"As a business lender, we take great interest in understanding our customers, their industries, their challenges and opportunities."
COURTESY TD BANK
By Rhonda Miller PBN Staff Writer
Scott Sanborn is TD Bank’s regional vice president for the Greater Boston and Rhode Island markets. He leads a joint initiative with TD Wealth Management that focuses on commercial, wealth and retail banking solutions for legal, accounting, medical and other professional services.
He is immediate past chairman of the board of the Metro South Chamber of Commerce, based in Brockton, and president of the Boston Minutemen Council of Boy Scouts.
Sanborn has a bachelor’s degree in international politics from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in finance and entrepreneurship from Babson College.
PBN: TD Bank did a survey of 303 finance executives, including CFOs, comptrollers, treasurers and directors of finance across the nation, conducted in November and December 2012 by ORC International. What was the strategy that led TD Bank to dedicate the time and expense for a financial industry survey?
SANBORN: As a business lender, we take great interest in understanding our customers, their industries, their challenges and opportunities. How do they feel about the economy? Are they optimistic or pessimistic? What are their plans to invest in their growth? The answers to those questions help us better understand what motivates a company’s financial decisions and therefore, we’re better able to respond to their needs today and tomorrow. Across our regional markets, including Providence and Greater Boston, we also find these individuals provide a strong indicator of anticipated economic activity.
PBN: Half of the survey was about middle-market companies with annual sales of $50 million to less than $500 million. The other half surveyed corporate executives at companies with annual sales greater than $500 million. What were the similarities you found in these two groups?
SANBORN: Overall, these two groups were fairly aligned on issues like economic optimism, how they expect their companies to perform over the year ahead, and the things they worry could have a negative impact on their companies’ growth, although the large corporates were a bit more concerned about competition and the global economy. For the most part, they’ve been holding on to quite a bit of cash since the recession, and they plan to put some of that cash to use, but in different ways. Middle-market executives said they’re more likely to invest equipment and technology, while the large corporate executives said investing in their facilities and possible M&A activity were priorities. More than 20 percent of both groups said they plan to hire more employees in the year ahead, and that’s great news for the country and especially for our region.
PBN: From the perspective TD Bank got from the national survey, how does that compare to what your bank is seeing in Rhode Island? TD Bank has six locations in Rhode Island. Are there any plans to expand in 2013?
SANBORN: Most Rhode Island companies we have spoken with remain cautiously optimistic. The national debate on the debt ceiling and the overall political climate in Washington remain a major concern for local businesses. Nevertheless, companies are constantly reviewing their hiring needs and evaluate expansion and borrowing opportunities based on market conditions. In Rhode Island, TD continues to invest resources in our expansion efforts. During 2013, we look forward to opening our seventh Rhode Island location, which will be in Pawtucket.
PBN: Small business was not included in the national survey. Is TD Bank seeing any decrease or increase in small-business lending?
SANBORN: At TD, our view is that small business is big business. It continues to be a key focus for TD. Our store expansion efforts are vital components to support our small business marketplace. During the first quarter of 2013, we see increased activity in small business lending. With our commitment to small business, we will utilize our resources to seek small business opportunities.
PBN: What is your outlook for the Rhode Island financial industry, and the state economy in general, for 2013?
SANBORN: With a relatively young brand in the Rhode Island market, we at TD are excited to be part of this state and its business community. The financial landscape here is competitive, but TD has a great value proposition and this is a market we’re proud to be expanding in. Although unemployment has been a local concern for a number of years, the Governor recently shared data at a RI SBANE event which showed improvement in all five Rhode Island unemployment indicators. The Governor noted this is the first time that has occurred in a number of years. Although there continues to be some economic headwinds, we think things are looking up. We’re well-positioned to work with small and middle -market companies to achieve their plans for 2013 and beyond.