by Louis Barajas
Reviewed by Jon A. Ford, CFP®
Readers can begin their own journey into Barajas' book without the need to establish his credibility and sincerity. The Journal of Financial Planning featured the author in its August 2000 issue and he has actively served financial planners as an advisor to the Journal and as a member of the Financial Planning Association's Identity Task Force. And now Barajas is serving the first of his two years as a member of the FPA Board of Directors. But does he also have something to offer a reader looking for sound advice on a population heretofore unreachable? The answer is emphatically, "You betcha!"
The Latino Journey is an excellent book for financial planners hoping to be of greater benefit to the Latino community. It is divided into three parts: (1) the road to financial greatness—and the potholes along the way, (2) creating financial greatness—the journey begins, and (3) checklists, worksheets and resources. Each of the three parts consists of a number of chapters.
The book reveals a CFP® practitioner who perceives things the way most of us do; but Barajas also sees much more and can take us easily and smoothly into this new and adventurous world. With clarity and ease, he intertwines the Latino culture, language and personality to create a unique response to their financial planning. I didn't easily assemble the pieces of this puzzle, however, until the book was almost completely read. Here's why.
During an early part of the book Barajas describes "potholes" to financial greatness. He cautions that I, not being Latino, would likely be accused of racism if the potholes were my idea. He says that Latinos depend on others to take care of them (The Patron-Peon System) and seek advice from consultants who are actually non-experts (Mi Compadre).
Further, he says, the importance of the Latino ego can mean less money (Machismo) and that fatalism, procrastination, and the penchant for informality are common cultural potholes. He's right—I wouldn't be able to say these things to this group. We'll see later, though, that it is precisely this realization that allows the book to be such a powerful tool for planners with Latino clients.
I may not be able to describe Latinos as can one of their own, but my experience tells me that these potholes are very similar to those of professional groups intimately known to me—psychologists, university professors, and educators of all sorts. These potholes characterize members of my family and my church who attend seminars and workshops. As a matter of fact, any group I know seems to have an abundance of these potholes in their road to wealth.
Almost as an afterthought, the author provides a back-of-the-book look at "The Most Common Financial Mistakes Made by Latinos," and "The Most Common Financial Mistakes Made by Everyone." As if Barajas was reading my mind, this contrast was perfectly placed. His Latino service model cleared and "The 10 Steps to Creating Wealth, Security, and a Prosperous Future for You and Your Family" (the book's subtitle) came into focus. His revelation was masterfully timed—almost like a favorite mystery story—ah-hah!
Read this book! Even if Latinos don't live in your financial planning neighborhood, Barajas will alert you to cultural group variances among your clients, the recognition of which may be just the spark to get them back on their own journey to financial greatness. "Cada quien construye su propio destino"—Each person builds his or her own destiny. As for me, I've enrolled in my first Spanish class and am looking for a list of our community's Latino leaders.
Jon Ford, CFP®, is president of Commission-Free
Financial Planning Solutions Inc. in Cedar Falls, Iowa.