Planning for our Future

May 11: Member Telephone Townhall Expand/Collapse

We were very excited about the results of our first Telephone Townhall help on May 3rd. We had over 630 members join us on the call and at our peak there were over 280 attendees listening in and asking their questions about the rebrand. I was joined by fellow Board Members Tim Rose, Guy Stuart and Talib Daredia from the Future Vision Committee, and Dennise, Bruce and Badriea from our management team.

We were impressed by the caliber of questions and the level of engagements from all of you. Thank you for participating and ensuring the conversation was productive, informative, and balanced.

Today I am sharing the full audio recording of the Townhall. If you were unable to join us but have questions about the rebrand process I encourage you to listen in. We discussed costs, special meeting format and process, service level, meaning and decision behind the proposed name change, and our future marketing plans.

We asked a number of poll questions throughout the call to better understand the opinions and engagement of our membership. Results included:
  • 14% who responded on the line attended the AGM
  • 56% who responded on the line said they were likely to attend the Special Meeting on June 13
  • 80% who responded on the line supported the new name (Spark The Energy Credit Union); 15% were still unsure
  • 93% who responded on the line supported rebranding to market more broadly to ensure growth
Full details for the Special Meeting on June 13 are now posted - watch your mailbox or check them out online now. You can review the special resolutions that we will ask members to vote on at the meeting on our website too.

Stay tuned for additional opportunites to engage directly through other events. In the meantime, you can continue to share your feedback online.

April 16: Our Creative Process and Brand Unveiling Expand/Collapse

Last week, I shared an important clip from our AGM last month. I shared the vision behind our path to growth including my own reflections on our future as a credit union and my excitement around the prospect of sparking interest in our brand through a new energy.

As promised, today I am sharing part 2. Philippe, our brand engineer, helped tell the story of our creative process and unveiled Spark the Energy Credit Union at our AGM on March 28 after my introduction.

The last week has been an important week for our newly elected board and the SECU management team. We have met and are moving forward with our plan to socialize our new energy with every member. Socializing means that we want to have a two-way conversation about our future – we want you to be part of this process.

Stay tuned for opportunities to engage directly through telephone townhalls, events, and online. In the meantime, you can continue to share your feedback online.

April 9: The Path to a New Energy Expand/Collapse

On behalf of the SECU Board and Employees, our sincerest thanks goes out to those of you who attended 64th Annual General Meeting on March 28th.

It's been a little over a week since we unveiled our proposed new brand at the AGM - one that breathes A New Energy into our long and proven history of helping Albertans thrive during good times, and be resilient in challenging times. Members in attendance got to learn all about the path that the Future Vision Committee took to get to our proposed new brand. In case you missed it, you can learn all about it too by watching the video below.

March 29: Have You Heard? We Have A New Energy Expand/Collapse

March 28, 2018

This evening we shared our recommendation for a new brand name at our AGM.

How do we want you to feel when you first hear the new name and see the logo? How do we want you to feel when they say it aloud?

That we have a new energy. That more than ever, we are here to support one of Alberta’s most valuable natural resources, its energy workers.

There are two things you should know about our new name.

First, it’s full of energy.

Our name won’t just be a game changer, a fresh name in a tradition-bound industry, it will also reveal who we are for, who we get up in the morning to serve. That’s the second thing you need to know.

Of course, our name alone can’t do everything. Our history and track record will play their important roles. But our integrity, skill and energy will give our new name its credibility and power. It’s a hard-working name, but thanks to you, we’re confident we can live up to it.

Quick question.

Can you name a 100% Alberta-based Credit Union focused heart and soul on what really matters to members of the energy industry?

After watching this video, you will.
Over the course of the next eight weeks we will be engaging members. We want your feedback and we want to ensure you have all the information you need as you head into the Special Meeting on June 13, where you will decide on whether we, as a Credit Union, will move forward with our proposed changes.


Your new brand

March 22: Future Planning Update - Recommendation to the Board Expand/Collapse

On March 12 the Future Vision Committee presented their final brand recommendation to the Board. The creative recommendation was accompanied by an overview of the business case and business opportunities associated with future changes.

