Engaging Hispanic and Latinx Community Members: A Q&A With Gina Riepel
by: BISA Staff, Gina Riepel
Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month celebrates the unique histories, cultures and contributions of these community members. It provides opportunity for all companies, those in bank and insurance securities included, to both celebrate their Hispanic and Latinx staff and consider how they can better engage and support clients with these backgrounds year-round.
Gina Riepel, vice president of strategic partnerships at CUNA Mutual Group, is passionate about securing an equitable future for Hispanic and Latinx community members. At her organization, she approaches client strategy with a DE&I lens, aiming to improve financial wellbeing for all. Below, she shares her insight and approach that others in the bank and insurance securities space could adopt.
When it comes to business strategy, why is engaging underserved communities important?
GR: Ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to build a brighter financial future is at the core of what we do at CUNA Mutual Group. This requires a concerted effort to ensure that access to financial services is increased beyond the most affluent consumers and that there are pathways that provide people from underserved communities the opportunity to pursue careers in the industry. Promoting financial inclusion also helps drive economic growth overall. By providing traditional financial services and advice to those who may have been left behind, we can make it possible for them to build wealth and use that wealth to support their communities, build businesses and invest in education — positively impacting the economy overall.
What steps have you or your organization taken to help improve financial literacy and engage underserved communities?
GR: At CUNA Mutual Group, inclusion is woven into the fabric of our organization and informs our decision making. A specific example would be the creation of our Multicultural Center of Expertise, which researches how to best meet the financial service needs of underserved communities and how to make the financial services industry more inclusive. As part of these efforts, we have partnered with historically Black colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions to create a program that provides internships and recruitment pathways designed to increase the diversity in our ranks and the industry overall.
What is your most impactful piece of advice for a financial advisor or organization looking to expand their support of underserved communities?
GR: Unfortunately, there are still many systemic barriers preventing progress towards diversity in the financial services industry on both the corporate side and the customer side. It is important to understand that the process of making access to financial services more equitable is a long-term commitment and best seen as a lifelong journey. Change won’t be made overnight, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
What changes do you believe should happen in the financial industry to better serve underserved communities?
GR: The wider adoption of technology in the financial services industry has spurred the introduction of new, digital products and services that are more affordable, and thus more accessible than ever before. Continuing to integrate technology into the industry in a responsible way, with the goal of creating an ecosystem that is more accessible to historically underserved communities, is paramount. Additionally, continuing to commit to efforts designed to make the financial services industry more representative of the population as a whole, will be essential to ensure that it better serves all communities.
What is one piece of advice you have for anyone continuing their DE&I understanding?
GR: The process of developing a better DE&I understanding is a lifelong journey of continual learning and evolution, and it looks different for every individual. I would recommend each person work on their DE&I journey in their own time, in a way that is authentic to them.
From a business perspective, is there anything you think companies should consider (with market opportunity in mind) for the Latinx population?
GR: At CUNA Mutual Group, we are committed to working with Hispanic-serving institutions for recruiting efforts through various initiatives. We serve a large population of Hispanic customers and are working toward a future in which our workforce better represents the diversity of our consumer base. In order to continue to serve the Latinx population, businesses need to consider all ways they can strive to meet the changing needs of the marketplace and create a culture of security and learning.
What does CUNA Mutual Group do to celebrate Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month? What ideas do you have for celebrating any awareness months at a corporate level for optimum company-wide exposure?
GR: As an organization, we have been sharing stories on social media that highlight and celebrate staff whose histories, cultures and contributions come from Latinx and Hispanic countries. Our Amig@s (Latinx) Engagement Resource Group (ERG) is also hosting a variety of internal events during Hispanic Heritage Month, including panel discussions, a lunch and learn, a virtual talent show, a virtual dance class led by one of our ERG members and a virtual cooking class with Chef Santana. One way that organizations can celebrate awareness months is to highlight senior leaders with various cultures and backgrounds, because if people can see someone that they relate to holding a senior-level position, they will believe it’s possible for them.
About Gina Riepel
Gina received her undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of
St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and her career spans more than 28 years of financial services
experience in sales, account management and business development. She served as vice
president of national accounts at FS Investments, Pacific Life and AIM/Invesco where she was
responsible for driving annuity, mutual fund and alternative investment sales with registered
advisors and broker dealers. She joined CUNA Mutual Group in 2017.
As Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Gina leads the coordination of all functions that
impact and maximize new and current partnerships in CUNA Mutual’s Advisor Experience
business unit. Her responsibilities include leading and overseeing the efforts of the National
Account Management team for CUNA Mutual Group Annuities, CUNA Mutual Retirement Plan
Services and CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc.
Gina currently sits on the BISA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee after serving as Chair of
the Committee from March 2020 – March 2022.
• Securities Registered with FINRA®
• Holds Series 6, 7, 63 and 65 Registrations and Life and Health Licenses
• Behavioral Finance AdviceTM (BFATM)
• National Social Security AdvisorSM (NSSA®