INVESTMENT LITERATURE AVAILABLE IN LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH
State Street Research has been watching the numbers. And, if what the experts say comes true, by the year 2050 today's ethnic minorities may become tomorrow's majority. From a fund family's point of view, preparing for changes like that means having investment literature available in languages other than English.
Currently, two of the fastest growing segments of the U.S population are the Spanish and Chinese. Knowing that, State Street Research has just launched an educational and investment program specifically aimed at Spanish and Chinese-speaking Americans.
"Given the way the population is changing, it wasn't a question of if we would start an educational program, but when, " says Joan Miller, senior vice president at State Street Research.
Look at the demographics for both Hispanic-Americans and Chinese-Americans and it's easy to see why State Street Research is interested in making sure people from both cultures learn about investing. For openers, by the year 2010, Hispanics will make up 14 percent of the U.S. population. That's up about 2 percent from where it stands currently, according to research from State Street Research.
Then there are things like age, income and desire. Hispanics represent a youthful market as their median age is 26. That youth means there's plenty of time for them to invest.
Their average household incomes have also increased 38 percent from 1990 - 1998. Plus, buying power is expected to double by 2010. And finally, most Hispanics like the idea of investing for financial security even though many feel they need to better invest their money.
As for language barriers, research shows that 70 percent of Hispanics speak Spanish at home, and, Spanish language materials and advertising are 45 percent more persuasive than those in English.
While Chinese-Americans don't represent as great a number in terms of population, addressing them in their native language could pay-off too as 82.9 percent of them speak Chinese at home.
As far as income goes, the Chinese have a higher average household and per capita income than represented by the U.S average; have a total annual purchasing power of approximately $20 billion per year; and save more than the average American. They also like being educated---over 40 percent have college degrees.
What's attractive about State Street Research's program is that it's diversified. Educational material is available in both languages on subjects including understanding mutual funds, investing for college, investing for retirement and learning about State Street Research.
On the mutual fund front, bilingual prospectuses are available on a number of different funds. Three, however, that have bilingual prospectuses translated into both Spanish and Chinese include State Street Research's Investment Trust, Managed Assets and Emerging Growth fund.
There's also a dedicated toll-free number ( 888-638-3193) where Chinese and Spanish-speaking folks will be able to talk with someone in-language about their investing needs. And, web sites. Online information in Chinese will be available on June 20. The web address for that data is www.ssrfunds.com/chinese. Spanish information will be available online on July 1. That web address is: www.ssrfunds.com/spanish.
When putting the program together, one of the first challenges Miller said she was faced with is that literal translation of much of the fund family's material into Chinese or Spanish didn't work. "State Street Research means nothing in Chinese, " she says. "So, the first thing you need to understand is know what you don't know and work with experts that do."
Whether translating prospectuses or trying to understand the jargon of the mutual fund world, working with those who can help you understand fund investing always makes good sense.
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