Investment in Minority Interests May Offer Huge Potential for Wall Street

Even as Wall Street recovers from the financial crisis, it may be missing out of billions of dollars of potential investment from an untapped resource—minority investors.

“It’s a very untapped market with enormous potential,” says Dr. Tahira Hira, a professor of financial literature at Iowa State University and who conducted a survey on trends of minority investing.

“Like women—Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans all have financial needs and I think it’s easy to say they have not become a big player on Wall Street yet,” Hira adds.

“It’s really a lost opportunity,” says Dr. Mitchell A. Franklin, an assistant professor at the Martin J.Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. “One reason for this is that statistically there are a smaller number of minority groups on Wall Street offering services and minorities are left out of marketing efforts. They’re not really part of the Street’s demographics.”

Right now, minority groups tend to put their money in safe places like banks, CDs and savings bonds, according to Dr. Hira’s study. But that could change as minorities age along with the general population and look for better investment returns to help them in their retirement years, say analysts.

“Minority groups are getting older and they will be looking for someplace to invest for their future like other baby boomers,” says Russell James, assistant professor in financial planning at Texas Tech University. “There’s going to be a huge shift in the next ten years with these groups to more active investing and the taking of risks, especially the high end earners.”

There are no reliable estimates on how much minority investment money could be tapped, but they are clearly becoming a bigger force in the US economy.

Current estimates put the total purchasing power of goods and services for Hispanics at $1 trillion and growing. And their numbers have exploded to 14.4 percent of the total U.S. population in 2006—and they are expected to move from a minority to the majority in the U.S. in 2050.

Asian Americans have more than $579 billion in purchasing power with a median income of $52,018 higher than the U.S. average of $43,318. Overall, the Asian-American population grew 48% from 1990 to 2000, more than four times the growth rate of the U.S. population.

And in a report entitled “African Americans in 2010,” the U.S. black population is said to be growing 34 percent faster than the population as a whole. The purchasing power for the African-American community is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2012.

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