Connect First Credit Union and Servus Credit Union merger
With more heart and more smart, we’ll be greatertogether
September 20, 2023
We wish to inform you that the connectFirst Special General Meeting (SGM) was adjourned before voting could occur due to unforeseen technical issues. connectFirst’s Board made this decision to ensure members have appropriate access to the meeting and to enable robust participation, in the spirit of the principles of transparency and democracy that are the hallmarks of our credit union.
We will be setting a new date for the SGM and will communicate the details to members as soon as possible.
We recognize the inconvenience this has caused, and sincerely apologize for the disruption. Your ongoing support and understanding in this matter are greatly appreciated.
We remain committed to the merger process, and appreciate the support expressed by Servus’s membership at their Special General Meeting on September 19. We look forward to continuing this merger journey together.
September 19, 2023
We are thrilled to announce that 84% of Servus Credit Union members who voted at Servus’s Special General Meeting cast a resounding YES vote in favour of our proposed merger with connectFirst Credit Union. This is a significant step forward toward strengthening our commitment to serving you even better in the future.
However, we are not across the finish line yet. On September 20, connectFirst will hold their merger vote, and we eagerly await their decision.
While we remain cautiously optimistic, we want to emphasize this process requires both credit unions to approve the merger so it can proceed for regulatory approval.
We remain committed to transparency and open communication as this journey unfolds, and we will keep you informed of developments as they occur.
Please stay tuned for updates after the connectFirst vote.
connectFirst and Servus credit unions proudly serve you and the people of Alberta. We have put our hearts into caring for your money, the careers of our employees, and the communities where we live and work, all while delivering smart advice, products and services.
However, we believe that by merging our credit unions together, we can do even more for you. Powered by over 3,000 great hearts and minds, we want to create the credit union of tomorrow, today. We want to be Greater Together.
With more heart, we’ll give you more personalized service, more support for your business and more help for our communities. With more smart, we’ll implement sophisticated money management services, modernized online and mobile platforms, and more innovative products and tools. We’ll enable you to bank seamlessly how and where you want, and we’ll offer one of the most comprehensive branch and ATM networks in Alberta.
And together, as a stronger credit union, we can better compete with the big banks and emerging fintech companies, provide more opportunities for our employees and greater job security and, most importantly, help our communities, businesses and the province continue to thrive.
To learn more about the proposed merger, its rationale, and the benefits it will provide for our members, employees and communities, download our Member’s Guide.
Financial services are changing faster than many of us have seen before. How?
Sophisticated new players are bringing big budgets and innovative products and services.
Upstart fintechs are building and quickly introducing new technologies.
New players are pushing financial services and apps faster and in new directions.
As two of the most successful credit unions in Alberta, connectFirst and Servus can survive these challenges individually. But we want to do more than that. Together, as a merged credit union, we can position ourselves at the forefront of financial services in Alberta, ensuring the credit union way of banking thrives alongside the major banks and fintech companies in this dynamic landscape.
By voting Yes to the merger, you are ensuring our combined Credit Unions will have a strong and successful future, local businesses will be supported, and our communities will be cared for. By voting Yes, you are ensuring that all our members, employees and Alberta itself will be Greater Together.
As a credit union member, you are an owner, and you have a say in how your credit union operates. As provincial credit unions, we also operate within the rules set out by the Credit Union Act and we’re regulated by the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (CUDGC).
These rules and regulations are very specific about how we handle significant changes to our business, including mergers like the one we’re proposing between Servus and connectFirst.
When a Special Resolution is put in front of members, like it is for our proposed merger, we must hold a Special General Meeting (SGM).
As a member, you have the opportunity to vote on the proposed merger at your credit union’s SGM. Both credit unions’ meetings will be held online so you can attend from wherever you are.
Greater ability to bank where, when and how you want.
Increased ability to invest in new, innovative products, tools and services to meet your evolving needs.
More than 3,000 employees dedicated to deeply understanding your needs and finding solutions to match.
