Two compelling threads comprise the 2008 story of TD Bank Financial Group and Colleen Johnston, its CFO: the $500 billion bank is one of very few North American institutions that didn't write down a single penny in subprime mortgage losses, and with the $8.5 billion acquisition of Commerce Bancorp, TD now has as many branches south of the Canadian border as it does up north.

Johnston gets much of the credit for TD's early exit from some of the high-risk and complex businesses that eventually hammered most banks. "We looked at our business and said, "Are these businesses part of our core capabilities? Do we understand the risk, is the business transparent, is there sufficient liquidity? Those are all factors where we made significant decisions to exit complex businesses," Johnston says.

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