Denis Ricard – CEO and philosopher
Yvon Charest's successor is clearly ready to take on new challenges within the Canadian insurance and wealth management company. "The passing of the torch was skillfully planned. Yvon built a spectacular team to help me through this transition", confirms the man who has worked 33 years at iA Financial Group, his first and only employer.
In fact, it was Yvon Charest who hired him when he graduated from Université Laval in 1985. At the time, the young and brilliant actuary – a lecturer at his alma mater from 1991 to 1993 – was also approached by iA Financial Group’s competitors. Denis Ricard admits that ending up at iA Financial Group was a happy circumstance, thanks to an impromptu phone call to Yvon Charest, who was director of the Actuarial Department at the time. "I remember that I told him that he was late starting his annual university recruiting campaign, which expedited my hiring. Lucius Annaeus Seneca said ‘Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity’. Pure talent and hard work mean nothing if the planets do not align", he recognizes.
He is clearly cultured. When he’s not at work, Denis Ricard reads a lot… "and not just about work", he clarifies. A true nature-lover, he tries to spend as much of his free time outdoors - he knows Wapizagonke Lake, in La Mauricie National Park, like the back of his hand, being born and raised in the area. His lifestyle includes a healthy saxophone regimen, an instrument he studied at the music conservatory in Trois-Rivières, and running. "Running helps me de-stress. I solve a lot of problems when I’m training", explains the man who regularly competes in 10 km races.
He believes that seeking balance is essential. "I don’t send emails on weekends, and I don’t expect to receive any. Doing so would be incompatible with the performance culture at iA Financial Group, where success is measured by the goals reached and not by how many hours one spends at work", he notes. This philosophy has allowed him to be there for his four children, who are now between 26 and 33. "Time with my family has always been essential. Our children saw us [my spouse and I] work hard, but they never heard us complain."
His transition to the head of iA Financial Group will be characterized by the emergence of digital strategies in the sale of insurance, a shift that, while well underway within the organization, will continue in the years to come . "We will go from service automation to the anticipation of needs in this sector. Those who gain a foothold are those will be able to predict what clients want", he believes.
"One thing is certain, we will continue to put our clients first. We have to find clients where they are and where they will be more and more, that means online. This is a challenge I’m looking forward to taking on."