Services for entreprises La Fontaine de Tourny, colline Parlementaire, Québec

Key sectors

Insurance and financial services industry

Insurance and financial services industry
Quebec City: insurance hub

When the discussion turns to the main attractions of Quebec City and the surrounding region, people often mention the Chateau Frontenac, the Plains of Abraham and the fortifications of the Old City. But that would be to neglect one of the region’s leading economic stakeholders and best-kept secrets: the insurance and financial services industry!

  • Insurance and financial services development centre (CDASF)
  • 11 major insurance companies are headquartered in the region
  • More than 9,100 jobs (625 created in 2008)
  • Total payroll of CA$450 million
  • 42% of the personal car/homeowners insurance market in Quebec
  • 34% of the life/health insurance and financial services market in Quebec
  • More than CA$32 million paid in municipal taxes
  • More than CA$50 million paid to regional goods and services providers
  • University and college training programs
  • Insurance and financial services research chair (Industrial Alliance)

Who knew that Quebec City compares so favourably to Hartford, Connecticut, the world’s insurance capital? According to Gilles Juneau, general manager of the Insurance and Financial Services Development Centre (CDASF), “Hartford has the largest number of insurance companies of any city in the world.” And what about Quebec City? “Historically speaking, it’s where the major French Canadian insurance companies were founded and developed,” says Mr. Juneau, who is bullish about the industry’s prospects in the region.

Insuring the region

Over the years, 11 insurance companies have decided to establish their headquarters in Quebec City and Lévis, and three of them—Desjardins Financial Security; Industrial Alliance, Insurance and Financial Services; and SSQ Financial Group—rank among Canada’s top ten insurance and financial services companies. Taken together, these 11 companies account for 42% of Quebec’s personal auto and homeowner’s insurance market and 34% of the life and health insurance and financial services market.

Thanks to this impressive degree of concentration, the insurance and financial services industry is the largest private employer in the greater Quebec City region. More than 9,100 people work at the head offices of the abovementioned 11 companies; if distribution networks (brokers, etc.) are included, this figure jumps to 10,000 employees—and looks set to climb rapidly in the coming years.

“We expect to create 3,000 new jobs over the next five years, including 400 jobs in 2009 alone,” says Mr. Juneau. Based on the companies’ internal calculations, these projections tend to be on the conservative side and may well be exceeded, as they were in 2008. Last year, 500 new jobs had been forecast, while 625 new positions ended up being created (and filled) to meet growing demand. In just one year, employment in the industry has grown by 7.4%.

Sustained growth

Clearly, industry growth depends on the availability of qualified workers—a task that is largely carried out by educational institutions around the region.

Since 1953, Laval University has trained more than 2,000 actuaries, 400 of whom work in the Quebec City region. Laval also offers a number of undergraduate programs in line with the needs of the insurance and financial services industry. In the area of research and innovation, Laval University created the Industrial Alliance Chair in Insurance and Financial Services in 1975. The Chair is responsible for promoting research, training and knowledge transfers in areas of interest to the insurance industry. In addition, Laval University recently developed a paid internship program. Institutions such as Sainte Foy and Lauzon colleges, both of which offer programs tailored to industry needs, are also involved in local training efforts.

However, the number of qualified workers may not be enough to meet the needs of the booming insurance and financial services industry, which is stable and sheltered from the aftermath of speculative bubbles. “The business volume of Quebec City-based insurance and financial services companies is growing steadily. They’re aiming to increase their market share by one percentage point every year,” notes Mr. Juneau. Much of this growth may occur outside Quebec, and immediate action is needed to avert a potential shortage of qualified bilingual workers.

In 2007, Quebec City’s insurance and financial services companies created the CDASF to promote the industry among regional economic stakeholders, students and jobseekers. The CDASF is tasked with forging stronger links between insurance companies and regional educational institutions, in addition to promoting career opportunities in the industry, promoting English-language proficiency among current and future employees and transforming the image of the profession! “The insurance industry is not very well known,” explains Mr. Juneau. “And the reality is a far cry from the image we’ve acquired,” he says—with great self-assurance!

Julie Bouchard

Download the document

Our partners

PÔLE Québec Chaudière-Appalaches

1175, Lavigerie avenue, suite 300, Quebec (Quebec), G1V 4P1
Telephone : 418-681-9700 Fax : 418-681-1535

Policies of confidentiality and refunding (in french)