During his closing speech at the Desjardins Group (Canada) annual general meeting (AGM) on Saturday 25 March 2023, President and CEO Guy Cormier of the ICMIF member company reaffirmed his belief that the cooperative model is more relevant than ever. Knowing the economy is currently a concern for many people in Canada, Desjardins has reached out to 60,000 of its most vulnerable members and clients to offer advice on steps they can take to improve their situation.
“We’ve gone from a health crisis straight into a cost-of-living crisis. A crisis is intense. It’s destabilising. It causes anxiety. And that’s what many people are feeling right now,” said Guy Cormier. “But a crisis is also a moment. There’s a before, and an after. Economists at Desjardins are telling us that the significant pressure Canadian households are feeling will remain through 2023. But that things will begin to reverse trend in 2024.”
Guy Cormier also talked about the opportunities he has had to meet with young people, which he described as some of the most rewarding experiences he’s had in the past several years. Cormier also reminded everyone about Dream the Impossible, a major youth event taking place in Montreal on 19 and 20 June 2023. Admission is free for youth ages 18–30 from across Canada.
Dream the Impossible is a discussion which was launched by Cormier. The hope is that this exclusive event will unite young people aged 18 to 30 to discuss the challenges society faces today in order to build a better world. The bilingual event will take place over two days, with 400 young people attending in person and hundreds of participants online. Dream the Impossible will feature a variety of conferences, master classes, workshops and other collaborative experiences guided by three main themes: the environment, the economy and finances, as well as education and employment.
Changes to the governance model for Desjardins leadership
Also during the AGM in Quebec City on 24 and 25 March, approximately 1,100 delegates from Desjardins caisses in Quebec and Desjardins Ontario Credit Union made a major decision for the future of Desjardins Group. They voted in favour of changes to the governance model for Desjardins Group’s leadership roles.
When the current President’s term ends at the AGM in March 2024, the role of Chair of the Board will be separated from the role of President and Chief Executive Officer, a split that Desjardins says reflects best practices for sound governance.
Over the years, Desjardins has seen strong growth. In 2023, its assets totalled CAD 407 billion, an increase of more than CAD 200 billion in 10 years. The organisation has even been designated a systemically important financial institution. But the challenges it faces have become increasingly complex. The needs of Desjardins’ members and clients have evolved, and the organisation has responded by expanding its range of products and services and adding distribution channels. Legal and regulatory requirements have also intensified. The changes have steadily increased the demands on the President and CEO. The organisation says it has recognised the benefits of freeing up the President and CEO from the additional duties of Chair of the Board.
A mission that reflects Desjardins’s commitment to supporting its members and clients
Delegates also voted to update Desjardins Group’s mission, which now reads as follows: As a cooperative financial group contributing to the development of communities, we give our members and clients the support they need to be financially empowered.
This statement is a simple and concise expression of Desjardins Group’s purpose.
New members on the Board of Directors and Board of Ethics and Professional Conduct
The Desjardins Group Board of Directors has some new members. The board includes 12 elected members from the caisse network and six members from outside the caisse network, chosen for their complementary skills and diverse backgrounds. Full details can be found here.