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The Canadian cooperative financial world. Interview with Lucia Baldino

The Canadian cooperative financial world. Interview with Lucia Baldino

At the seminar “Québec business destination” to be held on February 28th in Milan, the Centro Studi Italia-Canada took the opportunity to analyze the theme of the Canadian financial system through the experience of Lucia Baldino, Managing Director of the Desjardins Representative Office (Europe), which will provide important indications in the panel of the seminar dedicated to financial services. Desjardins Group is Canada's leading cooperative financial group and the fourth most secure financial institution in North America, according to Global Finance magazine.
The World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Competitiveness Report once again ranked the Canadian banking system as the most solid banking system in the world. As the primary actors of the Canadian finance sector, the banks support millions of clients, including individuals, SMEs, large corporations, governments, institutional investors and non-profit organizations, by offering a comprehensive range of banking and financial services and investment solutions.

But what are the advantages of doing business with a cooperative financial institution such as Desjardins, considered as an example world-wide?
Unlike banks, cooperative financial institutions offer a combination of solidarity, participation, responsibility and proximity. At Desjardins, we want to be everyone’s #1 choice. We don’t just work to make a profit. For example, we’ve created a $100 million development fund for Québec and Ontario, to support and promote initiatives and projects in line with Desjardins Group’s socioeconomic mission: entrepreneurship, education, social responsibility, sustainable development and people management in a range of sectors.

Desjardins set up shop in Europe in 2012to support businesses and individuals who have dealings on both sides of the Atlantic. In your European office, you meet with European companies that want to tap in to the Canadian market. What do businesses need to ensure their success?
Getting established, growing and doing business in North America requires careful preparation. Taking on an entrepreneurial project of this size means turning to organizations that have the experience and expertise to assist European businesses in Canada. Organizations that know all aspects of the country: banking, legal, tax, economic, historic and geographic. The financial aspect is always at the centre of activities. The company needs to identify the financial institutions that can provide an accurate overview of the Canadian market in addition to supporting it through the planning and implementation stages of their export activities or operations. Businesses that want to take this journey must be determined and ready to adapt.

What are the advantages of choosing Desjardins as a financial partner in Canada?
Desjardins is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and its strength lies in its history. We just marked our 112th anniversary of our founding. That’s 112 years of cooperative values and honing our expertise. We are the Canadian financial institution with the most extensive network in Québec, but we also have head offices in Ontario, New Brunswick and the U.S. With 10 branches serving Montreal’s Italian community, businesses have access to a wide variety of services in English, French and Italian.

What banking and financial services are available to Italian businesses interested in operating or investing in Canada?
These days, the dialogue between financial institution and business is key to a stable, sustainable relationship in which both parties work side-by-side not only for credit purposes, but also so that businesses receive the support they need to conquer foreign markets. Businesses need to be able to put their trust in strong financial institutions that they consider as true partners for their development projects at home or abroad. What’s more, the financial institution must understand the client’s plan to expand internationally, provide the right advice to improve on it and to assign a fair credit score, beyond traditional guarantees.
Some of our banking partners in Italy, for example, offer an internationalization service that provides businesses with professional support to build their international expansion plan. In addition to providing traditional banking services, in recent years, the service has supported entrepreneurial initiatives in Canada and B2B meetings between Canadians and Italians.
Banks are fully aware of the magnitude and complexity of a market like Canada’s and the option of working with a Canadian financial institution, operating in its own country, can provide our Italian clients with the all the support they need.
In addition to commercial financing operations, we’ve opened special channels to manage payments and deposits in Canadian dollars and Euros, to facilitate the exchange of business information on reciprocal clients (in compliance with current privacy and information confidentiality regulations), to make it easier for Italian businesses to obtain guarantees for their Canadian operations and to open accounts in Canada.

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