How cooperatives work

Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada. It comprises a network of caisses and Desjardins Business centres in Quebec and Ontario, and some 20 subsidiary companies in life and general insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management, many of which are active across the country.

Every caisse is a financial services cooperative that serves and protects the interests of its members. Desjardins business centres are owned by the caisses in the area and together, they meet the needs of the members in their community.

Subsidiaries, caisses and Desjardins Business centres offer a full range of financial products and services to nearly 6 million members and clients a full range of financial products and services.

Every day, the caisses help their members take their financial future into their own hands and help change things in their community.

Are you a caisse member? If so, then you and your fellow-members are also owners. As members, you adhere to the values of solidarity and mutual aid that are the foundation of cooperation. Furthermore, to ensure that your caisse is financially sound, you get the financial services you need. You can also:

  • express your point of view by taking part in the annual general meeting
  • file your candidacy for election to the position of director
  • receive member dividends when caisse profitability permits

The caisse is a democracy

A caisse operates on the "one member, one vote" principle. This means that your vote at the Annual General Meeting carries the same weight as anyone else's. This also means that it's impossible to take control of a cooperative, which could happen in a company if the major shareholder decides to do so.

The caisse Annual General Meeting

The caisse Annual General Meeting is called once a year, some time after the end of the financial year. A Special General Meeting may also be called to discuss important matters such as caisse mergers or new by-laws.

Members can also contribute directly to caisse orientations. For example, they may use the annual general meeting as an opportunity to propose the creation of a fund in support of community projects. Or, they may inform others about a local problem if they think the caisse has a solution or a way to support citizens in their efforts to correct the problem. Members may also express their opinions about caisse services (reception, information, courtesy or business hours).

Generally, at the annual or extraordinary general meeting, members:

  • adopt or change caisse by-laws
  • decide to divide surplus earnings among the general reserve, members and the community development fund
  • approve or reject caisse mergers
  • elect directors to the Board of Directors

Click Where to find us to go to your caisse website to find out when it will be holding its Annual General Meeting.

You too can become a caisse director!

If you would like to make a contribution to the democratic life of your caisse, there may be an director position that interests you. Becoming a caisse director is a terrific way to participate in the socio-economic development of your community and to learn about the financial and cooperative worlds.

Learn more about elected directors.

The caisses may pay member dividends to members

If caisse operations are profitable, the caisse will realize a surplus that is paid out to members. These surplus funds are also called "member dividends." The members of a caisse may also decide to allocate a portion or even all of the available surplus to one or several group projects. For example, members of several caisses have already spent considerable amounts on job creation projects, on supporting young businesses, on the promotion of local products and on support systems for people in crises.

Learn more about member dividends.

Cooperative objectives

As a financial services cooperative, your Desjardins caisse has objectives that make it very different from other financial institutions.

  • Providing, in the best possible conditions, the financial advice and services that members need.
  • Contributing to the cooperative, economic and financial education of members, that is to provide them with a way to achieve independence.
  • Promoting and supporting community development

Profitability for a different purpose

Every enterprise has to turn a profit and Desjardins Group also has to follow market prices and conditions. However, the caisses always use their profits to better serve their members, and not for the good of a select few shareholders. Desjardins Group seeks to foster human development and help people improve their quality of life.

Use your caisse's services

You're co-owner of a financial services cooperative guided by values, principles and a sense of responsibility.

For a caisse, meeting its objectives means that it can continue to protect member interests and provide the best possible services. This also means that it can continue to promote values like equality and solidarity, all the while providing the community and citizens with the tools they need to take their future in hand and be autonomous. This philosophy is also shared by Desjardins Group subsidiaries.

Your caisse plays a key role in the economic and social development of your region. When you look to your caisse to get the financial services you need, you are also contributing to its financial well-being and helping it to meet its profitability objectives.

Exclusive Member Advantages

You have a say in how your caisse is run and how it contributes to the community.

Take part in your caisse's democratic life

Ask questions about caisse activities and performance and share your point of view. Exercise your right to vote to adopt or amend caisse by-laws, and decide what to do with surplus earnings. Elect directors to the Board of Directors. How? By participating in your caisse's Annual General Meeting.

Click Where to find us to go to your caisse's website to find out when it will be holding its.

Become an elected director or young intern director

This is a great way to represent members of your community and contribute to caisse performance.

Find out more about elected directors and young intern directors.

Share your opinion on Desjardins products and services

The Desjardins Web Panel is a group of Desjardins clients and members who agree to take part in online surveys on various subjects. It gives you the opportunity to share your opinion and influence the development of products and services designed for you. Moreover, you can test and comment on new products and services that could be offered to you.