A stronger credit union that is a member-focused, values-driven alternative to big banks.
A truly province-wide network of branches, with more than 140 branches in 80 communities.
Commitment to remaining in every community served by Servus and connectFirst today.
A culture that builds on the strengths of each individual organization.
Opportunities to achieve great things with more like-minded professionals who share a passion for credit union values.
New career opportunities and more professional development.
Access to more tools and resources.
Increased ability to support Alberta’s communities.
Combined expertise and commitment to all Albertans – rural, urban, newcomers and multi-generational residents alike.
More opportunities for members to contribute time and money to the communities and causes that matter to them.
More opportunities to foster meaningful connections and a sense of belonging in each community.
“This is an opportunity to create the credit union of tomorrow and fast-track our ambitious plans to put even more heart and smart into what we do for our members, employees and communities.” Ian Burns, President & Chief Executive Officer, Servus Credit Union
“With over 3,000 great hearts and minds working together, there’s nothing we can’t achieve. This is such an exciting moment for both credit unions.” Don Coulter, Chief Executive Officer, connectFirst Credit Union
Click to hear from Servus Board Chair Perry Dooley:
Click to hear from connectFirst Board Chair, Andrew Eberl:
If you have questions or need more information about the merger, you can meet us in person at the following Open Houses, registration required:
The level of investment required to deliver modern, member-first services is significantly aided by economies of scale for credit unions. By merging two of the largest credit unions in Alberta, connectFirst and Servus can pool our resources, share our expertise, and invest in the technology needed to compete effectively today and thrive in the future.
Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. Our shared passion for personalized member service, community, and cooperative principles, plus an increased ability to invest in the systems and tools necessary to ensure a strong future for a merged credit union, means great things are ahead for members, employees, communities, and the credit union system.
By bringing connectFirst and Servus together, the merged credit union will be one of the largest in Canada with over $30 billion in assets under administration, more than 3,000 employees, approximately 500,000 members and more than 140 branches in 80 Alberta communities. Together, we will be able to operate at the scale necessary to survive for the long term and preserve the cooperative values and ways of banking that are so important to our members, employees and the communities we serve.
Q: What is the vision for the merged credit union?
Servus and connectFirst share a vision for a merged credit union that offers better, more personalized experiences for our members. This would be a credit union that invests in modern banking solutions and empowers members to bank how and where they want. This would be a truly province-wide credit union that is rooted in cooperative values and supports communities all across Alberta.
The merged credit union will build on the best of the individual credit unions to create a joint entity that is sustainable and future-thinking. It will harness the power of our collective experience and expertise to imagine new solutions, and then use our combined resources to bring them to life. Together, we can and will build the credit union of tomorrow, today.
Q: How will the merging of these two credit unions benefit members?
Working for the best interests of members is the main driver behind exploring a merger. It is expected that this merger would have significant benefits for members, including:
The combined strengths of each organization will allow us to enhance member experience and serve additional members as we continue to grow in the future.
Members would benefit from economies of scale in many areas, including increased investment in technology.
The scale of the new entity would afford greater investment than either organization could make individually into things like mobile banking enhancements and innovative products and services.
The geographic reach of a joint organization would be greater than it is for either Servus or connectFirst today, enabling a truly Alberta-wide credit union for members.
Q: What will be the name of the merged credit union?
Both Credit Unions will continue to operate under their current brands for a period of time. Following completion of the proposed merger, the board of directors will decide on a name for the new credit union with the support of independent third-party advisors. Since some documents will require a legal name for the merged credit union during this interim period, we have registered the name “Connect First and Servus Credit Union Ltd.”
Q: When would the merger take effect?
While a target date of November 1, 2023, has been set, this is subject to member and regulatory approval.
Q: Where can I learn more about each credit union’s financial status and history?
Q: What will the board of the new credit union look like?
The board of the new credit union will be populated by seven directors from Servus and five from connectFirst. Each board went through a robust process to determine which of its directors would carry forward – ensuring the new credit union has the right mix of skills and ensuring a strong voice and representation for all members throughout the new organization.
