Monique F. Leroux comments on her re-election as Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group

LÉVIS, QC, Jan. 31, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Monique F. Leroux, who was re-elected by acclamation as Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, said she was extremely honoured by this sign of confidence in her leadership. Leroux was elected to her first term in March 2008, and this second term will end in 2016.

"I am undertaking my second term with the support of the Board of Directors and all the elected officers, and together we will continue making progress on many projects already underway, in particular the Co-opme Education and Cooperation Program which we launched in 2011," said Leroux. Co-opme is a group of concrete actions promoting personal commitment, education, responsible finance management, and recognition for cooperatives and cooperation. "We will be strengthening the role of Fondation Desjardins, revitalizing the Desjardins Cooperative Institute, and focusing particular attention on the development of individuals—our greatest asset," added Leroux.

This year will see the end of Desjardins Group's 2010-2012 strategic planning cycle, and work to develop the 2013-2016 strategic plan will begin. "We will continue to attentively manage Desjardins Group's growth, both in Quebec and in the rest of the country. We will also make efforts to increase member and client satisfaction. On an international level, we will continue discussions with Crédit Mutuel in France and we will maintain our support in developing countries, thanks to the expertise of Développement international Desjardins," Leroux explained.

During this, the International Year of Cooperatives, Leroux reaffirms her profound belief in the relevance of the cooperative model. "Throughout the year, members of the cooperative and mutualist community in Quebec and across Canada will have the opportunity to showcase the business model we all so strongly believe in. With that in mind, the International Summit of Cooperatives to be held this fall will help promote and increase recognition of the cooperative movement, not only here at home, but also around the world."

In conclusion, Leroux added, "As we move into this second term, which I am very excited about taking on, I am counting on the creative, innovative and cooperative spirit of all elected officers, caisse managers and employees within Desjardins Group, so that together we can keep developing our organization for the benefit of our members and clients as well as that of our communities."

About Desjardins Group

Desjardins Group www.desjardins.com is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada with assets of nearly $190 billion. Drawing on the strength of its caisse network in Québec and Ontario, and its subsidiaries across Canada, it offers a full range of financial products and services to its 5.8 million members and clients. Desjardins specializes in Wealth Management and Life and Health Insurance, in Property and Casualty Insurance, in Personal Services, in Business and Institutional Services. As one of the largest employers in the country and among Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2012TM, Desjardins is supported by the skills of its 43,600 employees and the commitment of nearly 6,000 elected officers. A new education and cooperation program is now available to Desjardins members and the general public. For more information, visit www.desjardins.com/co-opme.

INFORMATION

Summary of Monique F. Leroux's first mandate

It was under the theme Live Desjardins with trust and confidence: The power to discuss, the power to decide and the power to act that Ms. Leroux began her first mandate as Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, where her work has been guided by five change-generating beliefs:

  1. The caisses are the driving force of Desjardins Group
  2. The Federation and its subsidiaries exist to serve the caisses and their members
  3. Desjardins Group's growth and strategic development depend on the caisses, with support from the subsidiaries and the Federation
  4. Our human capital is our greatest asset and our strength for the future
  5. Our cooperative values must be central to all our actions.

This led to the creation of the Desjardins Group Development Plan, adopted by the Board of Directors in 2008, and including five major projects from which have stemmed significant achievements.

The caisses are the driving force of Desjardins Group

This project has profoundly altered the dynamics with the caisse network. Under Ms. Leroux's leadership, with the support of the Board of Directors, a series of actions were taken to increase the caisses' contribution to and influence on Desjardins Group's development.

The project included a number of consultations; for example, more than 500 people ─ elected officers, caisse general managers, and Desjardins Group managers ─ participated in the work leading up to the 2009 Congress and to the preparation of the 2010-2012 Strategic Plan. Moreover, a committee of caisse officers studied fundamental issues related to the governance of Desjardins Group and the caisses, officer engagement, and collaboration mechanisms. The result was a series of recommendations accepted by Desjardins Group's Board of Directors and implemented starting in 2011. In addition, measures were taken to systematically consult caisse general managers.

The Evolution of Desjardins Group's Structure

The Desjardins Group Development Plan stipulated a review of Desjardins Group's organizational structure. In spring 2009, Ms. Leroux announced a new, simplified structure and the creation of a new 14-member management committee.

The goal of the structure was to break down internal silos to develop a simplified service offer for members and clients. Accordingly, the new structure was determined based on the major business sectors, namely Personal Services, Business and Institutional Services, Wealth Management, Life and Health Insurance, and General Insurance. The result has been greater cohesion and flexibility within Desjardins Group.

During the President's first mandate, Desjardins also created a capitalization plan and a capital management framework to better shore up its foundations and facilitate the circulation of capital within its different components. Today, Desjardins still ranks among the best capitalized financial institutions in Canada (see financial statistics below).

Desjardins Group Strategic Development and Growth

Ms. Leroux also worked on ensuring the sustained growth of Desjardins Group. Fall 2009 marked the 20th Orientation Congress of Desjardins Group, during which some 1,200 caisses delegates clearly reaffirmed their commitment to Desjardins's growth in Québec and across Canada, and specifically expressed their support for strengthening its financial results and performance.

These decisions were reflected in Desjardins's 2010-2012 Strategic Plan, which Ms. Leroux and her colleagues and partners worked very hard to produce.

