A live webinar on strategies to better cope with the COVID-19 crisis, held by Développement international Desjardins (DID) on May 5, drew some 223 participants from 27 countries.
Broadcast simultaneously in French, English and Spanish, the webinar first presented measures taken by Desjardins Group that garnered the organization recognition by the United Nations as a responsible financial institution in the context of COVID-19. This recognition was only granted to 3 financial institutions in North America. Réal Bellemare, Senior Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Desjardins Group, and Ann Breault, Vice-President, Operational Risk at Desjardins, both spoke during the event.
Hosted by Gerardo Almaguer, President and Chief Executive Officer of DID, the webinar then featured two DID representatives, who shared lessons learned and areas for reflection based on the organization's experience with crisis situations.
Capital management, digital shift and ongoing communication
For Desjardins, protecting the employees, members and clients was central to the strategy that was adopted to face the crisis. The success factors shared during the webinar included creating a crisis committee and establishing scenarios on which to base decision-making, particularly with regard to liquidity management.
Given the rapidly evolving nature of the situation, Desjardins Group also prioritized ongoing and transparent communication with all stakeholders, including employees, beneficiaries and regulatory authorities.
Inclusive finance sector put to the test
An analysis of the various scenarios adopted around the world reveals a wide disparity in responses to the crisis: while the status quo reigns in some regions, many countries have adopted easing measures with a three to six-month horizon, and some of them have taken measures extending until the end of the year. These measures, which are aimed at protecting beneficiaries, often put significant pressure on financial institutions and do not always include relief measures for them. This can accentuate the negative impact on their portfolios.
The webinar held by DID was an opportunity to highlight the role of the inclusive finance sector in reducing the negative impacts of the crisis. However, it's clear that financial institutions will need to ensure their own survival in order to succeed. Appropriate measures and effective collaboration with regulators and other stakeholders are undoubtedly the first steps in achieving this objective.