In the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro, two Latino financial experts are clearing hurdles for their Spanish-speaking clients while building a road to
Roxanny Armendariz is a financial counselor and educator at Neighborhood Development Alliance (NeDA) in Saint Paul, Minnesota. NeDa’s mission is to build affordable housing and empower communities to create sustainability through financial education and guidance. Roxanny hails from Puerto Rico and has Dominican heritage. Her husband is from Mexico. “In my family, we say we are Caribbean,” said Roxanny.
Miguel Angel Ramos Guerrero, a Thrivent financial advisor of Venezuelan heritage, works in Burnsville, Minnesota. Miguel and Roxanny met in 2022 while he was presenting at an annual financial literacy conference at the Mexican Consulate in Saint Paul.
Even though they come from different backgrounds, they share a language and many of the same values. It was a chance encounter that turned into a professional collaboration. Miguel became Roxanny’s financial advisor.
Find a financial advisor who speaks your language—literally & figuratively
Something as simple as a common language shared between a client and their financial advisor seems like a no-brainer. For those who speak English, that may be true. But for Latinos in the U.S. whose first language is Spanish, it can make a world of difference as they explore their financial opportunities.
“Having financial tools that could be explained in Español is power to us,” Roxanny said. “In the end, it took having someone who speaks Spanish—with materials in Spanish that was easy to read.”
Roxanny has been a counselor and educator in the financial field for more than 22 years, but that alone wasn’t enough to change her mind when it came to extending her financial strategy beyond the basics. “I still didn’t trust anything beyond a Social Security retirement account because I didn’t have anybody that spoke my language.”
It took a more personal, cultural connection to mean something for her. “The minute I met him, I was like—finally, we have someone who speaks Spanish!” said Roxanny.
“We trust each other and can communicate with transparency,” said Miguel, who helped Roxanny open her account with Thrivent so she could begin investing.
“When you trust someone, you can disclose your concerns and your goals,” said Roxanny. “You really can have this point of view, ‘OK, we are working on this together,’ ” she said. But that trust doesn’t come easy when a language barrier prevents clients and advisors from making that personal connection.
“Before Miguel, I just couldn’t connect with anyone doing investments,” she said, speaking about the financial jargon that sometimes can separate those who speak the same tongue. The added barrier made it all the more difficult for her to let her guard down in previous attempts to learn about investing. “The language that they speak—the way they explain it—I didn’t trust them.”
Though they come from divergent backgrounds and have known each other for a short amount of time, they banter with an almost familial camaraderie. “He also understood my weakness—that I’ll do it later,” said Roxanny. “It’s different because we know each other,” said Miguel. “It’s like, ‘OK, Mija, let’s set up a time [to talk].”
Miguel’s check-ins gave her the confidence to take a more active role in her own long-term financial strategy. “I like the accountability he puts on me,” she said. “To me, that changed the game.”
When you trust someone, you can disclose your concerns and your goals. You really can have this point of view, ‘OK, we are working on this together.'
Create a vision beyond financial literacy
When she met Miguel, Roxanny didn't know any other local financial advisors who were fluent in Spanish. Most of the financial professionals she knew who worked with this community were focused on basic financial literacy, such as budgeting, saving and debt management. Bringing a Spanish-fluent form of financial literacy to the Latino community has become a vital tool in breaking down barriers that stand to limit economic advancement.
Miguel and Roxanny recognize the unique opportunity they have to help others find a higher caliber of financial security. She wasn’t aware of anyone fluent in Spanish—let alone a Latino advisor—who could talk about finances, investments and other financial tools that go beyond basic banking. “What we are missing is that transition from literacy to wealth,” Roxanny said.
She began referring her NeDA clients to Miguel as a next step to learning about long-term financial strategies. “I can be your financial counselor and get you ready, but there wasn’t anyone to take it further,” she said.
Forging financial goals for an entire family
Roxanny and her husband have three children, all in their 20s. She wanted to start investing so she could provide a financial legacy for them. Roxanny hoped that if she or her husband needed care or had to make up income, they could avoid over-reliance on extended family, friends and community to fill financial gaps. Miguel advised her to start investing, so she could provide a foundation for her family if they needed it. “He told me, that if you care about financial legacy then this is not just investing—it is aging well.”
Roxanny was also anxious to help her children learn how to care for their own financial well-being. She would bring them to her financial literacy workshops when they were younger. “I think that Roxanny cares so much about her family. She wanted to create more than a money legacy, but a mindset legacy,” said Miguel.
Roxanny is trying to set her children up for success with their individual finances. She is teaching them the importance of saving early. After enlisting Miguel to start an IRA (individual retirement account) in each of their names, they began to understand the impact of saving incremental amounts. “I’ll show them a statement even if it’s just a $50 deposit. Showing them the tools to save lets them see the value in being mindful about the act of saving,” said Roxanny.
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Sharing knowledge to uplift a community
Roxanny and Miguel teamed up to start helping her NeDa clients with their finances. “I always say that Latinos are great savers. But we don’t talk enough about investing,” said Roxanny.
But language alone isn’t the only barrier for Latinos. Depending on their origins, they may have deep-rooted beliefs about money that color their perceptions. Miguel cites an example of his family’s understanding of money before they arrived in the U.S. and how it differed from the financial system here in the States. “Back in my country, we see money as a physical representation of something valuable—a home, business, a car. But now that we’re here, we understand concepts of saving and investing where we can find money without touching it—it’s part of something bigger.”
As a financial advisor for Thrivent, he can pass on the knowledge he’s gained—and help draw connections between money and goals for his clients. “Miguel was the bridge to connect these other sets of tools. Someone we could trust in Spanish,” said Roxanny.
The duo sees a purpose in their partnership—to help Latinos overcome barriers to building their generational wealth. “Roxanny and I share that passion for empowerment for wealth for generations of Latinos who are here working hard,” said Miguel. “When people are ready to meet—they’ll do it. They just need someone to show them—in Spanish—the way to do it.”
“We have 525,000 Latinos in Minnesota that are working families. We need more 'Miguels working and creating that leadership—talking about investments,” said Roxanny.
“One of the first things I wanted to do as a financial advisor was work with the community. I take it seriously,” said Miguel. “I really wanted to become a financial advisor for the Latino community so they can know more about their opportunities and create a legacy.”
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