Creating sustainable prosperity

    
      "More than ever, Desjardins Group is exercising leadership marked
              by confidence and solidarity in a changing world"
                                                          - Monique F. Leroux
    

QUÉBEC CITY, March 27 /CNW Telbec/ - As part of Desjardins Group's Annual General Meetings, being held today at the Québec City Convention Centre, the Chair of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Monique F. Leroux, reiterated her strong conviction that cooperative values and methods are fully capable of meeting today's needs and ambitions.

"It is no coincidence that the UN declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives," she declared. "It did so because in today's world, we want to encourage people to get organized, become responsible, and take charge, in a spirit of solidarity. We want to incite governments all over the world to implement policies and regulations that will facilitate the creation and development of cooperatives. We also would like the worldwide cooperative network and its role to be better understood in terms of social unity, democracy, and contribution to economic development. Desjardins Group is part of the great world network of cooperatives. We are often seen as a model for democracy and commitment. We are all creators of sustainable prosperity."

According to Ms. Leroux, Desjardins Group should be proud of its accomplishments, which contribute in many ways to improving the well-being of people and communities. "Our fundamental identity is not negotiable," she added. "Desjardins Group is a treasure in the history of cooperatives in Québec, in Canada and in the world. Like you, I intend to see Desjardins Group remain a treasure in this part of history that we have yet to write together. Our mission and our values are of a permanent nature. They were, they are, and they will be central to our identity. They will always remain alive through the men and women who make up Desjardins."

She also took the opportunity to reveal Desjardins Group's new vision: Desjardins, the leading cooperative financial group in Canada, inspires trust around the world through the commitment of its people, its financial strength and its contribution to sustainable prosperity.

The President also presented an overview of the major achievements of 2009, which was a pivotal year for Desjardins, considering a return to profitability, with surplus earnings of over $1 billion, an overhaul of the organizational structure, an important Congress and the preparation of the Desjardins Group 2010-2012 Strategic Plan. "We are ready for the future," she asserted.

The primary strategic orientation is to capitalize on cooperative values and social responsibility to differentiate Desjardins. According to Ms. Leroux, "We do not have to invent a new conscience to be able to display our difference in this regard. We only have to be ourselves, to be loyal to our heritage, and to take pride in our values."

The second orientation is to implement a member and client centred approach throughout Desjardins Group. Accordingly, all Desjardins people are encouraged to combine forces. "While we have long existed as a cooperative group above all to serve our members, we must now continue to do so by putting the entire strength of Desjardins Group at their service."

Speaking to the members of the caisses, she confided, "We are going to do what is necessary so that you can be recognized and fully served, no matter which Desjardins door you knock on. And we will work together with your caisse to make sure that it continues to play a central role in providing you an excellent experience with Desjardins."

The third orientation is to achieve sustained and profitable growth by emphasizing openness, innovation and agility. "We plan to go forward towards new avenues for growth, towards market segments where we are less present, where we still have significant space to penetrate, while remaining active in areas where we already operate."

Desjardins Group also needs to optimize overall productivity and performance and reinforce its financial strength, an orientation that was confirmed with enthusiasm at its Congress in November 2009. As stated by Ms. Leroux, "While being more efficient and by improving our business processes, we will accomplish more than just lowering our costs. We will also increase the quality of the experience of our members when they do business with us. Their expectations are high, we all know that. We must measure up."

Finally, to attain all these ambitious objectives, Desjardins will count on the leadership and the mobilization of elected officers and employees. "Beyond the plans and models, beyond the structures, processes and technology, there are people. Let's not forget that it's people who fundamentally make the difference."

About Desjardins Group

Desjardins Group is the largest cooperative financial group in Canada and the sixth largest in the world, with assets of $157 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, Desjardins is supported by the skills of its 42,200 employees and the commitment of over 6,200 elected officers. For more information, visit www.desjardins.com.

SOURCE Desjardins Group

For further information: For further information: On March 27: Press room at the Québec City Convention Centre, (418) 649-5233; Source (for journalists only): André Chapleau, Director, Media Relations, Desjardins Group, (514) 281-7229, 1-866-866-7000, ext. 7229, andre.chapleau@desjardins.com


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