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Bruno Riverin, an architect of cooperative financing

November 9, 2022

A prominent figure in the Quebec and Canadian financial world, Bruno Riverin has received the Ordre du Mérite coopératif et mutualiste québécois. The Desjardins Group alumnus received the honour posthumously at the annual gala of the Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité (CQCM) held on October 21 in Lévis.

Christina Riverin accepted the honour on behalf of her father, who passed away in 2006. "It was very moving for our family and for his former colleagues at the gala to look back on my father's life," said Christina, who runs the communication & marketing agency Nextmoov. "He contributed a lot to the Quebec economy." 

Over the course of his career, Bruno Riverin played a significant role in the development of cooperatives and the growth of many companies that have become leaders in their industry.

He started working at Desjardins in 1977, where he was instrumental in establishing the Caisse centrale Desjardins, Desjardins Group's financial arm at the national and international level. He left the Caisse centrale Desjardins in 1987 to chair and manage the Montreal Exchange before returning to Desjardins 7 years later as head of Investissement Desjardins (known today as Desjardins Capital). Under Bruno's leadership, Desjardins Capital created no fewer than 6 regional investment funds to help many small and medium-sized businesses in Quebec access venture capital and achieve their plans for growth.

He was also one of the architects behind Capital régional et coopératif Desjardins (CRCD), which provides financing to cooperatives and businesses all across Quebec.

An entrepreneur at heart

"My father never considered himself an entrepreneur, but he certainly had an entrepreneurial spirit," said Christina. "He also had an adventurous side. When he took over the Caisse centrale Desjardins, there was a lot to do. London, Paris, Tokyo ... He travelled the world to open international financial markets to Desjardins."

Bruno studied electrical engineering at Université Laval before switching to the world of finance, where he found the challenges he was looking for. "He used to say engineering wasn't exciting enough," Christina said. "He started his career at a financial institution in Toronto. The experience made a profound impression on him. It's where he realized how differently English- and French-speaking people were treated in finance. The experience prompted him to pursue his education, first getting an MBA and then a master's degree in international finance from Université de Paris. It was in the financial industry that he really came into his own."

What motivated him? "Serving others," said Christina, without missing a beat. "He helped so many entrepreneurs grow their businesses through Desjardins Capital. Working with people, whether business owners or members of his team, was what inspired him."

Bruno's love for Desjardins ran deep. "He was very happy at Desjardins—the organization gave him a lot. What he accomplished there hasn't been forgotten, even 16 years on. He made an impression on a lot of people. He was ahead of his time as a manager and supported promoting women to leadership roles. I know that his name lives on at Desjardins," said Christina with a tear in her eye.

By making him a member of the Ordre du Mérite coopératif et mutualiste québécois, the CQCM recognizes the legacy left by financier-cooperator Bruno Riverin.