These board members were previously elected by the respective memberships of each organization and will continue to be elected by members in subsequent years.
Q: Who will become CEO of the merged credit union? Why?
The two boards have agreed that Ian Burns, President and CEO of Servus, would take the helm of the merged organization. Ian brings a wealth of leadership experience in the financial services industry including the CEO role at Alberta Central where he focused on strengthening the entire Alberta Credit Union System. With this and other professional experience, Ian is very well positioned to lead the new credit union into the future.
Q: Who will be on the new executive team?
The makeup of the leadership team for the new, merged credit union (other than the Board of Directors and CEO) hasn’t been determined because we don’t yet have approval to move forward with the merger.
Q: What will be the location of the head office of the new merged credit union?
The merged credit union will operate with a distributed workforce, leveraging the successful hybrid work policies currently in place for both credit unions. Impacts to work locations are not expected for the vast majority of employees, including leaders.
Subject to membership and regulatory approval of the merger, connectFirst’s existing office (2850 Sunridge Blvd NE #200, Calgary, AB T1Y 6G2) will be the registered office for the new credit union. This is for legal purposes only and will not affect the locations where Servus or connectFirst employees will work.
Q: How will the merger affect my current accounts and my day-to-day banking?
Nothing will change on the day the merger takes effect. The process to integrate our two organizations will take time. This means the new combined credit union would continue to operate with pre-merger systems for a period of time.
All products and services that currently exist will be available in the new credit union. The merged credit union will continue to offer a full suite of products for retail and commercial members. (This includes paper cheques, account or card numbers, pre-authorized deposits and withdrawals, credit cards, investments, RRSPs, fees, and any other products or services that members enjoy today.) Over time, the merged credit union will have the opportunity to offer more to members with enhanced products and services.
We are committed to minimizing disruptions to our members through any change by keeping member service and satisfaction at the forefront of any decisions. Any change would include a communication plan so that members receive timely information about the process and any potential impacts.
Q: Will my branch, online banking, or ATM be impacted by the proposed merger?
Members will continue to access their current credit union branch and online and mobile apps until instructed otherwise. After the merger is approved, it will take some time for the two credit unions’ technologies to become integrated. Work is underway to establish an interim solution that would allow members to bank with either credit union. Members will receive ample communication in advance of any changes that impact daily banking. Any such changes are intended to enable members to benefit from the broader branch network and capabilities of the merged credit union.
The merged credit union would continue to serve the more than 80 Alberta communities served by Servus and connectFirst today. There is no intent to leave communities where we currently serve members. There are a small number of locations, primarily in urban centres, where we have two branches in close proximity. For these very few locations, we will assess and determine which locations will best continue to serve members. Where branches are consolidated to a single location, members will be well informed of any such change and all employees will be offered positions to continue to serve our members.
Q: Will there be an impact on member experience/customer service as a result of the merger?
Working for the best interests of members is the main driver behind exploring a merger. The combined strengths of each organization will allow us to enhance member experience and serve additional members as we continue to grow in the future. This includes in-person service at our branches or call centres, as well as new technology to enhance the experience of members who prefer to bank online.
Q: Will deposits still be guaranteed?
Yes. Nothing will change in this regard. All cash deposits with Alberta credit unions are 100% guaranteed by the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (CUDGC). Simply put, members’ deposits with us are 100% guaranteed by the government with no ceiling on the amount.
Q: Will the merger impact the Patronage or Dividends that I currently get paid? How will my shares and dividends be impacted by the merger?
The capital position of each credit union is different but complementary. As a result of comprehensive financial modelling and a thorough business case, our expectation is that the value of membership will increase over the six-year forecast period.
Investment Share dividends will follow the terms outlined in each prospectus for those members that hold these shares.
The rates for Patronage and Common Share Dividends will be the purview of the new board. Therefore, those decisions will be made after amalgamation approval. Having said this, as members are our owners, we do know that Patronage and Dividends are important to our membership and careful consideration will be applied by the new board when establishing dividend rates.
