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Meeting Latino customers where they are: A conversation with Lizzy Diaz-Ortiz

People of Latino descent represent 18 per cent of the population and 17 per cent of the workforce in the U.S. – they are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the nation. In large cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, Latinos make up 30-50 per cent of the population. They have almost $2 trillion in annual spending power. The median age of a Latino person in the U.S. is 29 years old (as compared to the median age of 40 for the rest of the U.S. population).  

It is Lizzy Diaz-Ortiz’s job to know these facts and to understand the depth of diversity within the community’s consumer relationships. Two months ago, she was appointed to a newly created role of Senior Manager, Latino Segment in U.S. Personal & Business Banking (P&BB), where she works with colleagues across the bank to harness BMO’s cultural intelligence and community partnerships to grow financial progress for Latino people.   

Lizzy was born in Fort McClellan, Alabama, to Puerto Rican parents. She grew up in a military family and has lived all over the world. She remembers always working to adapt in spaces—like school—where she and her brother were often the only Latino children. For Lizzy, it was that feeling of “otherness” she keeps at the forefront of how she lives today, never missing an opportunity to create a connection.   

“It is exciting to work with partners in U.S P&BB — Latino professionals across the bank who do the day-to-day work of community outreach to meet Latino customers where they are with financial wellness conversations. Our BMO colleagues start conversations from a shared experience with cultural context about retirement planning, home ownership, and financial education. We are growing relationships for the long term, built on trust,”

​​​​​​​- Lizzy Diaz-Ortiz, Senior Manager, Latino Segment in U.S. Personal & Business Banking

Lizzy notes these conversations about financial needs and education are as diverse as the Latino community. In the U.S., Latino people represent a high percentage of homeowners, yet we know Latinos are vastly underserved in planning for how those assets are passed generationally within families. The same is true about retirement planning.  Whereas some consumer segments have had generational experience with financial planning needs, many Latino banking customers have not grown up within that generational knowledge. 

This new focus on the Latino consumer segment builds important strategic bridges with the existing Black & Latinx Small Business Program team and the Underserved Segment team to address the vast population shared between those two customer groups. A seamless outreach and engagement approach positions us to bring the best of BMO’s barrier-breaking products, services, and banking professionals to the Latino community. And as importantly, our understanding of the diverse needs of the community addresses misconceptions that all Latinos are underserved, which none of the demographic data supports. Latino people are building wealth through home ownership and entrepreneurship — areas BMO is focused on supporting and growing.  

Lizzy believes BMO’s culture and inclusion strategy positions us to create financial progress for Latino consumers of all backgrounds. It is the reason she is most excited about BMO’s expanded outreach moving forward.   

She comes to this new role with 19 years of a global financial services background, including living in Mexico City where she worked on the integration of local teams following the acquisition by a major global bank.    

In the next 30 years, a Pew research study indicates the U.S. Latino population will reach 106 million – that’s double what it is today. That forecasted growth represents a population with distinct needs for banking products and advisors to establish credit, save for homes, pay for college, start businesses, build wealth and plan for retirement. Lizzy believes BMO’s Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, and the diversity of our teams in major markets position us to resonate authentically and meaningfully.

September 15-October 31 is Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. and Latin-American Heritage Month in Canada. 

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