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• Mar 23, 2020

This family man is also a 'Law & Order' Addict

TD Bank's Michael Innis-Thompson heads up Community Lending and Development, but the man behind the role is so much more than a title – and at most times is the best dressed person in the room (though he's modest about it).

This TD leader is someone that values family above all else, which shines brightly in his efforts to help underserved families in this country get that much closer to the American Dream of owning their own home.

And while he's passionate about the work he does at the Bank, he's just as passionate about making time for his family every day. Also, don't be surprised if he indisposed Monday nights, as he'll be busy watching "The Voice" on NBC. The rest of the week, you might find him binging "Law & Order."

Here's a revealing, fun and candid conversation with Michael Innis-Thompson:

You head up Community Lending and Development. What does that mean and what does your line of business do for the Bank?

My team's main responsibility is to expand and improve the ways the Bank meets the needs of underserved communities, while delivering on our Community Reinvestment Act ("CRA") goals for the retail and commercial lines of business.

On the Community Lending side, much of this work is centered on increasing access to homeownership for low- to moderate-income individuals and families. For Community Development, we drive activities that revitalize and/or stabilize communities via community development loans, investments and services. We achieve this by collaborating with various lines of business across the Bank and external strategic partners who share our common goals.

We are also focused on increasing access to homeownership for minorities. When you look at national statistics, the homeownership rate published by the Census Bureau in the fourth quarter of 2019 for non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. is about 74%. For African Americans, it's 44% and for Hispanics, it's 48% – so this represents a great business opportunity for TD.

All the lines of business at TD Bank are about helping people live better lives. But with Community Lending and Development, it really is about lifting people and families up. Your line and your people must have such a sense of accomplishment from the work you do?

Yes, to see individuals and families go through the process of buying their home – some easy, some not as easy – and then to receive letters from them telling our team they did an outstanding job … it's all incredibly rewarding.

These community loan officers could be working in segments where they could be originating larger loan sizes and making more money, but they are working in a segment that they are passionate about.

But it's also just sound business strategy to be offering these programs and products to underserved markets, right?

For me, I look at this as a larger business opportunity for the Bank. If you look at information from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing, between 2018 and 2028, approximately 77% of new household formations will be from minority segments. Just from a market strategy standpoint, if you're not positioned to serve those markets, you're not going to be successful as a bank.

What are some of the products, programs and services your line of business offers to customers?

While we don't own the products and services, our job is to influence the types of products and services that the Bank offers.

So, my team is involved in influencing the development and/or delivery of things like down payment assistance programs, evolving the TD Right Step mortgage – which supports LMI borrowers – and loan products and programs from organizations like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

We also work to make homebuyers aware of assistance available at the state or local level. For example, the New York Home First program offers eligible homebuyers up to $40,000 toward their down payment or closing costs – but many first-time buyers don't know these types of programs exist.

Finally, my team creates and manages a wealth of financial education resources that are available to employees and to the public. I believe this is some of the most important and meaningful work we do – helping people take the right steps toward financial stability.

What makes TD different from the competition in your eyes?

One thing that resonates with me is the notion of being the Better Bank. Providing what we call a Legendary Customer Experience is something that always keeps our employees focused on the customer. I believe this is the key to acquisition and customer referrals.

Technology is very important to the growth of the business, but we're still a customer-facing company and we need to have a real relationship with our customers. You can't forget there is a human being on the other end of the transaction.

Just throwing in a few fun questions! What's your morning routine like?

The first thing I do when I get up is turn the TV on for the local news and to see what's going on in our area. Then, I get ready for work.

But something that is very special and important to me is at 7:30 a.m. Eastern, which is 4:30 a.m. Pacific, my wife and daughter, who live in San Diego full-time, are usually on their way to the ice-skating rink. So, I give them a call every morning and that's how we connect. Living out here on the East Coast for work, it's very important for me to have that call with my family to start my day.

My daughter is a competitive figure skater and she has been doing it for 11 years now. She has achieved the designation of U.S. Figure Skating Gold Medalist for her "Moves in the Field." Later this month, she'll also be testing for the same designation in senior "Free Skate".

What's something people don't know about you?

I'm a pretty good handyman at home. I install all our ceiling fans, change hanging light fixtures, our dimmer and light switches, and hang and install our televisions. I really like to be hands-on when it comes to working on our home.

I'm also a dual citizen – I'm British and am very proud that I became an American citizen in 2016.

How do you unwind after work or on the weekends?

On Mondays, I really like to watch "The Voice" on NBC. I'm warming up to Nick Jonas as a new judge on the show, but it's just a great show. I'm also addicted to "Law & Order."

Weather permitting, I also walk three miles, three to four times a week.

Any advice to your younger self?

Learn to listen a lot more. It's something that's so important to developing anywhere, whether it be your personal life or in the work place. As my mother would say, God gave you two ears and one mouth, so use them proportionately.

What was the worst advice you never took and are glad you didn't? (Something where you trusted your gut and it paid off.)

I worked for a mortgage company previously and started to see early signs that the company was getting ready for sale, but leadership continued to say that wasn't going to happen.

I followed my gut and took a job in Washington D.C. and six months later, that previous employer was sold. Looking back, that new role in D.C. was where my career started to take off. So, trust in yourself and it will pay off in more ways than one.

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