How banking services are evolving to accommodate a more diversified market

Ernie Diaz Florida Regional President – TD Bank

What does it mean to be a Canadian bank operating in the Florida market?

TD Bank has seen tremendous growth throughout South Florida and it caters to the entire market, not simply internationals. We are seeing growth in all product lines, in particular commercial, small business, health sector and real estate lending, as well as our in-store distribution. The fact that there is such an influx of Canadians in this market gives TD Bank a competitive advantage, as the brand is familiar amongst that demographic, who have been active here for many years. While they initially flocked to South Florida because of the favorable climate and quality of life, they are now seeing this market as advantageous for conducting business.

How have regulations impacted the local banking sector?

Banks have been greatly affected by the current regulatory environment, especially in the realm of international transactions. Regulations have particularly impacted the way we finance foreign trade. This means that Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and export-import programs become even more critical, especially for a market like Miami that relies so heavily on trade. What we are seeing is that as traditional financing options have stalled, private equity and finance firms are filling the gap in financing some of this trade.

What have been the drivers of growth for commercial lending in the past year?

Florida has become an increasingly important market within the U.S. The state’s population growth has outpaced New York’s. The state has seen healthy growth in manufacturing, wholesaling and services, as well as the number of startups. In South Florida, we are seeing high volumes of foreign investment. Real estate has rebounded. We are seeing more capital expenditures. Companies are starting to come back into the black.

As a banking executive and the incoming chair of The Beacon Council, how do you view the development of Greater Miami’s business community?

This is an exciting time in Miami-Dade’s development. There are high concentrations of financial and human capital. This factor, in addition to the fact that there are relatively low barriers to entry in this market, creates an inviting environment for new immigrants and businesses. We’ve proven we can recruit talent to this market—the question is how do we retain this talent. The Beacon Council has been actively cultivating mentorships and linking educational institutions and the private sector. These efforts are building a foundation for long-term growth.