M&T Bank launches bilingual branches in Delaware

The M&T Bank branch in Elsmere is one of two designated bilingual branches in Delaware serving large Latin American populations. | PHOTO COURTESY OF GOOGLE

Analine Ayala is the sole owner, cook, accountant and manager of El Cantaro, her Mexican restaurant in New Castle that she opened in 2018.

Ayala, who speaks mainly Spanish, arrives at her restaurant early every morning to make tortillas and pico de gallo, marinate meats, and finish other prep work for the day ahead.

As of January 2020, M&T Bank has targeted residents like Ayala amid the growing Spanish-speaking populations of Delaware, where about one in 10 people is Hispanic or Latino, according to estimates from the 2019 U.S. Census. That number jumps to 27% in Elsmere, where M&T has a new designated multicultural branch which Ayala uses for her business.

“We continue to see multicultural communities… opening more small businesses and opening accounts,” said David Femi, head of M & T’s multicultural banking team. “If we don’t take the time to really and deeply understand their banking behaviors and attitudes, we might not be relevant in this space. Any bank that does not have a multicultural strategy does not have a growth strategy.

Before Ayala, 43, opened a business account at M&T Bank, she only accepted cash at El Cantaro and had difficulty understanding English posters at other banks, communicating with a banker at about his accounting needs and to learn more about short-term loans and other financing options. .

M&T helped Ayala set up a credit card processing provider and learn more about the money market. She said she finally felt comfortable asking questions while visiting her bank.

“It is a great blessing when [banks] have someone who speaks spanish, ”said Rachael Torres, Ayala’s daughter. “Now she’s happier and more open-minded because she has a great team to support her and make her understand how everything works. “

Under Femi leadership, M&T unveiled a new Site in Spanish where clients can book online appointments in Spanish and other languages. The bank now has two designated multicultural branches in Delaware Elsmere and Georgetown with bilingual staff and signage in Spanish, joining 14 other people through M&T’s footprint.

“This gives them access to banking solutions and resources,” Femi said. “When you walk into a bank branch and talk to someone who speaks your language, who can empower you and enlighten you from opening a current account to discussing your retirement plan you feel comfortable.

M&T also works in partnership with Delaware State University to identify, train and recruit bilingual and multicultural students to work in its branches.

“Our goal is to eliminate this language barrier at all costs,” Femi said.

The bank’s extensive services reflect not only a growing Latin American population, but also an increase in business ownership by Delaware residents like Ayala. In Georgetown, where nearly 40% of the population is Hispanic or Latino, 800 Latino-owned businesses were registered in Sussex County in 2019, up from just 383 five years earlier, according to a Delaware Community Foundation report.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ayala had to close her restaurant for two months. Her M&T bank manager in Elsmere made sure she understood how to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, calling her to verify that she was following the required steps of the application. and sending him an email with links to the appropriate websites.

“He got her back from the start,” Torres said of Elsmere branch manager Steven Vivolo. “He was basically her angel since she started here, so she never felt lonely.”