After thorough discussion and thoughtful questions from Board members and answers from the Committee representatives and subject matter experts that Board voted unanimously to move to the next stage of the process. The Board was confident with the process, the recommendation, and is aligned on the future direction.

Our next stage is sharing the recommendation with you, the members. The AGM will be our venue to unveil our recommendation and begin a conversation with our members about the future vision of our credit union.

Ensure you have RSVPed. You do not want to miss out on this exciting, historic AGM.

Register for the AGM by March 23, 12:00 pm.

Remember, no official changes can take place without a member wide vote. We will discuss this process at the AGM and will announce when and where a vote will take place.

We are so excited to be able to show you all the hard work for the Future Vision Committee.

March 16: Future Planning Update: Being Credit Union Proud Expand/Collapse

March 16, 2018

In late February our Future Vision Committee assembled for a half day workshop around potential names, descriptors, and taglines. The discussion was robust and focused on the direction towards a future name, description, and tagline. The Committee quickly learned that the common saying ‘what’s in a name’ has a long answer – the workshop drew heavily on the research conducted over the past six months and conversations about the name were grounded by the brand positioning.

Brand positioning is the act of designing an organization’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of its target market. In other words, our brand positioning describes how our brand is different from its competitors and how it is perceived by the members (both current and potential). Brand positioning turns the traditional mission, vision, values conversation on its head and digs deeper to answer questions like:

•    What do we believe?
•    What is our greatest strength?
•    How will we grow and succeed?
•    What makes us different?

Understanding brand position helps allow the conversation about names and descriptions come into focus. Our brand positioning is based on our members’ needs, our roots and history, and our role as a credit union. It reminds us why we exist and who we are for.
So how did we answer some of those questions?

•    Banking isn’t about money. Banking is about people.
•    Our passion.
•    By engaging, innovating, and living our values.
•    We know what makes the people working in the energy industry different.

Our answers made several things clear – one especially – we are proud to be a credit union. We are proud of what it means to be a credit union and we believe identifying ourselves as a part of our name is important. Our credit union values and our passion for the community make us different and give us an edge over our competition.

The process of developing our new brand continues – the recommended brand positioning answers 12 important cultural and organizational questions and the Committee’s recommended descriptor will tell our potential members who we are and what we are experts in. The full brand recommendation was shared with the Board this past week. We know each member has valuable insight into our future vision process; please reach out if you have anything to add as we position future growth for our credit union.

March 8, 2018: Future Planning Update: Stakeholder Interviews and Next Steps Expand/Collapse

What’s in a name? At the beginning many of our Future Vision Committee members had some preconceived notions on how we would go about picking a new name for our credit union. GWP has used the excellent example throughout our process of naming a child – it is emotional, it takes time, and it is often hard to truly know if the name fits until you see the personality. Names might seem unusual at first but grow on you over time – or names might speak to you immediately. Given the history and the connection that many members have told us they feel towards Shell Employees’ Credit Union we were relieved to know GWP viewed this as our (collective) baby.

The brand engineering process proposed by GWP is comprised of 5 steps. Each step builds on the last and leads us towards a future vision for the credit union. GWP does not just create a logo for us but a name and tagline that hold significance and can stack up against our competition. They also develop brand positioning that tells the story of our reimagined credit union and helps us focus our target audiences, values, and potential business opportunities.

Step 1 was a thorough process by GWP – closely examining our competition, our history, our current approach, and our vision for the future. GWP interviewed all 15 Future Vision Committee members to understand their unique perspective in tandem to their review. The insights gleaned from the interview process were shared with the committee and the board on February 20. The interviews confirmed direction with comments like these:

“Their rates and products are as good if not better than most, and their personalized service and flexibility proves they understand me. I can trust them. That’s why I am a Member. Alberta energy workers like me want a credit union of our own.”

“Change the name – it discriminates. It limits our growth.”

“We can be a new and different place to do banking if you are an energy professional in Alberta.”

GWP is finalizing name suggestions and our Future Vision Committee is carefully weighing options. Remember, it is never too late to share your own ideas with us. We love hearing everyone’s ideas and gathering your feedback. Reach out if you have anything to add as we consult on future growth for our credit union.

