The Desjardins Group (French: Mouvement Desjardins) is a Canadian cooperative that is the largest federation of credit unions in North America, and is counted among the World’s Strongest Banks according to the Banker magazine. It was founded in 1900 in Levis, Quebec by Alphonse Desjardins. While its legal headquarters remains in Lévis, most of the executive management, including the CEO, is based in Montréal.
As of 2017, there are 293 local credit unions (French: caisses populaires) operating 1,032 points of service and serving more than seven million members and clients, mostly in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
In addition to retail banking, the Group has over twenty subsidiaries offering products and services related to insurance (Desjardins Financial Security, Desjardins General Insurance), real estate (Complexe Desjardins), venture capital funds (Desjardins Venture Capital), and brokerage (Desjardins Securities). The Desjardins Group, through subsidiary Développement international Desjardins, is also active in over 50 developing countries through technical assistance programs and various investments.
After studying European credit institutions established in the 19th century, Alphonse Desjardins in 1901 came up with an original solution adapted to North America.
In the late 1990s, the number of caisses was reduced from 1275 to 800.
Between 2008 and 2010, total assets at Desjardins Group grew over 15% from C$151.9 billion (when it ranked sixth in Canada and first in Quebec among financial institutions ahead of the National Bank of Canada) to over $175 billion in 2010. In 2006, it had 6,500 elected and volunteer officers and employed over 40,000 people and gave its members $483 million in patronage allocations and $64 million in donations, sponsorships and academic scholarships. Most of the latter sum was used on regional economic development and health programs as well. In that same year, in March 2008, the election of Monique Leroux at the head of the group marked the history of Canada by becoming the “Canada’s largest company headed by a woman”.
In December 2010, it acquired the 121 offices and 500,000 customers of Western Financial for $443 million giving it a presence in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
In 2011, Desjardins Credit Union in Ontario merged with Meridian Credit Union.
In 2014, Desjardins Group acquired the Canadian operations of U.S.-based insurance giant State Farm. The policies were transferred to be underwritten by Desjardins Insuranceon January 1, 2015. The State Farm brand continued to be used for agents and marketing until 2018.
On January 3, 2017, Desjardins Group announced the closing of the sale of its pet health insurance company, Western Financial Insurance Company to Economical Mutual Insurance Company. Western Financial Insurance Company and its flagship brand, Petsecure were purchased in 2011 as part of the Western Financial Group deal.
On July 5, 2017, Trimont Financial, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Wawanessa Mutual Insurance Company, announced the completion of its purchase of the remainder of Western Financial Group from Desjardins Group for $775 million. Included in the sale were Western Financial Group’s Brokerage Network, Western Financial Group Insurance Solutions, and Western Life Assurance.
In 2018, State Farm Canada was officially rebranded to Desjardins Insurance through Desjardins Insurance Agents. The whole transition will be completed by December 31 in 2019.
2019 Data Breach
On June 20, 2019, Desjardins Group reported a data breach involving personal data of 2.7 million individual users and 173,000 businesses, more than 40% of Quebec-based credit union’s clients and members. The security breach, detected in December 2018, was not linked to a direct cyber attack, but the result of a corporate employee. The data leaked was assembled over a certain period of time after unauthorized access to banking systems and copied customer data. Police investigation is still ongoing.
Credit agency ratings
As of September 2017, Desjardins long-term debt is rated Aa2 by Moody’s, A+ by S&P, AA by DBRS, and AA- by Fitch. S&P and Fitch considered the company’s outlook “stable,” while Moody’s and DBRS rated it “negative.”
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- ^Barbara Shecter and John Greenwood (1 March 2011). “Meridian, Desjardins agree to merger”. National Post. financialpost.com. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
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- ^“Mouvement des Caisses Desjardins — Company History”. www.company-histories.com. Retrieved 2018-06-22.
- ^“Desjardins says info for 2.9M members shared outside of organization”. www.ctvnews.ca. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
- ^“Personal data of 2.7 million people leaked from Desjardins”. www.cbc.ca. Retrieved 2019-06-20.