Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) may be based in Canada, but its U.S. operations have become increasingly important to the future of the company — and of its employees.

Executives working at the Toronto bank, which already has more branches in the U.S. than it does in Canada, should consider leaving their home turf to "open more doors" in their careers, TD's chief financial officer told American Banker in an interview on Thursday.

"You don't have to move. You don't have to work on both sides of the border to grow your career at TD," CFO Colleen Johnston said in an interview. "But we are a North American retail bank, and I think for folks who are mobile and who are willing to make those changes, I think it just opens more doors for you."

She spoke hours after participating in TD's annual shareholder meeting, which top executives attended from New York City rather than from the bank's home city. The meeting was simulcast from Toronto by live video conference, but Johnston and Chief Executive Ed Clark physically met with investors at Manhattan's Grand Hyatt hotel.

During the meeting Thursday, Clark said TD wants to become the third-largest retail bank in New York. (It is currently the fifth-largest.) He pledged to open more than 50 new branches in the metropolitan area within the next four years, adding to the 89 branches the bank currently has in the city.

All of this planned growth will likely lead to some good news for American bankers, who have seen layoffs at many companies. TD plans to recruit heavily in the United States, Johnston said.

Last year, the company hired about 8,200 people in the U.S. compared with about 8,800 people in Canada.

TD Bank entered the U.S. retail banking market just seven years ago. It now has roughly 1,300 branches along the East Coast, compared to about 1,100 branches in Canada, after completing a series of acquisitions, including Commerce Bancorp in Paramus, N.J.; South Financial in Greenville, S.C.; and TD Banknorth in Portland, Maine. It also bought three failed Florida banks in 2010.

Bank executives don't have big plans to expand west, however; Johnston said TD will focus on intensifying its reach within its existing markets, adding that she likes the Northeast because it has good growth prospects and has outperformed other parts of the United States in recent years. She added that the Northeast also has cultural similarities and geographic proximity to Canada.

All this talk of expansion has largely left out TD's Canadian operations, but Johnston said that employee morale remains high in its home country.

"Canada feels absolutely fantastic," Johnston said. "We are very unified in the sense that investing in the U.S., what we have done and what we continue to do, is really good for the bank's future."

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