February 26, 2018: Future Planning Update: Brand Architecture Expand/Collapse

What’s keeping you busy this week? Members of our Future Vision Committee have spent almost 100 combined hours thinking, debating, sharing, and planning for the future of our credit union. We are so excited to be having the conversations we are – and getting to spend quality time reflecting on the aspects of our business that mean the most to our members.

Recently, GWP Brand Engineering  and CIPR Communications  lead the Future Vision Committee through a brand architecture decision-making process. Don’t be afraid to ask what brand architecture is – most of the Future Vision Committee had the same question. Brand architecture is the structure of brands within an organizational entity. It is the way in which the brands within a company's portfolio are related to, and differentiated from, one another. Having this conversation early in process where we peel back the layers of our brand was important – understanding what we wanted the brand architecture to be allowed us to carefully reflect on our culture, our motivation, and our goals.

There are three distinct models the Future Vision Committee discussed:

Examples of the “Holding Company” would be companies like GM or Procter and Gamble. “Power-Parents” are players like Microsoft and TD. “Mega-Brand” examples include BMW, Disney, and Servus Credit Union.

After a thorough discussion about strengths and weaknesses of all models the Future Vision Committee unanimously agreed that the “Mega Brand” Model best suited the current situation and the immediate future for the Shell Employees’ Credit Union. This decision will dictate brand positioning and the creative concept presented by GWP in the coming weeks. This brand architecture will also serve to highlight the best, and most relevant business opportunities for the credit union as we plan for growth.

Remember, GWP is leading our Future Vision Committee through a three-phased approach in order to help us create a brand recommendation for the Board – and ultimately you. All Future Vision Committee recommendations must be supported by the Board. And no final decision will be made without a member-wide vote. We are excited to be moving to phase 3 of their process in the coming weeks.

We are learning a lot through this process – and we hope you are too. Please never hesitate to share your thoughts with us. Your opinions are key to our future growth.

February 16, 2018: Future Planning Update: Brand Engineering Process Expand/Collapse

Have you been thinking of your future this month? Your future is definitely on our minds as we engage experts to help us move forward in a way that best represents our strong focus on our members – that’s you!

Our Future Vision Committee has been meeting regularly. As a reminder, this committee is made up of stakeholders that represent a variety of opinions from a range of demographics: members, non-members, board representatives, staff, management, and subject matter experts.

Opinions of our members (whether they be staff, board, or individuals) are key, but the subject matter experts that we have engaged around the table help to keep us grounded and facilitate our conversations so that we are focused on driving growth, results, and engagement (3 win-wins for members!).
You’ve heard about our experts from Insights Matter who help us with our future-focused market research  and our team of communications professionals from CIPR Communications  – in January we added to our team by engaging creative experts, GWP Brand Engineering.

GWP Brand Engineering is a Canadian company founded in 1996. They help organizations engineer a brand’s strategic positioning, story, values, tone and character. They drive results by working with what makes a brand great and authentic – its story. We knew they were a fit when we saw their passion for the credit union movement and the understanding the possess around the importance of storytelling. As a member, you already know the powerful story we have to tell and we are excited to work with these subject matter experts to bring that story to life. GWP has engineered the Meridian credit union brand, the Credit Unions of Ontario association, and worked with ING Direct, Portage, Borrowell, and intact insurance (to name a few).

GWP is leading our Future Vision Committee through a three-phased approach to help them create a brand recommendation for the Board – and ultimately you. All Future Vision Committee recommendations must be supported by the Board. And no final decision will be made without a member-wide vote.

GWP Brand Engineering Process

On February 20 our Future Vision Committee will spend a half day with the GWP team as we learn the results of Phase 1, and work through Phase 2 together. As always, we will keep you updated on the results of our collaboration.

If you have any questions about our process or any valuable insights you would like our Future Vision Committee to reflect on please let us know. We love hearing from our members and are excited about our future together.

February 8, 2018: Future Planning Update: Stategic Implications of Focus Group Findings Expand/Collapse

Have you been reflecting on the seven key findings from the focus groups we had Insights Matter conduct for us late last year? While there is competition in the financial institution space, there is a lot of room for growth for our credit union.