As a reminder, for both existing credit unions and the new credit union, dividends are not guaranteed and are dependent on a number of factors, including profitability levels achieved each year.
Common shares held by members in either credit union will be exchanged for the same number of common shares in the merged credit union. Investment shares of any series held by members in either credit union will be converted into an equal number of series of investment shares of the merged credit union. So, if you have $100 in shares with one of the credit unions today, you will have $100 in shares in the new credit union after the merger. The rights and restrictions on a series of investment shares would remain the same through the conversion. Overall, the intention of the merger is to create additional value for all members.
Q: Will I still see the same employees in-branch?
We understand this issue is of great importance to employees and the members they serve. All employees will be offered a role in the new credit union and layoffs will not occur as a result of this merger. New opportunities will be available in the new, larger organization, such as different roles, career paths and professional growth opportunities. It is expected that this merger would have significant benefits for members, including enhanced member experience. Our employees are critical to the success of our credit union and member experience!
Q: What would happen to long-term community commitments made by each organization?
As cooperatives, serving members and the community is at the heart of what we do. Should we merge, this will continue to be the case. Long-term agreements in place with either organization would be honored, subject to the terms of those agreements. Together, both credit unions contribute more than $2.8 million to the community each year. The merged credit union will be able to use our financial strength to show up in even more impactful ways in those communities in the future.
Q: Will Servus continue the Big Share and Million Dollar contest?
No decisions have been made yet on any programs, including the Servus Big Share one-million dollar contest. We know that the contest is valued by members and the decision to continue it should the merger proceed, will be carefully considered.
Q: Can I attend an open house virtually?
Unfortunately, no. The open house events are in-person. If you can’t attend an open house information session and you have questions about the proposed merger that are not addressed on this website, email our merger team at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or speak with an employee at your branch.
Q: Can I submit a question for the Special General Meeting if I’m not in attendance at the event?
Unfortunately, no. Questions may only be asked by members who are in attendance at the SGM. A live Q&A function will be available on the SGM event platform.
Q: If I’m planning on attending the Special General Meeting, can I submit a question in advance?
To submit a question to be considered during the SGM Q&A period:
Questions must be submitted via phone call to the phone numbers posted above from Sept 12 – 14, 2023, 8 am – 8 pm, or via email anytime Sept 12 – 14, 2023.
Questions directed to other email addresses or phone numbers (e.g. specific employees or branches) will not be accepted for submission.
Members must be eligible and registered to attend the SGM.
Members must advise that the question is intended to be asked at the SGM.
Only questions that have not already been addressed through published materials, at open houses, or through other communication channels, will be brought forward.
Only questions, as it relates to the business on the agenda, will be brought forward.
Only 1 question per member may be submitted using this alternative.
Q: Are meeting minutes available from the merger open house information sessions?
Minutes are not taken at any of the 29 merger open house events. These events are informal and informational in nature, and as such are not governed by the Credit Union Act as an Annual General Meeting (AGM) or Special General Meeting (SGM) are. Minutes are not required in this process. The structure of the meeting with separate conversation stations is designed to provide one-on-one or small group discussions with Board and Executive members so that everyone can ask questions and share concerns in a way that is comfortable for them and in which their confidentiality can be maintained. However, we do debrief after each session to capture the general discussion themes arising at conversation station hosts. We gather these (without identifying any member) and seek the guidance of our subject matter experts where required, to update the presentation used at these events, and to post information on the https://greatertogether.info website so that all members may benefit from the information. Thematically, members have been interested to learn about the drivers for the merger, the benefits of it and the impacts. Information on all of this is detailed in the Member Guide available at greatertogether.info.
Q: How can members without internet access or email participate in the SGM and the vote?
As provincial credit unions, we operate within the rules set out by the Credit Union Act and we’re regulated by the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (CUDGC).
