Desjardins Insurance will be renewing its financial planning services and technology platforms throughout its independent distribution networks across Canada, including Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network (DFSIN), SFL in Quebec and Desjardins Financial Security Investment (DFSI). Centres could be merged, especially in large urban areas.
Michael Rogers, the new vice-president of sales and distribution networks for Desjardins Insurance, said in an interview with The Insurance and Investment Journal that a survey of advisors from the independent networks revealed the desire for an expansion and a renewal of the range of services. As part of this renewal, advisors called for greater access to financial and tax planning expertise.
Everything is under discussion
Everything is currently under discussion, Rogers said. He says renewal is a normal process and that the company’s competitors are doing the same thing. He adds that presently Desjardins Insurance is looking at the best ways to get the service offering and positioning right. It has been sharing its strategic reflection with its advisors, on a regional basis, for over a year. In June, the company communicated its objectives to the network, Rogers said.
With respect to products, he underlined that the networks remain strongly committed to complete independence. In addition to Desjardins Insurance products, they offer the products of 21 other insurers.
Mergers and closures
As for mergers and closures, Rogers said it is possible to group together centres in order to expand the service offering, while maintaining proximity to clients and furthering growth. In fact, he says he wants to double the size of the DFSIN network.
Rogers says the restructuring may affect certain centres opened by the network in major urban areas outside Quebec. DFSIN serves a territory that includes many large urban centres and a very diverse market.
Proximity and accessibility
Rogers said they are looking at how to maintain proximity to customers when restructuring. Clienteles must be considered before deciding on a merger and advisors also have a say, he says. If mergers occur, DFSIN must ensure that the advisors have the same level of service, whether it's in a large city or small. Advisors must also have the same level of access to support such as tax expertise, he says.
“The independent advisory networks are important for us and we want to continue working with them,” adds Rogers.
Adoption of new back-office system
The company is also revamping its offering of technology platforms to support its business development. One of the first steps in this direction is the recent adoption of Bluesun's WealthServ back-office system for insurance and funds. In addition, Desjardins Insurance has recently set up a platform for an electronic application. The brand image and recognition programs will also be part of the renewal.