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December 2020 Partnership Update

Published: 21 December 2020

Valued Members,

I hope this note finds you well and that you and your loved ones continue to stay safe.

When I last reached out, I shared that your Board of Directors was pursuing a credit union partnership that would provide benefits for our members and improved sustainability for our credit union.

I am delighted to share that we are a few steps closer to a credit union partnership. Last week, the Boards of SPARK The Energy Credit Union and Connect First Credit Union voted unanimously to move forward to develop a business case analyzing how our two credit unions can work together for the benefit of our memberships and our employees.

WHO IS CONNECT FIRST?
Over the past few years, four Alberta credit unions, First Calgary Financial, Chinook Financial, Mountain View Financial and Legacy Financial have come together under the banner of Connect First Credit Union. Collectively, Connect First Credit Union serves more than 120,000 members at over 40 branches in central and southern Alberta communities.

WHY CONNECT FIRST?
Based on discussions and explorations to date the Boards of both credit unions believe strongly that a partnership between SPARK and Connect First would create value for our members, including an enhanced ability to invest in and maintain the resources that our credit unions require, such as advances in technology, product and service development, and security and compliance oversight.

Furthermore, a partnership would allow for a more diverse product suite across the banking, term deposit, loan, and investment product portfolio, to better serve your needs.  Connect First currently operates a member contact centre, has an enhanced online banking platform, and in a partnership, our members would benefit from these enhanced amenities.

With significant operational benefits and a shared focus on local member service, cooperative values, and long-term sustainability, SPARK and Connect First believe there is a strong case for partnership and want to explore the possibilities further.

WHAT ABOUT THE EMPLOYEES?
SPARK and Connect First are dedicated to ensure employees are valued during the process. All Spark employees will have opportunities with Connect First if a partnership moves forward. Although some roles may change, no loss of employment as a direct result of an amalgamation will occur.

WHAT WILL THIS LOOK LIKE?
With your support if the business case progresses positively and we move ahead with a partnership, SPARK and Connect First together would serve approximately 130,000 members in 44 different locations extending from Edmonton (Fort Saskatchewan) south. With approximately $6 billion in assets, the amalgamated organization would be one of Canada’s largest credit unions. By combining our balance sheets and sharing costs, the two credit unions will be better positioned to serve our members and communities for years to come.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Our next steps include developing and finalizing a business case, which includes due-diligence steps for both credit unions, ensuring we are creating value for our members.

An official partnership or merger will require regulatory approval and, importantly,  a “yes” vote from our members at our AGM in early 2021. We know you will have a lot of questions and we will do our best to answer as we move through the process.

An information package will be shared in advance of our virtual AGM in 2021 to ensure you have all the information you need about our two like-minded credit unions and the benefits we see in partnering together for a sustainable future.

We remain focused on achieving an outcome that is in the best interest of you, our members, and we’re counting on your ongoing support as members and owners of Spark. Should you have any questions or concerns, we are here to listen.

For now, it’s business as usual and your deposits with Spark will continue to be 100% guaranteed by the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation*.

Please feel free to reach to our confidential email: your-board@sparkcu.ca.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season,

Sincerely,

Tim Rose, Board Chair
On behalf of the Board of Directors

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