Standard Life and Desjardins Financial Security Conclude Agreement to Transfer Ownership of Performa Financial Group

MONTREAL, March 9, 2006 – Standard Life Financial Inc. and Desjardins Financial Security announced today that they have entered into an agreement for the sale of the distribution network of Performa Financial Group Limited, a mutual fund dealership, to Optifund Investments Inc., a subsidiary of Desjardins Financial Security. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals.

Performa Financial Group is a mutual fund dealership with assets under administration totaling $1.3 billion. Over 90% of the Company’s assets are located outside Qu�bec. Performa’s head office is located in Montr�al. In addition, it has offices in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, and a network of fifteen independent branches to which approximately 125 advisors are affiliated.

The President and Chief Operating Officer of Desjardins Financial Security, Mr. Fran�ois Joly, indicated that the transaction is consistent with the strategic plan of the Desjardins Group. “This acquisition is in line with Desjardins Financial Security’s strategy of strengthening its growth outside Qu�bec.” He added, “Desjardins Financial Security wants to double its market share outside Qu�bec. The transaction we are announcing today will help us reach that objective and enable us to consolidate our position as one of the top financial services providers in Canada.”

For Mr. Joseph Iannicelli, President of Standard Life Financial Inc., “With this transaction Standard Life focuses on core activities where we see significant growth opportunities: wealth and risk management, encompassing a wide range of insurance, investment and retirement products offered on a retail and group basis. We are delighted with this transaction, which we believe offers good value for Standard Life,” he said. “I want to take this opportunity to particularly thank Mr. Andy Mitchell, Performa’s President, for his contributions and leadership and for the excellent support of his senior management team. Mr. Mitchell will pursue other career interests,” he concluded.

Mr. Denis Berthiaume, Senior Vice-President, Individual Insurance at Desjardins Financial Security, said he was very optimistic about the coming months. “With the acquisition of this mutual fund dealership’s distribution network and the support of its 125 experienced advisors who know their markets and clients very well, we should be able to strengthen our capacity to distribute financial products and services outside Qu�bec.”

Mr. Alain Brunet, Standard Life’s Senior Vice-President, Retail Markets, indicated that, “Standard Life will work closely with Optifund Investments Inc. to ensure a smooth transition for Performa’s employees across Canada as well as for its clients and distributors.”

About Desjardins Financial Security

Desjardins Financial Security, a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada, specializes in life and health insurance, as well as savings products and services. Every day over 5 million Canadians rely on Desjardins Financial Security to ensure their financial security. The Company, which employs 3,659 people and has over $17 billion in assets under management, distributes its products and services through several distribution channels, including the 32 financial centres of the LFS Laurentian Financial Services and Services financiers SFL network, which has over 1,100 affiliated representatives across Canada. Optifund Investments Inc., a mutual funds dealership registered in all Canadian provinces, has assets over $3,8 billion. Desjardins Financial Security has offices in several cities across the country including Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montr�al, Qu�bec City, L�vis and Halifax.

About Standard Life

The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada and its affiliated companies have $36.1 billion in assets under management (at September 30, 2005) and offer a wide range of financial products and services to over 1.28 million individuals, including group insurance and pension plan members. Products and services include group savings and retirement, group insurance, individual life insurance, savings and retirement, mutual funds and portfolio management. Total premium income and deposits reached $5.2 billion in 2005. (