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Desjardins Group CEO Monique Leroux

Tory Zimmerman/Tory Zimmerman/The Globe and Mail

Karl Moore: This is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, Talking Management for The Globe and Mail. Today I am delighted to speak to Monique Leroux who is the chairman and CEO of the Desjardins Group, one of the largest co-operatives in the world.

Good afternoon, Monique.

Monique Leroux: Good afternoon.

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KM: One of the things that is interesting, social media is just where young people are these days. How do you see social media impacting your business, financial services business?

ML: I think that there will be major impacts. It is difficult to say right now where we will be in five or 10 years, but I believe that social networks, Internet, mobile networks, will change the way the financial services industry will be in the coming years. In fact, we have put together working teams of different people, young people, people with more experience and people in networking, people in technology, people who are good with, I would say, marketing strategies, and psychologists together to think about it because I don't think that the issues are really technology, but how we can use technology to provide better services to members and clients. The other thing that is interesting is that at the basis la caisse was a sort of social network, a physical social network, with people in the same community. The key question now, I think, for us is to see how we can take this concept and push it forward using technology and social networking. So we have that in the works.

KM: When you think about it Lévis, which is a small town outside of Quebec City, was all about the people who lived there, were born there, grew up there and died there, whereas today social networking, particularly in a big city like Montreal or Quebec City, it's quite different…

ML: Absolutely.

KM: So that's the sort of thing we are wrestling with.

ML: Yes, but at the end of the day at that point when the caisse was created, the affinity of people was local and essentially around the caisse. Right now, you can have the same concept of affinity but in a way that is defined on a global basis. So, conceptually, you have a community of interest and of people sharing something in common. So that is, I would say, one of the challenges we will be working on as we move forward.

KM: This has been Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, Talking Management for The Globe and Mail.

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