Expansion of your FOREX and CFD company in Latin America: A guide for cultural barriers

In the process of expanding a FOREX and CFD trading company to the Latin American market, you have to think about both the services to be offered and the platforms, as well as the language and the particular idiosyncrasies from each of the countries in the region.

In this order of ideas, it must be considered that in certain situations, obstacles could arise that affect the perception of the company or the quality of the service. Sometimes this happens because of cultural barriers. In this article, we will review what they are, why they occur and how to overcome them.

What is a cultural barrier?

There are different definitions of cultural barriers. Let’s look at some of them:

  • These are obstacles that arise as a product of the differences between people from different countries, beliefs or ethnicities.
  • These are problems that are born because of the different characteristics exhibited by human groups, in the context of social and cultural globalization.
  • It refers to those cultural factors that tend to restrict communication or interaction of individuals or groups.
  • Cultural barriers are observed when different customs are manifested.
  • Are determined by the differences between the culture of a service provider and that of the users, limiting or hindering access to them.

In these definitions, we observe that there are several elements in common when approaching the concept of cultural barrier: it constitutes a problem or causes problems, and it arises when there are differences between people or groups. In this way, it could be said that there would be no cultural barriers if we were all just the same. But this is not possible, nor even desirable.

And it is that within the organizations, and even more so in the interaction that they establish with those located in other territories, the possibility of coming into contact with different cultures is always latent. No other way is that a company can expand and grow.

Types of cultural barriers

There are different types of cultural barriers; let’s see which are the most common:

  • Linguistic: These have to do not only with the fact of speaking a different language, but even within the same language there may be differences regarding the way of pronouncing, the way of naming a fact or object, the particular turns and idioms, among other situations.

  • Gestural and body language: We communicate with words as well as with the body. We can mention an example of a possible barrier in this regard: Japanese people look at the floor when greeting; a Westerner thinks that if someone does not look at him when talking, he is hiding something.

  • Proxemia: It is said that Latinos and Africans tend to get closer to the person they are talking to; while Anglo-Saxons and Europeans in general keep their distance. And if someone approaches them, they may believe that they are invading their space.

  • Symbolism: in Japan, China and India, white is the color used in funeral rites and mourning; in Latin America, it is usually black. The symbolic differences cover not only colors, but also the use of objects.

  • Stereotypes: These are usually negative cultural barriers, which assume or attribute characteristics to a person, due to the fact of belonging to a group, which could affect coexistence.

  • Ethnocentrism: This is the name given to the tendency to judge something as positive or negative, considering only one’s own values, and belittling those of others.

Causes and consequences

Barriers are born after a process of social, cultural and economic globalization, where the differences are highlighted between people of different groups as well as the need to reaffirm who they are.

But, all this can lead to opposition or antagonism towards what is different; which would mean, on the one hand, resistance to providing a service and, on the other, resistance to receiving it.

In either of the two cases, cultural barriers can translate into losses for both elements of the equation: some cannot expand or win; others stop receiving quality products and services, which would help them meet various needs.

How to overcome cultural barriers?

It is interesting to note that all these situations mentioned above can occur with respect to a wide variety of services. In this regard, there are cultural barriers in health, education, social communication, marketing and even trading.

Below, we will know what to think about and what measures can be taken to avoid or overcome cultural barriers, if you are thinking about expanding a FOREX and CFD company to the Latin American markets.

Awareness of the differences

This is the starting point for any action, since it should not be thought that Latin America is the same as Europe or the United States, or even that all countries in the region are the same.

For such purposes, it is necessary to investigate the idiosyncrasies and culture of each, what are their customs regarding food, their festivals, their way of dressing, get to know their rites and symbolic elements, as well as representative figures in art, culture, music, literature, dance and sports. 

Of course, the idea of knowing such particularities is to be able to speak to them in their language. In this sense, it is important to avoid showing or extolling the differences in order to make comparisons, which would rather generate problems.

Empathy, respect and appreciation

Valuing what is important to others, and respecting it in equal measure, is the best way to gain their approval and a good perception of our organization. Part of this is achieved by getting into the culture and getting to know it, as mentioned in the previous point.

And in addition to this, it is necessary that the values of the local culture are taken into account and mentioned. An example of this is greeting and congratulating through social networks, on the occasion of national dates, such as independence or the birthday of great leaders.

The nuances of the language

As for speaking in the language of the potential investor, it should be remembered that although in Latin America, Portuguese and Spanish are predominantly used, in the latter language there is a great variety, taking into account that in about twenty countries it is the official language. It is very important, therefore, to know which words have negative or pejorative nuances in everyday speech, in order to avoid them when communicating.

Visual supports

As a way to facilitate the understanding of the contents, avoiding the contradictions that can be generated by the aforementioned idiomatic variety, it is always good to include visual supports, such as graphs, tables, diagrams, and infographics, among others, since they are more universally used.

Physical stereotypes

Another element that could constitute a cultural barrier for communicating with Latin Americans is the physical appearance of the people who appear in the images that accompany the messages.

Latin America is a mixture of races, a product of miscegenation, where there are features of the original ethnic groups, as well as Africans and Europeans that arrived on the continent. Although there are also differences in each country in this regard.

Know how to adapt

There are many examples that organizations have given us about the way to avoid ethnocentrism, adapting the products to the characteristics of the local culture. This is the case of McDonalds: This fast food chain has changed its menu for India, offering veggie burgers, instead of meat.

To achieve this, it is necessary to be open-minded and flexible in order to be able to adapt, but without leaving aside the values that are inherent to the organizations.

Forming a multi-ethnic team

To achieve the expansion of a FOREX and CFD company in Latin America, overcoming or avoiding cultural barriers, it is necessary to have in the team people who know both the language and the way of being and thinking of the local investor.

Of course, it is also possible that disagreements arise in a diversified work team. But, if you learn to manage the differences within the organization, then you will become clearer about how to do it outside.

Knowing how to listen

Last but not least, you have to be able to listen. For this communication channels should be opened, allowing people to give their opinion, always responding and understanding their points of view, even when we disagree. They can be our best guides, as they know what they need and how they feel about the services offered.

Internationalization and local culture

When talking about internationalizing services and expanding into other territories, it is necessary to think about a variety of situations. This involves an evaluation of the markets and business opportunities, as well as the quality of the processes and products offered or services provided.

However, we must not forget who is the one who will eventually receive our services. And when thinking about this person or group of people, we must not overlook their particular characteristics, their culture and their way of being, in order to avoid situations that could become an obstacle, that is to say, these cultural barriers that we have talked about.

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