For the banking industry, tapping the Latino market seems to be like dealing with the proverbial 800-pound gorilla: many ignore it, the others don't know how to approach it. Time to pay attention, though. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that minorities will outnumber whites in the U.S. by 2042. Hispanics are the largest single minority, comprising 15 percent of the population now, but a predicted 30 percent or 132 million by 2050.

First step: lose the dated geographic misconceptions. Many believe Hispanic populations are concentrated in urban areas and in states like California, Texas, Florida, Arizona and New Mexico, says William McCracken, CEO of SYNERGISTIC Research Corp., but that's no longer the case. Between 2000 and 2006, the state where the Hispanic population grew the most from a percentage standpoint is Arkansas. During the same period, the Midwest's total population grew three percent, but Hispanic growth was 26 percent. In the Northeast the population grew by two percent; Hispanic growth was 15 percent. "Every banker in the U.S., to a great degree, has to face the issue of marketing to Hispanics," McCracken says. "It's no longer the guys in Florida and California's problem or challenge; it's everyone's challenge."

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