At Nasdaq, we are on a mission to make financial education more accessible to drive inclusive growth and prosperity. For Financial Literacy Month, we learn from the members of our diverse employee resource groups about the effect financial literacy has had on both their personal and professional success, the challenges they’ve had to overcome, and the resources they recommend for a more inclusive future. RJ Estrada, director of Paid Social Media and member of the Adelante Leadership Team, talks about the positive impact of financial education on Hispanic youth.
Tell us about your role at Nasdaq.
I work with Nasdaq Listed clients and internal Nasdaq marketing teams to coordinate, create, execute and optimize paid digital marketing campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and beyond.
How would you describe Adelante to a new employee?
Adelante is an organization that celebrates the rich and diverse cultures encompassed by the vast Hispanic community, both in the USA and abroad. The group also serves as an educational vehicle, bringing light to everything from the customs to the cuisines of different Hispanic cultures.
Favorite memory while being a part of the ERG?
I only recently joined Nasdaq and Adelante, but I look forward to attending in-person events and sponsoring career workshops with college and high-school students.
How can one be a good ally to the Latinx community?
Understanding that the Latinx community is far from a monolith. There are over 20 Spanish-speaking countries spanning the globe, each with its unique histories, cultures, colloquialisms, cuisines and dialects. So, while we share the same language, one should be mindful of the differences between backgrounds when referring to the larger “Latinx” community.
What challenges have you seen the Hispanic community face related to financial literacy?
Major challenges which the Hispanic community faces related to financial literacy are a systemic barrier and lack of access to educational resources. Many of those who immigrate to the United States come from nations in Latin America where investing was not a possibility. They pick up and leave everything they know in search of a better life for themselves and their families in a country where they do not speak the language. Upon arriving and thriving in the U.S., this unfamiliarity with investing does not magically disappear– leading to a never-ending cycle of future generations of American-born Hispanics never learning the importance of investing from their parents.
This lack of understanding has real-world implications which affect the community as a whole. A Morningstar report found that more than two-thirds of Hispanic households are not putting anything aside through workplace savings vehicles such as 401(k) plans, and this is largely credited to the lack of understanding of the long-term benefits that they provide. This is just one small part of the problem, since Hispanics, on average, earn less than the average American, so many Hispanics feel that they cannot afford to set money aside for investing. Ideally, through the promotion of financial literacy, Hispanics across the country can realize the benefits that even the smallest contributions can make in the long-term.
Why is financial literacy and financial wellbeing important to you as a member of the Hispanic community?
Financial literacy is the key to unlocking generational wealth and long-term financial well-being. The Hispanic community, due to various socioeconomic and cultural causes, is lagging behind in terms of saving and investing for the future. According to data put out by the St Louis Federal Reserve, Hispanic families’ median wealth was nearly 80% lower than that of White families in 2019. While this is driven by larger economic factors, this trend is further exacerbated by a lack of understanding of the various financial instruments which can help individuals and families set themselves up for long-term financial success. There is a popular saying which, in part, reflects that “Knowledge is Wealth.” In the case of financial literacy, this saying can be applied quite literally. Through the promotion and education of financial topics, terms and investment vehicles, Hispanics in the U.S. can put themselves and their families in a financial position which reflects their hard-work and the pivotal roles they play in their communities.
What resources do you feel can help break the barriers to education on financial literacy for the Hispanic community?
Breaking the barriers to financial literacy begins at adolescence. Teaching Hispanic high-schoolers and college students, especially first-generation college students, about the value in investing can help break the cycle which Hispanic families across the country find themselves in. Many states across the country are already taking on this initiative, with 11 to date having passed legislation requiring that students take a stand-alone personal finance class in order to graduate. Thankfully, many other states are following suit, with 54 personal finance education bills pending in 26 states. These sorts of requirements will be instrumental in the education of Hispanic students around financial topics. Aside from government-mandated education, proliferation of non-profits, whose mission is to teach financial topics to underrepresented groups, will play a key role in the subsequent dissemination of financial literacy throughout the Hispanic community.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.