The report presented to the Board in January by Insights Matter also included six strategic implications for the Shell Employees’ Credit Union. These implications are factors that our Future Vision Committee is carefully considering as they identify the best opportunities for growth.

  1. Don’t Ask Prospects to Switch, Ask Them to Try You: The “hassle factor” is the main reason why customers don’t leave their financial institution (FI) in the first place. Additionally, consumers don’t “switch” FI’s. They “add” new FI’s - and if they like their experience, they migrate more of their business over. By taking the “try us” approach, SECU can make the enrolment process simple and easy for prospects, which will be appealing. SECU should consider creative ways to “give free samples”, hi-lite their low competitive rates, and if possible entice customers with “no fees”.
  2. No Branches Is a Barrier: As mentioned on the previous slide, consumers want access to branches when they need them. Barring a partnership with other FIs, SECU should anticipate this concern, proactively address it, and reinforce why not having branches is not a barrier to doing business with SECU by drawing customers toward banking solutions that don’t hinge on the existence of branches.
  3. Guide Prospects About How to Best to USE SECU: Following the previous two points, SECU should give some thought to the best ways for prospects to use SECU at the on-set. According to members, SECU is particularly well-suited to longer-term products and services that do not require day-to-day management. SECU needs to consider how they can guide prospects in terms of how best to “try us out.”
  4. Two Concepts to Leverage: Non-members responded positively to the notion of “member” and “not profit at all costs”. These are potentially important concepts because they are each packed with meaning. For instance, “member” connotes several additional benefits such as “you have a voice, will be treated with respect, are more than a number and will receive personalized service. “Not profit at all costs” connotes additional benefits like “low fees, and selling what you need and not what we need.” Because they are packed with positive meaning, these concepts are powerful.
  5. SECU’s Best Quality Is a Table Stake: Credit unions typically get great grades for “customer service.” SECU is no different, and may even surpass other credit unions at the level of service they provide. Members boasted about SECU’s customer service levels, and stories about how they went the extra mile. Unfortunately, most customers of other FI’s also rate their FI highly for customer service. SECU will need to recognize that their number one strength is a table stake – it is something that most consumers simply expect from their FI.
  6. There is a Bigger Battle to be Fought: This relates to perceptions of all credit unions, and not specifically SECU. Many consumers simply do not know a lot about credit unions. In brand speak, one would say that credit unions do not score well on “familiarity”. Consumers are not sure what they are, who can deal with them, and why people deal with them. Additionally, those who do have some familiarity with credit unions have stereotypes about them – that they are “small town rural”, that they are not technologically sophisticated, that they are for older customers, and that they are for blue collar workers. In their growth strategy, SECU will need to at least consider these issues and stereotypes. In their quest for growth, SECU will be taking on the larger challenge facing all credit unions.

Qualitative research is always so fascinating to reflect on. These opinions are not new but help us put into perspective the things that matter to our members – current and future. Our goal will always remain putting our members first – so we have been carefully reflecting on all the results.

We feel fortunate that we got to hear directly from so many members as a part of the focus group process. Thank you to everyone who participated and for those that continue to engage with us to create a successful plan for future growth.

Our next phase of research and recommendations is in full swing. Our Future Vision Committee each spent 90 minutes in an intensive stakeholder interview within the past month to further our understanding of needs, culture, and priorities. We will share the results with you later this month.

Remember, it is never too late to share your insights with us. We love hearing everyone’s ideas and gathering your feedback. Reach out if you have anything to add as we consult on future growth for our credit union.

February 2, 2018: Focus Group Findings Expand/Collapse

Published 02 February 2018

January is already behind us – time flies at the beginning of the year as we all ensure plans are aligned to drive success.

