Reasons and Benefits
The proposed merger is about taking all that is great about our credit unions and making it even better. By combining our teams, our expertise and our assets, we’ll be stronger, better able to respond to increasing member needs, regulatory requirements and heightened competition.
Together we can provide members with a better service experience and more options, including more products, services, and technology solutions. In addition, by pooling our knowledge, resources and connections, we will be able to have a greater impact in the communities we serve, carrying on our founding members’ legacy for generations to come.
The merger means more products and services will be available for our members, as well as more ways and more places within BC’s Interior for you to connect with us.
For members of Spruce, some of the benefits of merging with Interior will include:
- Expanded branch network with 21 branches in the Thompson Okanagan and 2 branches in Prince George.
- Access to more affordable chequing accounts, less expensive mortgage and loan rates and better deposit rates than are currently offered to Spruce members, made possible through greater scale
- Access to a member service centre six days a week with extended hours
- Access to general insurance services (property and casualty, commercial and Autoplan)
- Member service made stronger through enhanced employee development and training
- Higher commercial lending limits to better accommodate the needs of larger business members
- Introduction of payment solutions such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay
- Participation in Interior Savings’ Million Dollar Bursary Program
- The creation of a $750,000 legacy community fund for distribution to worthy groups and initiatives in Prince George over the 2-3 years following the Merger
Read more about the benefits in the Guide to Understanding the Proposed Merger.
Our employees are the heart of our credit union, helping members reach their financial goals while growing and protecting the financial health of the credit union. Through this merger, we expect to provide Spruce employees with enhanced training, expanded scope of responsibilities for many roles, and greater opportunity to gain experience in different areas of the company through cross-training and project teams. In addition, as we bring the two credit unions’ benefits programs into alignment, we expect an overall improvement to benefits with a lower cost as a result of greater scale.
Through the years, both Credit Unions have made significant and important investments in community. Combined, we’ll have even greater ability to create positive and lasting change across Prince George and the BC interior. A $750,000 Legacy Community Fund that is dedicated for exclusive use in the Prince George region will be established to set our path forward. This is in addition to Interior’s Million-Dollar Bursary Program and Community Investment Fund which will now also benefit Prince George.
Furthermore, employees will be able to participate in a volunteer program with paid time to volunteer, pledges for staff raising funds and recognition and awards for staff reaching volunteer milestones.
No. Interior and Spruce are both strong and healthy credit unions. With shared values and a similar vision, we recognize the many benefits that could come from joining together. This includes pooling financial resources, providing greater benefits to our members, communities and employees.
How will this affect my banking?
Our credit unions are committed to providing you with same high-quality, personal service that exists today. At the time of the initial merger, you will notice little change to your banking and you can continue to bank as you normally would.
Over time, we will integrate our systems and operations so that you will have more products and services available to you, as well as more ways and more places within BC’s Interior to connect with us, including an expanded network of 23 branches. Our goal is to minimize disruption as much as possible throughout this transition.
You will continue to enjoy the same guarantees with respect to your deposits through the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.
For the initial period following the merger, you should notice little change to your branch and how you bank. Members of both credit unions will retain their current products, accounts and other financial services unless you choose otherwise.
Over time, you can expect the same, or complementary, products and services that you currently enjoy, with Spruce members gaining access to additional products and services not previously available. Furthermore, due to increased scale, we expect members of Spruce will see lower account fees and better rates than Spruce could offer on its own.
You will not need to change anything, and your direct debits and other arrangements will continue to function as you expect.
Following the merger, you can expect to be served by the same smiling faces you’ve come to know. Both credit unions have a reputation for providing exceptional service to their members. During the integration process, we will develop a plan to enhance member experiences where service, responsiveness and a friendly approach will be primary considerations. The plan will include employee training programs to ensure employees are empowered to deliver the personalized service you have come to expect, whether you choose to bank online or in a branch.
A key factor that led the boards of both credit unions to recommend this merger was our common set of values. We both focus on maintaining the human connection in banking and staying true to our credit union roots where people come before profits and members are not just a number.
Together, we will continue to operate as a credit union and uphold the cooperative principles and values that both organizations were built upon. Your deposits will still be 100% guaranteed by the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. Every member will continue to have an equal say in how the credit union operates. The credit union will continue to remain focused on supporting the communities in which it serves—and with our combined assets, we will be able to give back even more.
Regardless of our size, our ability to create a sense of community is a result of the cooperative principles we abide by: local ownership, democratic decision making, and concern for community. Both Interior Savings Credit Union and Spruce Credit Union operate with similar values and a shared purpose of keeping the human touch in banking. Local connection and local decision making will always be critical to living this purpose. The employees in each community are the face of our credit union and know the people and the needs of their community best.
