Hugh Allen, who joined TD Bank in 2014 as a commercial real estate regional director, was named president of TD Bank’s Mid-South Metro region last summer. Overseeing Maryland, the Carolinas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Delaware, Allen manages roughly 4,400 employees in nearly 130 branches.
Allen, who spent eight years of his career in Maryland, lived in Silver Spring and has family members in Baltimore.
“Maryland is like a second home in many ways,” he said. “I am very familiar with the Maryland market.”
The Daily Record spoke with Allen, who is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, about his new role and about COVID’s continued impact on the banking industry. (Allen’s responses have been lightly edited.)
TDR: In July, you were named president of TD Bank’s Mid-South Metro region. What are some of your goals with this position?
Hugh Allen: My No. 1 priority is to help support and drive growth for TD Bank from Delaware to South Carolina, which is the geography I am responsible for. I officially sat in the chair Sept. 1. I was named in July and I had the opportunity to shadow my predecessor for a couple of months. It has been a great opportunity for me to learn more about a broader section of the bank. I was more focused previously on just commercial real estate lending and was managing the geography of what I have now, plus Florida. But this is a bigger, broader scope, with retail, small business, commercial and big corporate lending. It is a great opportunity to help the bank drive growth and be very strategic in how we do that. I am blessed with the best markets, I think, in our footprint.
TDR: You have more than 30 years of experience in banking. What first drew you to the field?
HA: The majority of my career I’ve been in commercial real estate and that is what originally drew me into the field. I sold houses for a little while and then got an opportunity to be in a position where I (could) work in a bank doing commercial real estate finance as an analyst. It was a great first step for me. I had interned for a large apartment financier up in New York for a little while and that is where I got my feet wet. That confirmed for me that I wanted to be on the finance side. Banking provided the best opportunity for me to see a lot of deal flow and that is how I got attracted to banking.
TDR: How has the banking industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
HA: First and foremost in my mind are our branches and the people who work in those branches every day. I am constantly amazed at how dedicated and committed those folks are to their customers that come in to the branches every day. It has been a big impact on all banks, including TD, to keep the doors open. I know a lot of banks have closed a lot of their branch network purposefully and on a permanent basis, not on a day-by-day basis, to try to alleviate disruption (though) in some instances they may have created disruption for some of their customers. We have really fought the good fight and maintained our (branch) presence either fully open or at a minimum (with a) drive-through or lobby-only presence, but we have kept the doors open. I think that has been a real impact on banking — being able to be consistent as a provider of financial services to our customers, especially on the retail side.
On the commercial side we do lending with small business, middle market, large companies, what have you. It is a little bit different — the interface being able to do a Microsoft Teams meeting or a WebEx call with a client, electronic transfer of data and information. It is not as easy as it was pre-COVID, but it is easier than some of the challenges we have faced, I think, in our branches.
We’ve seen great resiliency in our markets and have been able to reverse a lot of the provisions that we set aside early on in COVID, where we were concerned with the potential for losses. We have not seen those materialize and our credit quality has held up very, very well.
TDR: What has it been like to lead during such an uncertain time in the world?
HA: It has been a challenge. It requires a little bit of everything you can muster and then some. There is no script or playbook or business school journal that can tell you or prepare you for what we have had to go through over the last 18 to 24 months in COVID. You really have to be more thoughtful in how you respond, especially in the role of a regional president at TD Bank, where you have responsibility for the retail branch network as well as our commercial lending platforms. You’ve got to be a lot more thoughtful. You’ve got to be well read so that you are informed as to how one thing can impact you over here and have unintended consequences elsewhere or a ripple elsewhere — so you need to look out for the ripples across the pond on anything that you do.
TDR: Many small businesses developed a strong bond with their banks after the PPP loan process. How does TD Bank continue to grow these relationships?
HA: We were a tremendous PPP loan provider. We have kept in active contact with those borrowers. Many of them were already customers of the bank. Many were not and we have had great follow-ups. I think our numbers speak for themselves. In our footprint, we were the No. 1 Small Business Administration lender. Recently in the South we were named the No. 1 small business lender by J.D. Power. Those recognitions speak for themselves. I think we have done an excellent job of follow-up, through checking in and making sure that if (borrowers) have any support needs we are there for them.