The merging of Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network centres will take several months. Disparities in systems and practices within the different centres need to be ironed out.
The DFSIN network (SFL in Quebec) is going from 37 to 15 centres across Canada. The number of SFL centres in Quebec is dropping from 16 to 7, while the number of DFSIN centres in the rest of the country will go from 21 to 8.
The merging of the centres is progressing well in Quebec, Michael Rogers, Vice-President Sales and Distribution, Desjardins Insurance, told The Insurance and Investment Journal in an interview. “We will keep the best processes of each of the centres within the new groupings.”
He stated that Desjardins does not plan any other mergers. The SFL centres in Quebec will be merged within the next six to nine months, says Rogers. In the meantime, the centres continue to operate in parallel.
It will take more time to complete the mergers of the DFSIN centres outside Quebec – at least the full year. The reasons for this include greater distances between the centres to be merged. Rogers says the mergers outside Quebec will also involve a greater change of culture. “People from the different centres may not know each other as much as they do in Quebec where the model has been operating for a longer time,” he explained.
No massive departures
Rogers denies that several dissatisfied advisors have left for competitors, because of pressures resulting from the restructuring. “This is not the case. We have recruited people from other competitors.” He added that Desjardins Insurance is committed to respecting independence to attract advisors, but it also respects their independence when they decide to leave.
Rogers underlined that recruitment remains a strength for the distribution network. “We recruit university graduates, but also experienced advisers with large blocks of business.”
He observed that the market for insurance and mutual fund distribution is changing at a fast pace. “We see it with the acquisition of Financial Horizons Group and, more recently, PPI. On our side, we are fortunate to have a network and teams already in place.”
DFSIN advocates independence
A network like DFSIN/SFL is a place where an advisor can grow, adds Rogers. “We have had success with our hybrid model, thanks to our respect for independence. Advisors can sell all of our competitors’ products, whether in insurance or funds.”