Ernie Diaz

MIAMI—With 161 stores and counting—including 67 in South Florida—TD Bank is flexing its Canadian banking muscles in Florida. The bank plans to open three more Florida stores in 2014, adding to its $9.37 billion of deposits in the Sunshine State.

We caught up with Ernie Diaz, regional president in Florida, to talk about the Canadian bank’s growth in the state. We also asked him why so many Canadian banks are targeting Florida and how the bank chooses its locations.

GlobeSt.com: What’s so attractive about Florida?

Diaz: Banks in general in the U.S. and certainly TD Bank, see Florida for what it is. Florida has a tremendous amount of opportunity on the deposit side. When you look at some of the MSAs in Florida, particularly the South Florida MSA, the opportunity is substantial. Banks in general in the US, and certainly TD Bank, see Florida for what it is.

Florida is now back to positive GDP and is soon to overshadow New York in terms of population growth. If you couple that with the fact that Florida has a substantial number of small businesses—businesses under $25 million—it makes for a perfect, although competitive, banking opportunity environment.

TD Bank has focused on Florida because it saw an opportunity to take market share. As you well know we’ve been through a very difficult time in this country. TD Bank was in the US at the right time. Florida was a natural market for it to expand into.

Couple that with the fact that we have so many Canadians that either spend a significant amount of time in Florida—they have have a second homes or a businesses or they’ve been buying real estate—and you can see how it makes for a perfect opportunity for TD bank to capitalize on that and provide service to that customer base.

GlobeSt.com: How has TD Bank been able to grow so rapidly in Florida?

Diaz: We have a model that is customer-centric and focuses on convenience. That puts us at a certain advantage to other Canadian banks. We brought JD Power home and that basically supports and validates our customer service model. It’s important because it’s something the bank is built on. It’s part of our culture and it’s something we work on every day.

GlobeSt.com: Can you explain your real estate strategy?

Diaz: It’s a balanced strategy. So sometimes you have an opportunity to buy and sometimes you have to lease.

In Florida we’ve been very strategic. We’ve used a balanced approached of where to expand. The legacy market for TD bank is South Florida. Palm Beach was our first market so we’ve continued a strategy of expansion in these markets. Although there are no immediate plans in other parts of the state right now, we are looking and will continue to look for opportunities in the markets we’re serving, which, as you know, are all of the metro markets in the state. We are targeting a number of situations for 15 as well.

GlobeSt.com: How do you choose specific locations?

Diaz: One of the very important factors is rooftops. What does my community look like? Is it a store that will be able to do business and take opportunity from both the retail and commercial business, small businesses in particular?