Also, to recognize the legacy of Spruce Credit Union, as part of the Asset Transfer Agreement, a Legacy Community Fund will be created, which will hold $750,000 for distribution to worthy groups and initiatives in Prince George over the two to three years following the Merger.
In accordance with the Credit Union Incorporation Act and Spruce’s rules, voting will take place at a special general meeting of members on November 23, 2021. Due to current public health restrictions, the meeting and vote will be held virtually. Click here for more information on voting.
The meeting is being held virtually in accordance with Spruce’s Rules and the recently amended Credit Union Incorporation Act which now specifically allows for virtual meetings in place of in-person meetings where not explicitly prohibited by the credit union’s rules. The recent changes to the Credit Union Incorporation Act promote greater participation and are intended to facilitate enhanced member engagement in light of the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing public health restrictions. Consistent with the last annual general meeting of Spruce, Spruce has made this choice to ensure the greatest opportunity for member participation. If there are any questions about how to participate virtually please contact Diana Matheson at 250-596-8629 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Guide to Understanding the Proposed Merger is your best way to learn more about member and community benefits, costs, risks, management structure, the voting process, and how the two credit unions are aligned. Download the guide here or pick up a copy at your local Spruce Branch. We will also send you a copy in the mail by early November.
We also encourage you to review the Supplementary Information Package (download here or get a copy in-branch) which includes the full Asset Transfer Agreement, along with other useful information such as the BCFSA letter of consent, a review of alternatives considered, a copy of Interior Savings’ rules and profiles of the directors and executive management of the proposed combined credit union.
Should the Spruce Credit Union membership vote in favour of the merger, the two credit unions would officially merge on January 1, 2022 (or another date as may be specified by our regulator, the BC Financial Services Authority).
The boards of both credit unions have enthusiastically and unanimously approved this proposed merger for the benefits it offers the members, employees and communities of both credit unions. As a member, we encourage you to consider the board recommendation in your decision. If the merger is not approved by members, each credit union will continue to operate as it does today however, it may be increasingly difficult to offer improved services.
As the assets of Spruce will be acquired by Interior, and because Prince George is in the BC Central Interior, the legal name of the combined credit union will be “Interior Savings Credit Union.”
The board of directors and executive leadership team for the combined credit union have been selected based on their experience, expertise and proven ability to build successful, values-based credit unions that are recognized for moving ahead while giving back to their communities. Current Interior Savings President and CEO, Kathy Conway, will assume the role of President and CEO of the combined credit union. You can read more about the leadership structure in the Guide to Understanding the Proposed Merger.
The Board of Combined Interior will be comprised of Interior Savings’ current board members and be expanded to include one additional director for a three-year term, to be appointed from Spruce’s existing Board. Reg Foot, Spruce’s current Board Chair has been appointed to this position.
Each year, there is a board election and there are typically 4 board positions up for election. All members from all locations will be eligible to be nominated to serve on the board. You can read more about the structure of the combined credit union in the Guide to Understanding the Proposed Merger.
We know change can be unsettling and there are a number of things we plan to do to confirm our commitment to our employees. As at the Closing, all employees, with the exception of the CEO who is retiring, will be offered employment with Combined Interior under the same terms and conditions. As there is no intended immediate change in respect of Branch structure, Branch employees will continue to hold similar roles, supported with personalized training plans. Some members of our administration team will likewise be supported with training as they transition into new roles in Combined Interior. Over time, it is expected that certain other administrative positions with Spruce will no longer be required and, for those employees, there will be a commitment to provide a minimum of 12 months guaranteed employment to help transition Spruce into Combined Interior and assist those employees in possibly finding new positions within Combined Interior or transition out of the organization.
No. There are no plans to close any branches.
Not at this time. That said, the credit union world is evolving and changing and we expect there may be more opportunities for consolidation in the credit union system in the years to come.
While the federal option was reviewed as part of the strategic planning process, it is not something either credit union wishes to pursue at this time.
The merger is being structured such that Spruce members will be asked to approve the transfer of their assets to Interior Savings. The method of the merger was jointly decided on by both Boards of Directors. They agreed that an asset transfer was the most practical way to merge, so that they can focus on bringing together the best of both credit unions to create something better.
While the members of Interior Savings will not be required to vote on the transaction, we invited them to complete a survey earlier on in the process to share their thoughts and concerns. We welcome Interior Savings members to share any further questions or comments with us by emailing email@example.com.