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Desjardins Group will close 30% of its service points and ATMs by December 31, 2026.

Closure of 30% of service points at Desjardins

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The migration of customers to online services and card payments has caused traffic in branches and ATMs to drop.

  • Stéphane Bordeleau (View profile)Stéphane Bordeleau

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At a time when online services, cards and mobile phones are becoming the main modes of financial transactions, Desjardins Group is reducing its branch service offering and the number of its ATMs.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">After having already closed several dozen service points and ATMs since 2022, Desjardins Group this time plans to reduce their number by 30% by the 31st December 2026.

The news, first revealed in the pages of the daily Le Soleil, was confirmed this morning by Radio-Canada.

At the end of 2023, Desjardins operated 669 service centers and 1,559 automated teller machines. This means that 30% of these two modes of service will be cut over the next three years. This represents the closure of more or less 200 service centers and 460 ATMs across the territory served by Desjardins.

In an interview on the show Tout un matin, the first vice-president, Personal Services of Desjardins Group, Nathalie Larue explained that this decision stems from an analysis carried out by the credit unions of the use of their counter services and their ATMs both locally and regionally.

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At the end of 2023, counter services only represented 1% of transaction volume at Desjardins. Counters, for their part, only represented 3%, according to the financial institution.

Our members are increasingly interacting with Desjardins via digital solutions. We saw significant increases during the pandemic period, although this was a trend that had been going on for several years.

A quote from Nathalie Larue, Senior Vice-President, Personal Services, Desjardins Group

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Our members have been doing more and more of their day-to-day transactions with digital platforms for a long time now, underlines Nathalie Larue. And what we see now are expectations that are being raised on their part to be able to do activities with us that are more complex, completely online, so Desjardins is investing in the evolution of these digital solutions.

The increase in demand from Desjardins customers for online appointments rather than in-branch appointments also weighs in the balance, adds Ms. Larue. We do that in our daily lives, you and I, so it's the same thing [for customers].

Desjardins intends to remain very present, but to adjust its presence according to the expectations of its members.

A quote from Nathalie Larue, first vice-president, Services to individuals, Mouvement Desjardins

As for the closures as such, Desjardins has not established a list of service centers and ATMs that will be closed. Each decision will fall to the boards of directors of the funds who will each make an announcement over the coming months, at the end of their reflection and their assessment of needs.

It is not mathematical logic, it is more the use of information on consumer behavior. When Desjardins withdraws either a service center or an ATM, it is because we see that its use really no longer justifies its maintenance, specifies Nathalie Larue.

However, these service point closures will be a significant change for many elderly people who still use counter services at credit unions, where the assistance of staff is often useful to them.

These closures will obviously have an impact on people who use in-person services at these service centers.< /p>A quote from Réseau FADOQ

It’s also a shame, because these service centers contribute to the economic vitality of local communities. This is a business decision, deplores the Fédération de l'Âge d'Or du Québec (FADOQ).

The Federation is, however, delighted that Desjardins promises to support its members in the changes that are coming.

At Réseau FADOQ, we have been offering our members workshops for several years to allow them to familiarize themselves with new information and communication technologies as well as advice and tips to help them become more enlightened digital citizens, recalls the Federation.

Although they are quite easy to find in large urban regions, service points and counters are however much rarer in the regions, where their importance often goes beyond financial services to the extent that, like #x27;church, the post office, the gas station and the grocery store, the credit union plays an important role in the vitality and quality of life of small communities.

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Like several other service points, the one in Saint-Denis-de-Brompton will stop offering an ATM next March 8.

This is particularly the case in Estrie, where around twenty service points will be affected by closures, including 11 ATMs located in small communities. Some of these cities will lose their only ATM and, at the same time, the only way to obtain cash in their territory.

This is no small thing when you think that a simple power outage can paralyze all electronic commerce of a sector for several days, and then only cash remains to trade goods and services.

In Mauricie, at least six communities located in the territory of the Desjardins Mékinac-Les Chenaux fund will lose their ATM by the end of February. Added to this is the closure of the Saint-Maurice Service Center.

Questioned in the corridors of the National Assembly about Desjardins' decision, the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, conceded that it is more difficult for the regions, but that he does not believe that Desjardins withdraws from the regions.

I trust them, he said. They are aware of that. When you make difficult decisions as a company, you must take into account all stakeholders: the community, employees, members, the interests of Desjardins, this is not an easy issue.

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Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard.

It’s part of their business vision. They have always been present in the region and that will continue.

A quote from Eric Girard, Minister of Finance of Quebec

For David Dupuis, head of undergraduate programs in economics at the School of Management of the University of Sherbrooke, the current thinking at Desjardins on customer service is far from being underway only in this institution.

It's a sign of the times. […] What we are observing today is a drop in demand for this type of service, and Desjardins is simply reacting by wanting to protect its margins a little, explained the expert on the airwaves of HERE RDI. And this is not exclusive to the banking sector, he adds.

More and more, there are reflections beginning in the retail sector. The way consumers will access their goods now, often via the Internet, will mean that retail service will have to transform.

A quote from David Dupuis, head of undergraduate economics programs at the 'School of Management of the University of Sherbrooke

What is really sad here is for the users who still used the famous [account] booklet. That said, do we know a lot about them? I think that's the question.

Yesterday, the Desjardins representative told us that in certain places, we were literally going to contact them by telephoned customers who appeared to be most affected. For a company to do that, in my opinion, we are in an environment where there are very, very few customers that it reaches, adds Mr. Dupuis.

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