Find out more about the Desjardins Web Panel.

Exclusive Member Advantages

What are they?

Member dividends are paid to members under certain conditions at the end of the fiscal year. The money comes from the caisse's surplus earnings and is "returned" to the member-owners.

Why pay member dividends? As a financial services cooperative, the caisse is guided by cooperative principles, illustrated by the sharing of surplus earnings.

When member dividends are paid, the amount you receive is proportional to your volume of business with the caisse during the year. In other words, the more products and services you use, the better it is for you!

Products and services that earn member dividends

Member dividends are calculated on mortgages, personal loans, term savings deposits and deferred tax savings plans. And, Desjardins Funds are included as well.

Take part in caisse decisions

Check the list of frequently asked questions about Member dividends (FAQ).

There are 3 conditions for a caisse to award a member dividends:

You have to have been a caisse member during the financial year to receive member dividends. You may become a member by buying a $5 share when you open your account. This gives you the right to attend Annual General Meetings and based on the "one person, one vote" rule, elect directors and participate in other decisions such as the distribution of surplus earnings and, if applicable, member dividends.

There are 2 types of member dividends:

  • Individual member dividends are paid to each individual or business member in proportion to their use of their cooperative's products and services.
  • Collective member dividends are paid into a fund in order to support local community projects.

Every year, Desjardins Group holds its Annual General Meetings. All publicly available documentation from the event is posted on the Annual General Meetings - This link will open in a new window. page.

What is a Desjardins Group Congress of Elected Directors?

A Desjardins Congress takes place every 4 to 5 years. It brings together members delegated by their caisses to discuss major themes that will guide the organization's growth in the years to come.

A Desjardins Congress is an ideal opportunity for the caisses to focus their thoughts on their members' needs and on ways in which they can contribute to the economic and social development of their community.

Who takes part

Congress participants are essentially caisse elected directors.

Each caisse delegates a specific number of participants based on the total number of members it serves. As such, a caisse serving:

  • up to 5,000 members will send 1 delegate
  • between 5,001 to 10,000 members will send 2 delegates
  • between 10,001 to 15,000 members will send 3 delegates
  • between 15,001 to 20,000 members will send 4 delegates
  • between 20,001 to 250,000 members will send 5 delegates
  • over 25,000 members will send 6 delegates to the Congress.

Moreover, each caisse is allowed to send one additional elected director who participates in Congress discussions but cannot vote on proposed orientations.

What themes are discussed

The themes covered during a congress are inspired by the challenges Desjardins Group is facing at the time and the socio-economic context of the period.

Thus, congresses in the 1950s focused primarily on the rapid growth of the caisse network and the need to teach members about savings and inform them about the concept of credit.

The 1960s and 1970s generated debates on the importance of adapting to the needs of the members, modernizing the caisses and expanding the contribution of Desjardins Group to include the economic and social development of communities.

In the 1980s, 1990s and the first part of the current decade, the congresses were the scene of discussions on Desjardins Group's desire to reaffirm its cooperative identity and redefine the role and tasks of caisse directors. There were also talks on restructuring the caisses' support organizations.

The 2009 Congress concentrated primarily on the paths Desjardins should take in order to remain a leader in a changing world.

To learn more, see A Brief History of Past Congresses (PDF, 21 KB) - This link will open in a new window..

The Desjardins Cooperative Institute (DCI) is the Desjardins Group corporate university. The DCI is a hub for development, providing centralized training services to Desjardins directors, managers and employees. By bringing people together through innovative programs and methods, the Institute helps develop leadership, commitment, knowledge, skills and empowerment, all while promoting innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit.


Desjardins Group takes the protection of personal information very seriously. The policy it has adopted to this end establishes the directions and rules that Desjardins Group components set for themselves and abide by with regards to member and client personal information collected, used or disclosed.

The policy explains how Desjardins Group components protect the privacy of personal information as they provide members and clients with financial services. It also describes the principles they apply to protect the privacy of their respective members and clients while operating in Canada both on an inter-provincial or intra-provincial basis.

Code of Ethics

To maintain its reputation for integrity and the confidence of its members, clients, partners, suppliers and the general population, Desjardins has equipped itself with several tools. Among them is the Desjardins Code of Professional Conduct (PDF, 120 KB) - This link will open in a new window..

Learn more

See frequently asked questions about ethics and professional conduct (FAQ).

Sponsorships and donations

Managing sponsorships and donations is one of the ways we carry out our mission.

Diversity and equality

We believe in respecting individuals treating them with courtesy. Read Diversity and equity to find out more.

Exclusive Advantage For Members

Enjoy other member advantages in addition to this product!

See all member advantages for individuals - Cooperative difference.