lay the foundation for a more secure future for themselves, their businesses and their families,” said Chris Mendoza, director of multicultural markets for MassMutual. “We are committed to offering resources that de-mystify financial strategies, beginning in Houston.”

MassMutual’s Fiscal Fitness Initiative includes partnerships with local organizations to host workshops and an integrated communication campaign to provide financial information to Houston Latinos. MassMutual will also develop educational tools and conduct speaking engagements to enlist the leaders from all sectors of the Houston community to help Latinos bridge the gap in fiscal fitness.

As the leading regional advocate for the Hispanic business community, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is an ideal partner to work with MassMutual to help Hispanic business owners and professionals improve their financial health.

“The call to help Hispanics increase their fiscal fitness falls on the collective shoulders of the business community, academia and Hispanic community leaders,” said Dr. Laura G. Murillo, president and chief executive officer for the Chamber. “We cannot afford to allow future generations to be in jeopardy.”


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