As you know, in November and December we engaged Insights Matter to complete focus groups to better understand the opportunities available for growth with our current members and potential members. Insights Matter administered 8 focus groups:

  • 4 groups were held with members from Fort Saskatchewan (1 group) and Calgary (3 groups);
  • 4 groups were held with non-members from the Edmonton area (1 group) and Calgary (3 groups);
  • Focus groups were held at a professional facility in Calgary (Qualitative Coordination), and Edmonton (Trend Research)
  • Focus groups were 90 minutes in length
  • Participants received incentives for their participation

For our members, the general research objectives were to better understand our strengths, opportunities, and competitive advantage. With our non-members we wanted to understand the current challenges they face when dealing with financial institutions and the gaps we could address in acquisition tactics. We also wanted to understand perceptions of credit unions and how individuals believe their financial institutions could stay in touch with customers and members.

Insights Matter presented their findings to the Board in January. The seven key takeaways were:

  1. No Active Loyalty to Financial Institutions (FIs): Non-member participants reinforced that they have little active loyalty to their FI, and in many cases the only reason they stay is the hassle of changing the situation. Key frustrations driving the passive loyalty are a) not understanding their needs, b) upselling them on things that are perceived to be in the best interest of the FI and not the customer, and c) fees.
  2. Branches Are Important: Whether or not people actually use them, consumers “think” branches are important, and branches are an important ingredient to the “convenience” and “anytime banking” formula that focus group participants identified as important (even millennials).
  3. New FI’s Are Intriguing Because of Easy, Frees and No Fees: Tangerine and Simplii Financial were mentioned as intriguing in the world of FI’s today because they do not have monthly fees, and/or give customers a certain number of free transactions on a monthly basis before additional charges kick in. In addition, they are seen as having a simple and easy account set up process.
  4. Table Stakes: Convenience, on-line banking and customer service are table stakes. Banking customers expect that the FI they deal with will perform adequately in these areas.
  5. Keys to Success for a New FI: a) understanding me and what is important to me, b) making an effort to understand my needs and proactively providing appropriate advice, and c) always there when I need you (i.e. can count on you).
  6. Extreme Positive Perceptions of SECU: Members expressed extremely positive impressions of SECU - most notably for their high level of customer service, flexibility, and the trust and protection they provide to members. Members felt that, unlike other FI’s, SECU puts the best interest of members ahead of their own interests.
  7. “Whatever It Takes”: Members expressed a very strong commitment to SECU, and want to see SECU be successful in the future. Members were open to a variety of strategies in order to see SECU be successful. Without hesitation they not only supported but also recommended a name change, opening the doors to non-members, improved marketing, and strategies to create success that are unhinged from the success of Shell Canada.

While some of these insights surprised us – many were confirmation of things we already knew. These findings are helping us better understand the opportunities we have for the future.

The Future Vision Committee has begun to meet regularly and will be providing the Board with a recommendation on future branding and direction by the end of the quarter.

We are always open to your feedback. Please contact us and keep in touch. Your insights are so valuable to us.

December 2017: Member Update Expand/Collapse

Shell Employees’ Credit Union: Member Update
Published 11 December 2017

Wishing you a safe holiday and a prosperous New Year.

We absolutely cannot believe that 2017 is already coming to an end. Thank you for engaging with us in record numbers this year as we make some big decisions that help us to enable growth and continue to put member needs first.

Before 2018 we wanted to update you on the progress of our research and latest progress.

Staff and Board Interviews: We believe it is so important to take a good look internally as we reflect on what makes us unique, strong, and well-positioned. We engaged a third-party to anonymously interview our staff and board to help us better understand the front lines and what it will take to push us to the next level. Everyone interviewed voiced excitement over the ability to adapt to a changing marketplace.

Credit Union Discussions: Did you know that there are a number of small and medium-sized credit unions who have had similar conversations like the ones we are having right now? We were given the opportunity to talk with four of them to find out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges of their transition to different names, brands, or business models. It was terrific insight, and we are already applying those learnings to the way we are approaching our next steps.

Focus Groups: Insights Matter has now completed our focus groups. We were so encouraged by the fact that so many of you thought it was important to participate. Thank you to everyone who put their names forward – and all of those who were given the opportunity to participate. The groups were well balanced – we know our membership is diverse and we wanted to reflect that. The full analysis of findings will be presented to the Board in January, and we will share key findings with all members via email in the New Year. 

