Who is next in line to take over for Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) chief executive, Ed Clark, as he nears retirement age?

TD has begun contemplating life after Ed Clark, who turns 65 next year. The horse race has only begun, but one logical candidate is Colleen Johnston, the Toronto company's chief financial officer.

Johnston, 54, who is in her seventh year as the CFO, is credited with helping TD exit from some of the high-risk and complex businesses that hurt most banks during the financial crisis.

She also played a key role in the bank's expansion into the U.S. TD Bank now has roughly 1,300 branches in the U.S., more than it has north of the border.

Johnston, in an interview on a broad range of topics after the bank's annual meeting in New York on Thursday, downplayed the speculation about her as a successor to Clark.

"There is always room to expand within your existing role or potentially take on different roles," Johnston said. "I am very open to whatever that brings. TD Bank has treated me incredibly well, and it's been a phenomenal experience from a personal and professional standpoint."

During her tenure TD "has changed so much and has grown so much," Johnston said. "Every year has new challenges and opportunities."

Clark's contract runs through April 2013. After that, he will continue as CEO through an "open-ended agreement," Brian Levitt, the bank's chairman, said at the annual meeting. Clark will remain with the bank for a while, and the board is "confident that Ed's successor will be internal," Levitt said.

"While I am in the final years of my tenure as CEO, I am in no hurry to leave," Clark said at the meeting. "My passion for our business and brand keeps me energized and focused on the job at hand."

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