By Scott Miller
Published Oct. 5, 2010
Just a few days after closing its acquisition of The South Financial Group, TD Bank Financial Group has taken a step toward making South Carolina a key cog in its back-office operations.
The company announced today that it will hire 50 employees as it expands the Carolina First mortgage operation center in Lexington. Positions will include mortgage processors, underwriters, closers and operations staff. The Lexington center will serve TD Bank’s entire U.S. footprint, from Maine to Florida, while working in tandem with existing TD Bank mortgage operations centers in Lewiston, Maine, and Mount Laurel, N.J.
Already, Carolina First has 25 employees at its mortgage operations center in Lexington. Next year, that team will be integrated into TD Bank’s Lexington operations, bringing the total number of positions there to about 75.
Michael Copley, retail lending executive vice president for TD Bank, said integrating South Carolina into headquarters operations in New Jersey and Maine makes sense because the Palmetto State’s mild climate will mean fewer service interruptions.
Additionally, South Carolina has enough talent to fill these positions without the need to transfer employers from out of state, he said. TD Bank began advertising for the jobs on Sunday; more than 100 applications had arrived by Monday morning, he said. TD Bank hopes to complete hiring by Thanksgiving.
“The timing couldn’t have come quick enough for us, because our volume is so strong,” Copley said, noting that the company’s residential mortgage business has doubled and is expected to remain strong in 2011. “We intend to penetrate our existing customer base to expand this business. TD Bank has invested in the business and we have seen returns on those investments.
“We want to continue to grow this business at its current pace.”
TD Bank announced plans in May to acquire South Financial and its subsidiary banks, including Carolina First operating in the Carolinas and Mercantile Bank in Florida. All regulatory approvals were received, and on Friday, Carolina First bank branches opened their doors for the first time as members of TD Bank.
Although the shape TD Bank’s regional headquarters could take in South Carolina is uncertain, it’s clear the company has substantial growth plans for the market. In May, Fred Graziano, executive vice president and head of retail banking, told SC Biz News that TD Bank aimed to be No. 3 in deposit share and store count in the state. That could be accomplished through acquisitions or branch construction, he said.
Growth on the lending side of the business could aid that goal, too, Copley said.
“We do cross-sell our customers,” he said. “We know customers who have a mortgage with us have broader relationships with us.”
TD Bank will not need to expand Lexington facilities or relocate to handle this expansion, he said.
“South Financial Group frankly had state-of-the-art facilities,” Copley said.