What are the special financial services needs of immigrants in New York City? The Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) published research that addresses this question. The Immigrant Financial Services Study focuses on first-generation Chinese, Ecuadorian, and Mexican immigrant groups.
The 73-page study, commissioned by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (published November 2013 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Commissioner Jonathan Mintz), is “one of the first field research initiatives in New York City that looks at immigrants’ financial needs.” This important study discusses the methodology used, the analysis of the consumer demand side and current financial use, and the opportunities and challenges of serving immigrants.
The research supports previous literature on the barriers to immigrants’ participation in formal financial services such as documentation status, language, lack of trust in or understanding of the American financial system, and cultural and educational experience. The study finds that fees, credit requirements, and minimum balance requirements are major common deterrents to bank access. Yet, the study also finds that immigrants in the three groups are saving regardless of income level.
The hope is that “this study’s findings inform programming, product development, and outreach to direct immigrants to safe, affordable, and appropriate products and services to save money, gain credit, and build assets.”