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Ask the Expert: How Are Multicultural Communities Building Business?

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Today’s “Ask the Expert: column features Glenda Gabriel, the Neighborhood Lending Executive for Bank of America.

Q: As our nation’s multicultural population continues to grow, what role do multicultural communities play when it comes to building business?

A: Access to education and technology has improved for all consumers and that has led to increased wealth and income growth among multicultural groups. For instance, recent census bureau studies show that Asian American households have the highest median income level of any racial and ethnic segment in the U.S. All the major multicultural groups in the country represent tremendous financial engines for growth. In fact, the buying power of Asian Americans is forecast to reach more than $1 trillion by 2017, $1.3 trillion for African Americans and $1.7 trillion for Hispanic Americans.

To reach and serve multicultural clients successfully, we need to understand the sophistication of these consumers, their values, culture and the power of diversity. By this, I mean working to build a diverse staff so you can strengthen your abilities and expand market reach. A team that speaks different languages and has different backgrounds can develop stronger relationships with multicultural communities. Building trust is enhanced through shared language and cultural backgrounds.

Encourage your employees to join and participate in multicultural organizations to improve connections within your community and build relationships. The concept is simple: Build your presence to build your business. The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), for example, has 20,000 members in 48 states and 50 affiliate chapters across the nation. The Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) is celebrating its 10-year anniversary serving Asian American communities, while the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), founded in 1947, is the oldest multicultural trade organization. These organizations help real estate professionals form lasting relationships and community connections.

At Bank of America, we want to work with you to ensure that your multicultural clients are getting the homebuyer education, tools, resources and home loan right for them. We have established programs, such as Connect to Own®, an alliance for homeownership with hundreds of non-profit homebuyer education providers to deliver pre-purchase education and training for first-time homebuyers. Across our Connect to Own network, in 37 states, our partners provide education and counseling services in 26 languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin. Additionally, 38 percent of Bank of America’s home loans sales force come from diverse backgrounds and work with customers that do not speak English as a first language.

Our goal is to connect our mutual multicultural clients with the tools and resources to help them stay organized and prepare for the home-buying process. The Bank of America Home Loan Guide and Home Loan Planner are two such tools. As we come to recognize and embrace the changes in our nation’s population, we will be best-suited to grow our client base and make the connections that better serve today’s customers.

For more information, visit www.bankofamerica.com.

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