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Toronto-Dominion Bank CEO Ed Clark

BEN NELMS/Reuters

Ed Clark may be on the verge of his 65th birthday, but he's not planning to call it quits.

The chief executive officer of Toronto-Dominion Bank said Wednesday he plans to stick around for another few years, but gave no specific date for when he plans to step aside. However, TD chairman Brian Levitt indicated the bank intends to choose Mr. Clark's eventual successor from inside the bank.

"While I am in the final years of my tenure as CEO, I am in no hurry to leave," Mr. Clark told shareholders in New York, where the company held its annual meeting, along with a similar gathering in Toronto.

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Asked about the remark after the meeting, Mr. Clark, who turns 65 in October, stressed that he's not intending to depart in the year ahead.

"There is an 's' on the word years, so it means more than one year," he said.

In addition to Mr. Clark's age – he is among the oldest of Canada's bank CEOs – the topic of succession is beginning to ramp up in the sector given the length of time several bank bosses have been in the job.

The average tenure among the heads of Canada's major chartered banks is 7.5 years, which is longer than the global average of 6.6 years, according to a 2010 Booz & Co. survey of 2,500 of the world's largest companies.

Royal Bank of Canada CEO Gord Nixon, 55, is the longest serving head of a Big Six Canadian bank, at 10 years, 8 months. Bank of Nova Scotia CEO Rick Waugh, 65, has been in the job just over 9 years, while Mr. Clark has headed up TD for 9 years, four months (not including 16 years Mr. Clark had served as CEO of Canada Trust before it was bought by TD in 2000).

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CEO Gerry McCaughey, 55, has been in the job 6 years, 8 months. Bank of Montreal CEO Bill Downe has held the position for just over 5 years, while National Bank of Canada CEO Louis Vachon has served 4 years, 10 months.

Speaking to TD shareholders gathered in Toronto for the Canadian portion of the bank's annual meeting, Mr. Levitt said TD will likely look inside for its next CEO, but did not elaborate.

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"The board is confident that Ed's successor will be internal and will carry on with the same vision and values," Mr. Levitt said.

Mr. Clark was the highest paid of the Canadian bank CEOs last year, with $11.4-million in total compensation.

"I'm not sticking around because I have something to accomplish," Mr. Clark said. "I'm sticking around because I'm having fun. What am I proudest about? I'm proudest about the management team that we've built and the depth of the bench, so it makes me relaxed to say I can go at any time."

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