Mutual fund giants wanting to go after ethnic niches could take a number of lessons from community banks that have thrived for years in this area: Speak to them in their own language, in their own communities.

Community banks’ success has come from offering full multicultural services, from service representatives who speak a foreign tongue, to investment products that cater to each target market’s specific taste and needs, to collateral materials and advertising that appeals to their cultural sensibilities. Most importantly, in every case where community banks have garnered billions of dollars of ethnic group assets, it has primarily been because they have established a visible presence in the communities where these people work and live, according to Andrew B. Collins, an analyst with U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray.

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