How global issues are impacting banking in South Florida

Pablo Pino Market President, South Florida Commercial – TD Bank

 

What are South Florida’s greatest needs in relation to market demands?

When we speak to business owners, everyone is optimistic about 2017. The recent administration seems very pro-business. People are optimistic, but cautious at the same time, because we are getting broad indications of potential changes, but we have to make sure there aren’t any unintended consequences. A lot of the business owners that we deal with are global players, buying and importing from different parts of the world. They are optimistic that it will be a great 2017, but they are careful about the unintended consequences that may come out of all of these changes. In general, people are positive. We are seeing companies investing in equipment and positioning themselves for 2017. We also see that interest rates are starting to climb a little bit. People that have been standing on the sidelines thinking of acquiring equipment or investing in real estate are moving quicker before the rates get away. Overall it is very positive.

What are the main growth drivers in South Florida?

We saw growth in commercial real estate because people were coming from different parts of the country buying commercial real estate, including shopping centers and apartment buildings. The stronger dollar did mean slight weakness in demand coming from Latin America. South Florida has always been a beneficiary of different parts of the world. If South America weakens a little bit, we see domestic customers come in and invest in South Florida. With the euro being a little weaker also, we haven’t seen a lot of demand from Europe. While demand has shifted from international to domestic, Miami is still one of the great places to do business. We have no state income tax. People with an investment portfolio outside of Florida can come down here and redeploy their assets down here. A lot of investors say doing business here is a lot friendlier than in New York, for example.

With a slowdown in Latin American investors in South Florida and a slowdown in real estate lending, what have been the effects on banks in South Florida?

We weren’t really affected by the slowdown in Latin America. We did see that companies that we deal with in South Florida slow down, but I think that toward the end of 2016, there was some positive things and the problems were more political than anything. Brazil and Argentina, for example, had new presidents. It was a step in the right direction and it created a lot of confidence. In Argentina, the new president is very pro-business. Here in South Florida, exporters are seeing a stronger demand than 18 months ago.