Frequently Asked Questions

SPARK's strategy updates

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Our Answers

What's happening?

The Boards of SPARK The Energy Credit Union and Connect First Credit Union voted unanimously to move forward to develop a business case to analyze how our two credit unions can work together for the benefot of our memberships and 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 more than 40 branches in central and southern Alberta communities.

Why Connect First?

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

What would be the benefits for members?

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.

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 and has an enhanced online banking platform. In a partnership, our members would benefit from these enhanced amenities.

Will my account number or account services change?

 

For now, everything stays the same. Should a partnership move forward, we will do our best to limit any member impact and make a transition as seamless as possible. SPARK and Connect First benefit from being on the same banking system, so we anticipate that this will make integration easier.

 

Will the employees still have jobs?

All SPARK employees have important roles to play in the future, so everyone will have opportunities with Connect First if a partnership moves forward. No loss of employment as a direct result of the amalgamation will occur.

Are my deposits still guaranteed?

Yes, your money on deposit with Spark The Energy Credit Union continues to be 100% guaranteed* and will be in a new merged credit union.

 

What about my common shares?

Member shares currently held in SPARK will be converted at par to shares of Connect First Credit Union should the credit unions move ahead with a partnership.

How will this affect future dividend payments?

If a merger occurs, SPARK shares will be converted to Connect First shares and membership dividends will be paid in line with Connect First’s dividend payouts. For information about Connect First Financials and dividend payout history, visit: https://www.connectfirstcu.com/stakeholder-reports.


Will the branches in the Shell Tower and Fort Saskatchewan stay open?

There are no plans to close either location at this time. Should a merger move forward, all retail locations will become part of an ongoing review to ensure members' needs are being met.

Should I close my accounts now and move to another credit union? Why should I stay?

We want you to stay. Throughout the process we will be here for you and continue to provide the service you expect. Should a partnership move ahead, our goal is to transition your accounts with as little disruption to you, our members, as possible. We value our member relationships and we want to continue serving your needs within the Alberta credit union family.

Are you becoming a big bank?

No. If the business case reveals the benefits we anticipate, we would be looking to create a larger, more competitive credit union to better serve our members.

Our cooperative values won’t change, and we will continue to focus on putting our members and communities first. Connect First’s vision is to be Alberta’s neighborhood credit union, so we feel confident that you will continue to receive the same people-focused service you’ve come to expect from us.

What happens next?

We are currently 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.

How will the special resolution be voted on and discussed, in light of COVID restrictions?

Given the continued efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we will hold a virtual AGM, online in early 2021. We are at the early planning stages, but we anticipate that members – regardless of where they live – will be able to vote on the special resolution electronically or by telephone.

Are there costs to the SPARK membership for this proposed partnership?

There are some costs associated with ensuring the merger meets regulatory and legal requirements. Those costs are shared between the two credit unions and will be outweighed by the financial benefits of a merger. 

What will be the name of the new credit union?

If members vote in support of a merger, SPARK will assume the Connect First name.

When will I know more?

We anticipate the business case will be complete by early February. Should the boards then approve the business case and vote to move forward, a member vote will take place at the Spark AGM in March 2021.

All members will be provided with thorough information before the AGM.

Can I speak directly with a board member about this?/ Who can provide me with more information?

Yes! A special email box has been set up to share additional questions you have.

Feel free to email your-board@sparkcu.ca. You can also reach out to our CEO, Badriea Taha badriea.taha@sparkcu.ca


Last updated: 21 December 2020
*All principal and interest is 100% guaranteed by the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation, excluding common shares, investment shares, and mutual funds. Click here to learn more about our deposit protection.
 

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