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Retirements bring changes at Desjardins and Sun Life

By Donna Glasgow | August 19 2011 07:46PM

Executive retirements have prompted two Canadian insurers to announce changes to their senior management.

Desjardins Financial Security (DFS) has recently appointed Denis Berthiaume as chief operating officer. This is in addition to his role as senior vice-president and general manager of wealth management and individual insurance.

He succeeds Richard Fortier, who will retire after he helps with the transition of his responsibilities. Mr. Fortier will also continue to do some advocacy work for Desjardins. André Chapleau, director of media relations for the Desjardins Group, notes that the internal memo announcing the change does not give an official retirement date, but says that it will likely take place later this year.

Mr. Berthiaume has rearranged the vice-presidential job profile in order to better shoulder his new responsibilities. The senior vice-president oversees 5000 people as well as the activities of Desjardin’s Caissassurance unit. Mr. Chapleau says that there have been no additions or cuts, but that there will be some change in roles.

At Sun Life Financial, Donald Stewart is retiring, leaving both his position as CEO and as Sun Life board member. Dean Connor, the insurer’s chief operating officer, has been appointed as his replacement. A press release issued on July 4 says that Connor will work closely with Stewart until his official retirement date on November 30.

“I am very pleased that Dean is succeeding me,” says Mr. Stewart. “His proven leadership experience and knowledge of our diverse business operations make him the right choice to lead Sun Life going forward. I have great confidence in his abilities.”

Mr. Connor has held several leadership positions with Sun Life since he joined the insurer in 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Connor worked in the group pension and benefits business.

Sun also announced that James Sutcliffe will succeed Ronald Osborne as chairman of the company’s board of directors effective December 1, 2011. Mr. Osborne has served on the board since 1989, and will be retiring at the 2012 annual meeting.

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