As a vice president of enterprise real estate for TD Bank, Scott Wishna oversees the transactional work for nearly half of the its US retail locations, from the New York City to the Philadelphia metropolitan areas. It’s a lot of ground to cover, but Wishna leverages more than twenty years of knowledge and expertise to both manage the transactions for these locations and help TD Bank plan its future in the banking space.
Before Wishna joined TD Bank, his career in real estate first started at Sprint. In 2000, he joined Sprint as a retail finance manager, and in the course of seven years, he ascended through various positions. Eventually, he had responsibility for the retail channel’s capital management and retail distribution strategy. He then spent a year at Polo Ralph Lauren, which he considers a bit of a layover: “Like changing planes in my career path,” Wishna explains. He later moved to commercial real estate outfit CBRE in 2008, handling retail transaction work for AT&T. Eventually, though, Wishna yearned for something new, shifting to TD Bank in 2013 to handle new store acquisitions and expand their existing footprint.
His role has evolved quite a bit since that time. Today, Wishna handles a variety of functions within his assigned area—essentially what amounts to a stretch from southern Connecticut through southeastern Pennsylvania. Encompassing nearly 600 of the 1,250 locations TD Bank boasts nationwide, the region is benefited by Wishna’s spending much of his time amending existing leases in the TD Bank portfolio or disposing of real estate it no longer needs by selling or terminating leases or facilitating subleases. “That wasn’t something that I or my counterparts handled, historically,” he explains in regard to his disposition work. “It’s a different set of skills, quite frankly—how to handle that aspect of the portfolio versus acquisition.”
The main lesson Wishna has learned from his decades of real estate experience is that you have to be able to wear a lot of different hats simultaneously. During his time at Sprint, the company was dogged in growing its retail footprint. “I’d spend the majority of my time working new store analysis and letters of intent for new retail stores,” he says. That is, until he learned that Sprint was working on a merger with Nextel (bringing a thousand-store portfolio with them).
From there, Wishna had to pivot from acquisition to distribution strategy— cutting down on redundant distribution points and finding where their portfolios overlap. “I had to learn a new set of skills and be able to implement that plan in a very short period of time,” explains Wishna. That experience taught him that real estate can be a rollercoaster ride: “While you might be flying high one minute, the next you could descend pretty rapidly,” he explains.
“One of the things that’s really important is to make sure that we’re working together as a team. They’re an extension of the bank to the external real estate community.”
A high level of flexibility is important when you’re overseeing such a wide swath of a company’s locations, as Wishna does with TD Bank. “It sounds daunting as far as volume goes, but for many of them, once they’re built, there’s nothing for me to do for fifteen years,” he says. “But a third of those locations have some activity I have to manage.” Wishna has worked on some of them every single day for the last five years. To that end, he has to find ways to prioritize his work, getting the tasks he needs to manage out of the way so he can focus on more proactive efforts to rightsize TD Bank’s retail real estate portfolio and minimize real estate operating expenses.
Part of Wishna’s work includes collaborating with his previous employer CBRE as an external vested partner. His history with them gives him a valuable perspective on working with real estate transactions from both an occupier’s and a service provider’s perspective. “One of the things that’s really important is to make sure that we’re working together as a team. They’re an extension of the bank to the external real estate community,” he explains.
Ultimately, all this effort contributes to TD Bank’s mission statement to build a bank of the future, which Wishna takes very seriously in his transactional work. “Historically, banks were big,” he says. “They represented safety for people’s money. Some of them were built like fortresses. And that’s not necessarily the size they need to be or how they need to be built going forward.”
To build a bank of the future, though, Wishna has to help TD Bank adapt and cater to a banking experience in which technology results in less foot traffic. “Many of the branch locations we have throughout our portfolio don’t meet the footprint of the future,” he explains. Some bank branches command areas as large five thousand square feet, and TD Bank just can’t justify spaces of that size any longer. Sometimes, this results in demising larger spaces and repurposing them, reducing the square footage and cutting rental costs by surrendering that additional space to a landlord. Other times, it means surrendering the lease entirely and relocating the branch to a more space-efficient location that still serves the trade area.
For Wishna, all these changes mean juggling new transactions and lease terms—while consistently searching for new places in which to realize TD Bank’s vision.
CBRE congratulates Scott Wishna, vice president and senior real estate manager at TD Bank, on his leadership and accomplishments. Scott is a consummate real estate executive, with profound expertise across all essential disciplines. We deeply value our strategic partnership, creating competitive advantage through successful real estate solutions.