These rules and regulations are very specific about how we handle significant changes to our business, including mergers like the one we’re proposing between Servus and connectFirst.
When a Special Resolution is put in front of members, like it is for this proposed merger, we must hold a Special General Meeting (SGM). That meeting must be held on one day and the vote must be held during that meeting.
It’s important to Servus and connectFirst that as many members as possible can participate in the SGMs and vote on the proposed merger. A virtual, online meeting is the best way to do this because of the wide geography that our credit unions serve.
We understand that not having access to the internet or to the tools required to join a virtual meeting may be a challenge for a limited number of members. Staff are available to help find a solution in these instances. Members are encouraged to talk to their local branch staff or call their credit union’s member contact center.
Q: Is an online vote safe and secure?
Yes. Your online safety is our priority. We only use secure, trusted platforms. We have put the same rigor into our virtual SGMs and votes as we do for in-person Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and member votes.
The scrutineers for our virtual SGMs and online vote are professional auditors who have been involved with our prior virtual AGM and voting. They will be involved in reviewing the vote, just as they would with ballot votes.
A professional parliamentarian will attend the virtual SGMs
Only members who have pre-registered will be able to vote
Online votes are anonymous
Online vote results are available quickly and efficiently without the need for counting by hand
Online ballots cannot be spoiled
Q: I have a business and a personal membership in the credit union. Will I vote for each in the SGM about the merger?
Trustees, corporations, partnerships and associations are allowed one vote by the designated representative.
A member may vote only once unless a member is also a designated representative of an organization. Then the member may vote once on their personal membership and once for the organization, to a maximum of two votes. Please note that for both credit unions, the member will require two separate email addresses to register both as an individual and as a designated representative of an organization.
In the case of a joint membership, each person will be allowed a vote as long as they have not already voted on another personal membership. There must be at least one common share for each voting member on the joint account. Once votes have been cast for each of the common shares, no further votes will be permitted on that membership.
Q: What constitutes a ‘YES’ vote?
Quorum for each Special General Meeting (SGM) is 150 voting members. To pass the Special Resolution approving the merger, two-thirds (2/3) majority of the votes cast at the meeting must vote in favour of the resolution. This applies to both Servus and connectFirst’s respective SGMs.
Q: Why are the Special General Meetings (SGMs) and member vote about the proposed merger being held online/electronically?
As provincial credit unions, we operate within the rules set out by the Credit Union Act and regulated by the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (CUDGC). These rules and regulations are very specific about how to handle significant changes to our business, including mergers like the one we’re proposing between Servus and connectFirst. A Special General Meeting is required to be held on one day and the vote must be held during that meeting. Within that context, a virtual/online meeting is the best way to ensure the greatest number of members can participate because of the wide geography that our credit unions serve.
Here are the phases of the proposed merger between connectFirst Credit Union and Servus Credit Union.
<h4>Exploration</h4> Late 2022 – Boards of Directors of both Credit Unions initiate merger discussions. March 2023 – Intent to merge is announced.
<h4>Due Diligence</h4> March 2023 – Joint Steering Committee of Board members is created to guide and oversee merger discussions. April 2023 – Due diligence begins. May 2023 – Alberta credit union partners engaged to explore how the merger may affect the credit union system. This engagement is ongoing. July 2023 – Due diligence completed. No material risks identified. Member benefits confirmed.
<h4>Board Approvals</h4> August 2023 – Both Boards approve the business case, due diligence, and amalgamation agreement.
<h4>Member engagement</h4> August 2023 – Special General Meeting announced to members. August 9th, 2023. The Greater Together campaign is launched to educate members about the merger and how to participate in the vote, and provide opportunities to share feedback and ask questions.
<h4>Member Vote and Voting Results</h4> September 19th, 2023 – Servus Special General Meeting held with results shared shortly after the meeting. September 20th, 2023 – connectFirst Special General Meeting held with results shared shortly after the meeting.
<h4>Regulatory approvals</h4> Anticipated completion by October 31st, 2023.