What is Caisse Populaire?

A caisse populaire is a Canadian financial institution that is owned and controlled by its members rather than shareholders. It is essentially a credit union. Most are in Quebec.

How Does Caisse Populaire Work?

The members of the caisse populaire pool their deposits and provide loans and other financial services to each other. The services offered by a caisse populaire include a wide range of financial services.

A caisse populaire’s fees, interest rates and levels of service are highly responsive to the needs of its members. Generally, they offer lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on savings accounts and certificates of deposit.

Caisse populaires may be formed among any group of members who have a common interest -- usually community groups or employees of a particular organization. The board members of the credit unions are usually volunteers. Caisse populaires are generally not-for-profit, so often profits are shared by members.

Why Does Caisse Populaire Matter?

Caisse populaires offer most of the same services as banks, but differ in that individual members are owners and there are generally less assets under management. Because caisse populaires are usually considerably smaller than banks, they are able to offer more personalized advisory services to their members and they may offer lower cost banking service.