Close to 700 people from the business community gathered November 5 to hear Desjardins Group president and CEO Guy Cormier speak at a Chamber lunchtime conference. Mr. Cormier discussed the issue of data governance and shared his thinking on the economic situation. He took an optimistic view of the ability of the Quebec and Canadian economies to deal with the risks of a slowdown on the international scene. Here is a look back at the three main themes of Guy Cormier’s speech before the Chamber.
Data security: everyone’s concern
After taking stock of the situation affecting Desjardins, Guy Cormier presented new measures the cooperative has taken to reinforce member protection. He noted the enhancement of the protection program for members, who can track information on the AccèsD platform and benefit from risk detection measures and alerts.
Using his organization as a specific case, he held that Desjardins’ situation demonstrates the importance for businesses to be proactive in protecting the personal data of clients, employees and partners, particularly given the advances in 5G, the Internet of things and artificial intelligence. “Data will be the most strategic resource in tomorrow’s economy,” he said.
He added that Desjardins has put together a group of experts whose mandate is to formulate best practices in data protection and innovation. Desjardins will release an in-depth report about data governance in the first quarter of 2020. This report will offer information and tools on this important issue for three target groups: consumers, businesses and governments.
A dynamic economy, but one that needs to be ready for the risk of a slowdown
Mr. Cormier sent a clear message that Montréal is the Canadian city with the strongest economic growth: “Right now I am addressing the most dynamic business community in the country.” He explained that sector diversity, investor confidence, healthy public finances and the vitality of the real estate sector enable Montréal to distinguish itself.
However, he added that clouds are forming, and the global slowdown is casting a shadow over the economic situation. As a result, the Trudeau government faces a number of challenges:
- Ensuring the stability of a minority government in a highly uncertain global context;
- Rallying companies around the decarbonization of the economy and facilitating the energy transition;
- Controlling public finances and accelerating investment in infrastructure and information technology.
Stand out by increasing investment in Quebec
To prepare for a possible slowdown, the Desjardins strategy is to invest more in Quebec businesses.
Desjardins plans to triple the number of partner businesses and double its investment capital in the next four years. These investments reflect the institution’s intention to support the productivity, internationalization and digital shift of Quebec businesses.
He pointed out that a trans-Atlantic fund to enable local companies to strike out internationally was recently introduced by Desjardins, as was Luge Capital, a new fund for fintech and artificial intelligence in the financial services sector.
Mr. Cormier concluded by asserting that true leaders are those who turn challenges into opportunities, and it is up to Montréal and Quebec to lay the groundwork for the challenges on the horizon.