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Yvon Charest (pictured in 2010) is set to retire in September and pass the reins over to chief operating officer Denis Ricard.

Francis Vachon/The Globe and Mail

After 18 years as president and chief executive officer of iA Financial Group, industry veteran Yvon Charest is set to retire in September and pass the reins over to chief operating officer Denis Ricard.

The company announced on Tuesday that effective Sept. 1, Mr. Ricard will be appointed the new president and CEO. Mr. Charest, who has been with the organization for almost 40 years, will stay with the firm until Jan. 1, 2019, to assure a seamless transition.

“During [Mr. Charest’s] tenure as CEO, the organization has grown and matured into a leading financial-services company in Canada with a reputation that is second to none,” Jocelyne Bourgon, chair of the board of directors, said in a statement.

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“He has instilled a rich culture of outperformance built on respect, transparency and disciplined decision-making, while maintaining a long-term view on business strategy, talent development and shareholder value creation. Through his leadership over the years, he has proven time and time again that it is possible to deliver solid results without prejudice to the corporate values or the capital of an organization.”

Over the years, Mr. Charest has been vocal about his goal to increase the company’s distribution network across Canada and in 2014 announced the company would devote at least $500-million toward expansion.

In 2009, Mr. Charest commented on the importance of expanding outside Quebec, stating that while 57 per cent of iA’s operations are outside of the province, he wanted to continue to push that number higher.

Since then, the investment giant, which manages and administers approximately $169.7-billion in assets, has been true to its word, acquiring more than a dozen independent firms, including mutual-fund dealers, securities brokerage firms and insurance agencies. Today, 62 per cent of iA’s operations are outside the province of Quebec.

Ealier this year, the firm scooped up PPI Management Inc., one of the country’s largest managing general agencies supporting more than 3,000 independent insurance advisers across Canada. Last summer, iA Financial completed the acquisition of HollisWealth from Bank of Nova Scotia, propelling iA to become one of the largest non-bank wealth-management firms in Canada.

The growth plans are expected to continue under the leadership of Mr. Ricard, who also has had a long-standing career with the firm. An actuary by training, Mr. Ricard joined iA Financial Group in 1985. Over the past 33 years, he has assumed various roles within the organization including chief actuary, senior vice-president of business development and executive vice-president of individual insurance and annuities.

“Our strategy is to grow the organization both organically and through acquisitions,” Mr. Ricard said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail. “We will maintain our initiatives in terms of acquisitions to continue strengthening our operations in Canada and the United States.”

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