Jesus “Ernie” Diaz was promoted in late February to Florida regional president for TD Bank after serving as the bank’s market president for South Florida for nearly two and a half years.
Based in Coral Gables, he is responsible for TD Bank’s retail, small business, commercial and specialty banking operations and lending services throughout Florida, where the bank has grown its network to 171 branches — which it calls “stores.”
For Diaz, it’s the latest move in a career that has spanned 28 years and taken him to banks of varying sizes in the region.
We spoke to Diaz — who goes by “Ernie,” which is from his middle name, Ernesto — on the phone, and then emailed him these questions.
Q. You have had a long career in banking. When and how did you start and what have been some of the highlights?
I started in banking in 1984. At the time, I was working for Barnett Bank in its credit card collections area and attending FIU. When Barnett moved its operations/collections area to Pompano, I decided I needed to make a change and was fortunate to find a job at Southeast Bank in its credit card collections area. After graduating, I was accepted into the bank’s management training program, which proved to be the foundation for my commercial banking career.
In 1991, I went to work for Terrabank, a community bank headquartered in Miami. I worked at Terra nine years and was exposed to a number of banking situations that one would typically not have a chance to experience in larger institutions.
In 2000, I went to work for Union Planters in its real estate group and stayed through the acquisition of Regions Bank and the Am South merger. During my tenure at Regions, I was given the opportunity to lead the real estate group in Miami and finally the middle market lending group for South Florida.
In 2007, along with a group of executives from Regions Bank, I went to work for the South Financial Group (TSFG) which was headquartered in Greenville, S.C. I ultimately was given responsibility for its Florida franchise, Mercantile Bank, until the company was sold to TD Bank in 2010. I was the South Florida Market President for TD until my new promotion to Regional President for the state.
Q. Tell us about TD Bank’s background, and when and how did the bank enter Florida?
TD Bank is a 150-year-old institution and is the American branch of TD Bank Group out of Toronto. The bank originally came to Florida as TD’s predecessor, Commerce Bank, in 2005. TD acquired Commerce Bank and rebranded as TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, in 2008.
Q. What growth has TD Bank achieved since then and what is its current presence in Florida and in South Florida?
TD Bank has grown significantly since entering Florida. We have made a few small acquisitions and continued to build new stores to fuel growth and expand our footprint. The bank then acquired the South Financial Group and rebranded as TD in 2011, expanding our Florida footprint in Central Florida and Northeast Florida. Right now we have 171 stores in Florida, 68 of which are in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Q. Do you have any plans to enter Monroe County?
The Florida Keys are an important part of South Florida, and we continue to look for ways to better serve our customers. However, we have no immediate plans to enter the Keys.