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Desjardins Group is making changes to its executive team as the financial co-operative looks to ramp up efforts to expand its wealth management business across Canada.

Denis Dubois is taking over as executive vice-president in charge of wealth management, as well as the life and health insurance businesses. Mr. Dubois moves from another key role leading the property and casualty insurance arm of Desjardins, which he had held since mid-2016.

Guy Cormier, the chief executive of Desjardins, has made it one of his three key strategic priorities to expand the co-operative’s capabilities in wealth management. Desjardins already has a 50-per-cent stake in Aviso Wealth, a joint venture with a limited partnership composed of other credit unions, and Mr. Cormier has said he’s pleased with the early returns. But he has mused about exploring “other possibilities” for the wealth division in Quebec and across Canada.

Current EVP of wealth management and life and health insurance Gregory Chrispin has left Desjardins. While the division “is doing well in general, we need to accelerate our growth in this sector,” spokesperson Marc-Brian Chamberland said in an e-mail. Despite Mr. Chrispin’s “fine work” leading the division, Desjardins decided a change in leadership was needed and installed Mr. Dubois in the role, Mr. Chamberland added.

Succeeding Mr. Dubois as executive vice-president in charge of property and casualty insurance is Valérie Lavoie, who was most recently a vice-president in charge of member relations. She steps into another high-priority portfolio, as Mr. Cormier expects consolidation in the property and casualty sector and has made it known he intends to safeguard Desjardins’s top-three place in the market, behind Intact Insurance and Aviva Canada Inc.

Three insurance executives – senior-vice president Barbara Bellissimo and vice-presidents of agency sales John Torrens and David Hill – have announced their retirements from Desjardins. All three were formerly executives at State Farm Canada, the Canadian arm of State Farm Life Insurance Co., and joined Desjardins when it acquired State Farm’s Canadian assets in 2015.

Desjardins is in the late stages of an 18-month plan to phase out the State Farm brand, with its rights to the name soon to expire. About 500 State Farm offices across Canada are being rebranded under the Desjardins Insurance name.

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