What's Next for SECU - Frequently Asked Questions

April 16, 2018: Frequently Asked Questions Expand/Collapse

Why do we have to change?

The world changed for Shell Canada over the course of 2017. With the divestment of major oilsands assets we quickly realized that today, more of our members were not Shell employees than were. As we began conversations around business development, we realized our name was inhibiting connections with major companies – understandably, they were less likely to want to partner with an organization with the name of their competitor than something that was neutral and spoke to the entire industry.

Why do we need to grow?

Growth is good for your bottom line as a member. Growth also ensures that we remain relevant and can compete in a shrinking credit union landscape. Our desire is to be self-sustaining and not eligible for a takeover by a large credit union.

What does this mean for our relationship with Shell Canada?

Shell is supportive of our transition. Michael Crothers, the current Country Chair, believes that as the energy industry changes in Alberta the name of our credit union inhibits us form doing business effectively. He says that a name change would help us expand our business.

We also know that Shell is tightening its belt on their own branding. We have reason to believe that we could be asked by Shell to change our name regardless in the future.

We will always credit Shell for our strong history and roots. It is why our new logo glows with a strong yellow ember – Shell sparked an amazing credit union.

How much did this cost members?

The Future Vision Committee was a volunteer committee. All investment in the process so far was within our operating budget and no additional funding was allocated. The Board has been supportive and approved these costs at each juncture of the project. We are keeping the experts we engage accountable and on budget.

There will be costs associated with rebranding. The costs are an important investment in our future. Our detailed business case and analysis shows that we will expect at least 2.2% growth in the first year – this is a big return on the small spend to rebrand and market. Our growth target, while seemingly modest at first glance,  will help keep our credit union grow more in line with the rest of the entire credit union system. To add context, the credit union has grown 0.8% annually between the period of 2014 to 2016. Our expected growth, post-rebranding, will see us effectively reaching for a 300% increase in assets.

Is this the right name?

Names are rarely something you love at first glance when you are deeply invested into something. Names take time to understand and to resonate. I learned this sitting on the Future Vision Committee. We examined several name options and naming conventions. We did significant research and legal reviews; Spark the Energy Credit Union always came out on top.

Some of you have mentioned other products, places, and businesses that utilize the name Spark. There is no conflict because there are no other financial institutions using this name. There are a handful of businesses in Alberta that utilize Spark – but we believe that none of these will affect our business.

People do not search for new financial institutions by name but by service, product, location, and reputation. Spark is a name that will get the attention of those searching and be memorable.

A spark is the start of something big.

Will service change?

Never. After 8 focus groups, extensive surveying, and dozens of interviews we know what matters most to you – great service and competitive rates. A rebrand allows us to be even BETTER.

We have created a landing page at sparkcu.ca. I encourage you to look through the information there and engage with us over the next two months as we approach the vote.

The future of our credit union is very bright!

November 2017 Frequently Asked Questions Expand/Collapse

 1. How have the changes at Shell affected SECU’s business and performance?

SECU continues to be a strong credit union with margins in line with the industry average, low operating costs, and strong assets. The shift in RDS’ Canadian oil sands strategy has affected us, no doubt, and we feel this impact the most in member attrition directly and indirectly resulting from our loss of access to RDS employees. We are in good shape right now to weather any short-term challenges on the horizon.

2. What options are you considering when researching the Credit Union’s move towards a sustainable future?

We have our hunches, but believe those ideas need to be tested. Our market research, including focus groups including members and non-members will help. We believe that in order to maintain a successful, sustainable credit union, we need to remain open-minded, be creative, and stay focused in order to do what is best for the Credit Union and its members.

3. What does the future have in store for SECU and its ties with RDS?

We recognize that we wouldn’t be where we are today without RDS and the RDS employees who established the Credit Union some 60+ years ago. We will continue to honour and respect this legacy, and we want to emphasize that we have no plans of severing our ties with RDS.

The member survey that YOU completed told us, in no uncertain terms, that you understand our challenges, and would support opening up the Credit Union to a larger audience, if that meant a more secure and viable future. Because of your feedback, we are exploring the different ways that we can be more inclusive to a broader base, so that we can spread the benefits of exceptional service and competitive rates to a wider community of like-minded individuals, and, in turn secure a stronger future for SECU.

4. Will SECU change its name?

No significant changes to name or branding can be made without the consultation of members and a member-wide vote. We are committed to open, consistent communication as we research and assess the opportunities and challenges presented by name and/or branding changes.

5. How will a change in SECU’s strategic direction impact my access to financial services and products?

We do not have any plans of reducing/removing any of our products and services. More importantly, if our market research reveals additional opportunities to make our customers happy, we are committed to acting.

This summer, your responses to the member survey confirmed what we thought all along – that members choose to stay with us because of our outstanding member service and our competitive rates. These things are the beating heart of the Credit Union, and there are no plans to change this.

6. Does SECU have any plans to move or expand its locations?

We currently do not have plans to make changes to our locations, however if our conversations with our stakeholders reveal a strong need for new or added locations and if it makes business sense, we are certainly open to exploring this further. We will be examining these types of opportunities through our market research in the coming months.

7. How do you see growth, especially if it happens too quickly, affecting your level of service and personal touch?

We value growth, but we value our existing members just as much – if not more! We recognize the impact that growth - especially when it happens too quickly - can have on service levels, and because of this, we have started bolstering our internal operations in anticipation of the future. Constantly calibrating our member service levels is something that we need to always be doing anyway, so we don’t expect any changes for the negative – we’re always aiming upwards.

8. What does this change mean for me?

Right now, nothing. SECU is committed to business as usual – the service, products, and specialized approach you have come to expect will not change. We will continue to keep the lines of communication open and transparent so no change is ever a surprise.

Do you have other questions that were not addressed here? We'd like to hear from you!
Send us an email at shellcu@shellcu.com, or contact us at (403) 718-7770.