Engaging Experts: We continue to build a strong team of experts around our table. We issued an RFP for creative services to firms with experience in the energy and financial industries. Final decisions will be made before the holidays so we can begin to discuss the next steps towards building a strong brand that will enable a strong future.

Future Vision Committee: We have formed the Future Vision Committee which will be the stewards of the process over the next several months. The Committee will have representatives from our Board, Membership, Staff, Management Team, RDS and other key energy companies, our expert consultants, and other non-member stakeholders. We will introduce the committee in the New Year and look forward to working with each member so we can ensure our process prioritizes all perspectives through the process.

The Board will continue to guide next steps in preparation for our AGM in 2018.  Final decisions on our direction forward will require a member-wide vote. We will continue to update you on progress along the way – and we want you to feel free to reach out to us with your questions, comments, and encouragement too. Contact us anytime.

Thank you for being amazing members. Happy Holidays!

Your SECU family.


November 2017: We're So Excited For Our Future! Expand/Collapse

We are so excited for our future!
Published 7 November 2017

The Board’s 2017/2018 planning session in September helped to provide clarity for our next steps. The summer member survey told us that you were willing to support us as we planned for a successful future and the Board’s direction echoed that sentiment.

The SECU management team is undertaking a BIG research project – we are ensuring we get a full viewpoint of all the angles as we create a path forward for our future together – and we have to admit, we are very excited!

We are talking to credit unions from across Canada to learn about the successes and challenges they faced as they moved towards a sustainable future; we are having interviews with staff and board members to better understand their frontline impressions of our opportunities; we are studying and engaging experts on marketing, branding, and communications; and we are asking for your help once again.

SECU has partnered with Insights Matter to dig deeper into the opinions you shared with us this past June and July. They will be facilitating a number of focus groups – focus groups allow us to have in-depth conversations with our members to best understand the priorities that matter to them as we determine our next steps. You will see opportunities to participate announced in the coming weeks.

The results of our focus groups, and our BIG research project, will be presented back to the Board in early December. At that time, the Board will guide next steps in preparation for our AGM in 2018.  Final decisions on our direction forward will require a member-wide vote.

We will update you on progress along the way – and we want you to feel free to reach out to us with your questions, comments, and encouragement too. Contact us anytime.

In the meantime, we have put together this FAQ document that should address your most immediate questions We are committed to communicating and ensuring all members are an active part of this process every step of the way.

We continue to be committed to ensuring we make the right decision to enable growth for all members. Talk to you soon.

Thank you!

Your SECU family

August 2017: Member Survey Findings Expand/Collapse

Huge results! Over 1,300 of you shared your opinions!

Published 22 August 2017

Huge results! Over 1,300 of you shared your opinions with us this summer by participating in our member opinion survey. Thank you for your sharing your ideas for the future with us.

The survey launched June 12 and closed on July 12. Members were notified about the survey through email notifications, automated phone message, personal emails and phone calls from staff, posters and postcards distributed at branches, on social media, through our website and e- newsletter, on the Royal Dutch Shell Intranet, and on the Oil Timers website.

The results have been presented to the Board and will help to inform the 2017/18 planning session so that a strong plan can be built to help ensure a successful future for the credit union. Your responses about our services, name, membership, and future were encouraging. In summary, the results demonstrate four broadly supported points of view:

  • Affiliation with RDS was a main reason for joining SECU but is not a reason why members continue to bank with SECU - competitive rates, services, and products are consistently the reasons behind member loyalty
  • While members remain split on the importance of changing the name their decision to remain with the credit union after a name change would not be affected
  • An overwhelming majority of members understand the need for opening membership to enable growth for a successful future
  • Maintaining exclusive affiliation with Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) is unimportant to a large majority of members when considering the changing economy in Alberta

The survey results reflect a strong mandate for strengthening SECU’s growth potential by updating its brand and opening up membership to a broader pool of Albertans, specifically those that are part of the energy industry.

Before the Board’s 2017/18 planning session we will embark on a series of focus groups to better understand and explore the opinions shared in the survey. We are committed to keeping this dialogue about our future open; do not hesitate to contact us with your ideas. Final decisions on our direction forward require a member-wide vote.

We are committed to ensuring we make the right decision to enable growth for all members.

Thank you!