Chair of the Board, President and CEO Monique F. Leroux addresses Calgary Chamber of Commerce for the first time
CALGARY, May 17, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Following her first visit to the Western Financial Group offices in High River, Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Desjardins Group, presented the cooperative group's business strategy for Western Canada to a business audience at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
In her introduction, Ms. Leroux pointed out that while each part of the country is unique and diverse, Canadians share much in common. She used a similar analogy when comparing the differences between Desjardins and Western Financial Group, which the cooperative group acquired in 2011.
"At first glance, it seemed like we had very little in common. And yet, when we began to look more closely, we realized that Western and Desjardins are actually very similar. Consider Western's slogan: 'Because we live here.' That would work perfectly for Desjardins' caisses, or credit unions. After all, even though they are part of the large Desjardins network, they are owned by their local members," said Leroux. She went on to say that Desjardins views its relationship with Western as more of a partnership than strictly that of an owner. Desjardins will be helping Western with financial support, products and expertise to help it achieve its goal to be the largest financial group in Western Canada by 2020.
Desjardins' growth strategy across the country and in the West:
- Continue growing the pan-Canadian presence of its insurance business, payment cards, securities and business services
- Seek new acquisition opportunities, like Western Financial Group and MGI Financial
- Continue building strategic partnerships in Canada and internationally.
Ms. Leroux pointed out that Calgary plays an essential role in this strategy and highlighted Desjardins' investment in the Albertan and Calgary economies. "We already have a significant and growing corporate banking business here in Calgary. Since opening our office in 2008, our corporate banking portfolio has grown to $1.3 billion," said Leroux. "And as a demonstration of this growing friendship, I'd like to announce that the Fondation Desjardins has partnered with one of the best schools in the country, the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, to award a $5,000 scholarship to a full-time student entering the MBA program. The scholarship will be available for the 2013-14 academic year."
The importance of credit unions in this plan
Lastly, Leroux discussed the integral role that credit unions play in Desjardins' business strategy, as well as in local and international economies. She pointed out that Canada has the world's highest per capita credit union membership with over 10 million members, or about one-third of the Canadian population. "Internationally, co-ops are a huge, but sometimes forgotten part of the global economy," said Leroux. "The 300 largest co-ops in the world combined generate about $1.6 trillion in revenue. That's roughly equal to the entire GDP of Canada, the tenth largest economy in the world."
In recognition of this fact, the United Nations has declared 2012 the Year of the Cooperatives. Subsequently, the International Summit of Cooperatives will be hosted by Desjardins, the International Co-operative Alliance and Saint Mary's University in Quebec City this October. The event will assemble leaders from the world's top cooperatives and some of the greatest economic minds to discuss alternative economic approaches. "I would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to all of you to join us in Quebec for the summit," said Leroux. "I think you will find it is a lovely city, a lovely time of the year, and that Quebecers can be just as friendly and welcoming as the wonderful people I've met here in Calgary."
- Desjardins: A Canadian Success Story; http://youtu.be/wUnzJ5wtA6I
- Monique F. Leroux speaks about the importance of the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives, Toronto Board of Trade, June 2, 2011; http://youtu.be/yK9Jyih_7s0
- Discover Quebec City, host of the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives; http://youtu.be/hG-8T2mSQoM
- Scott Tannas discusses the Desjardins acquisition of Western Financial Group, January 2011; http://youtu.be/5Cgdf6IRPeU
About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group www.desjardins.com is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada with assets of $196.4 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 5.6 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 44,645 employees and the commitment of nearly 5,400 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.
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