Following this, Desjardins acquired Western Financial Group, a large network of insurance brokers in Western Canada, MGI Financial Inc., and the private-label cards portfolio for the Staples/Bureau en Gros chain of office-supply stores. Desjardins also established partnerships, including one with Promutuel in 2010, and, more recently, with Crédit Mutuel de France, with whom it concluded a cooperation agreement for the development of both cooperative groups.

Desjardins also formed a team dedicated to medium-sized and large businesses to accelerate its growth in this market and further support entrepreneurs seeking to transfer ownership of their companies.

Business development achievements include opening an office in Calgary for the Capital Markets team, reaching the milestone of 2 million active general insurance policies more quickly than anticipated, making a major investment of $125 million in Lévis to revitalize the Cité Desjardins de la cooperation (the Desjardins offices) to support the growth of insurance companies specifically, and another $30-million investment in Complexe Desjardins in Montréal.

Optimization of Desjardins Group's Performance

Ms. Leroux frequently points out that Desjardins is a leader by example of the cooperative model. As such, Desjardins Group's overall performance remains a top priority, and was largely impacted by recurring productivity gains stemming from the implementation of the new organizational structure.

Major efforts were also made to change product/service distribution methods, and work methods in the caisse network to improve service quality for members.  These changes will help create an improved experience for Desjardins members and clients, and provide added flexibility for business development. The solutions retained will be implemented starting this year.

In terms of financial results, during Ms. Leroux's first mandate, Desjardins Group posted growth at all levels. For example, since 2007, capitalization increased by 48 %, the Tier-One capital ratio by 280 basis points, assets by 31.7%, and employment by 8%.

Financial statistics Years 2008, 2009, 2010, and first 9 months of 2011

  Year 2008 Year 2009 Year 2010 First 9 months - 2011
Surplus earnings before member dividends $89 M $1,074 M $1,437 M $1,155 M
Member dividends, sponsorships and donations $267 M $355 M $385 M $252 M
Total income $8,373 M $10,670 M $11,685 M $9,694 M
Return on equity 0.9% 10.2% 11.6% 12.3%
Equity $10,029 M $11,346 M $13,063 M $13,690 M (1)
Tier 1 capital ratio 13.6% 15.8% 17.7% 17.0%
Total capital ratio 13.0% 15.8% 18.7% 18.3%
Gross impaired loans/gross loans ratio 0.40% 0.46% 0.44% 0.42%
Assets $152.5 B $157.4 B $172.3 B $189.8 B
Employees 41,664 42,110 42,641 43,600

Sources: 2010 DG Annual Report (figures according to GAAP), press release on 2011 Q3 financial results (figures according to IFRS)
(1) The amount includes minority interests (according to new IFRS)

Mobilizing All of Desjardins: Human Capital, Culture and Values

With respect to our people, various measures were taken to implement the changes stemming from the 2009 restructuring. In addition to efforts made to increase employee mobilization, Desjardins carried out a number of initiatives for employees, which has resulted in Desjardins Group ranking, today, as one of Canada's Top 100 EmployersTM.

For their part, caisse elected officers and general managers were given access to more communication and information activities, leading to implementation of an intranet portal for the caisses' approximately 6,000 elected officers. The relaunch of the Desjardins Cooperative Institute — which will be open to elected officers, managers and staff members — will also help support employee development.

"Desjardins has a soul, and that soul is cooperation," said Ms. Leroux in 2008, during her first speech to the caisse network representatives as Chair of the Board, President and CEO. This belief is echoed in the Co-opme program, which helps to reinforce Desjardins's leadership in the areas of education and cooperation, and to which Desjardins allocates 1% of its annual surplus earnings. Based on four major pillars, Co-opme proposes concrete actions in relation to employee engagement, education, responsible financial products and services, and the promotion of cooperative values.

It was under this program that Ms. Leroux launched the Desjardins Personal Finance Index and the accompanying online self-evaluation test, available at http://www.desjardins.com/co-opme. She also presided over the relaunch of Fondation Desjardins, which grants scholarships to young people in all regions. To fight excessive debt loads, the minimum payment on the VISA Desjardins credit card was increased from 3 to 5%.  Ms. Leroux also launched the idea of the Internal Summit of Cooperatives (http://www.2012intlsummit.coop), to be held in Québec City and Lévis on October 8 to 11, 2012, and attended by leaders and organizations from the global cooperative and mutualist movement.

Ms. Leroux received a number of accolades during her first mandate:

2011
Named a member of the advisory group on the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives.
Named "CEO of the Year" by readers of Les Affaires.

Recipient:

  • Women Corporate Director Award;
  • Woodrow Wilson Visionary Award;
  • Award from the Public Policy Forum;
  • Award from Catalyst Canada;
  • Honorary Doctorate from Concordia University;
  • Honorary Doctorate from Bishop's University.

2008 to 2010
Named one of 25 Transformational Canadians (The Globe and Mail, La Presse and CTV).

Recipient:

  • the Personnalité de la francophonie économique award, from the Canadian chapter of the Forum francophone des affaires;
  • the Réalisations award, Prix Femmes d'affaires du Québec;
  • the Management Achievement Award, from the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University;
  • Honorary Doctorate from Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.

 

SOURCE DESJARDINS GROUP

For further information:

(for journalists only):
André Chapleau
Media Relations
514-281-7229
1-866-866-7000, ext. 7229
media@desjardins.com

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