Montreal-based Desjardins Group and Surrey, B.C.-based Coast Capital Savings Credit Union have entered into an agreement to share expertise in products and services. The partnership was announced at Desjardins Group’s Annual General Meeting on Friday.

The partnership will allow the two co-operatives to share expertise in areas such as product manufacturing, distribution, strategy development and marketing. The firms already have a history of partnering together, says Tracy Redies, CEO of Coast Capital, as Desjardins provides Coast Capital with credit card back office support.

For Redies, there are a few reasons why the firm’s growing partnership with Desjardins works. “We both really believe in the co-operative financial services model, number one,” she says.

“Number two we both believe that we have to grow our businesses. And number three, we have business synergies, with us being strong in Western Canada, them being strong in product manufacturing, wealth management, insurance etc.”

The agreement is in keeping with Desjardins’ current strategy of building its presence outside of Quebec through partnerships.

Desjardins: Beyond Quebec

“It’s been no secret that we’ve wanted to be a catalyst to create greater relations and contacts in the Canadian co-op field,” says Christiane Bergevin, executive vice president, strategic partnerships, Desjardins. Fostering corporate agreements with other co-ops, such as Coast Capital, she says, provides Desjardins and its partners with a framework to work on product or marketing initiatives.

With 505,000 customers, Coast Capital is the largest Canadian credit union in terms of membership and, like Desjardins, Redies hopes the partnership will help the co-op to grow past its provincial borders. Says Redies: “We have aspirations to go outside the province of B.C. at some point in time.”