LEVIS, Quebec — A shared branching network started in 1967. A credit union with one single CUSO providing all the services and products members need. Banks trying their hardest to mimic the cooperative model but missing the mark.

These are just a few of the characteristics of the Desjardins Group (www.desjardins.com), the largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada. The numbers paint an impressive picture: six million members, $144 billion in assets and the sixth largest financial institution of any kind in Canada. It is the largest private employer in Quebec and has 56% of all branches in the province–the rest are divided among the seven banks there.

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