The finance sector can be simple or it can be complicated. I prefer simple, which is why Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD -1.80%) has been in my portfolio for a long time. And today, with the stock selling off in the face of recession fears, the price is starting to look attractive again. Here's why this is a bank stock I would consider buying (if I didn't already own it) and holding forever (which is how long I plan to own it).

TD Bank is big in Canada

Toronto-Dominion Bank, or TD Bank as most people call it, is one of the largest banks in Canada. To put some numbers on that, it is the second-largest by net assets, market capitalization, and net income. That said, it has more deposits than any of its Canadian peers. Without question, it is a giant in its home market.

A bank teller providing service to a customer with a line behind them.

Image source: Getty Images.

That's good, but there's more to it than that. The Canadian banking sector is highly regulated, leading to a small handful of companies dominating the industry. TD Bank is one of those companies. This collection of banks basically has government-protected positions (big mergers are frowned upon) and will be hard to unseat. Moreover, the highly regulated Canadian banking sector also tends to be very conservative, so it's unlikely that a huge business mistake will lead to leadership change, either.

Thus, TD Bank has a dominant and entrenched position in its home market. The problem is that Canada is not a growth market, another side effect of the regulation regime. But that isn't a problem for TD Bank, because it has growth options south of the border.

Getting big(ger) in the United States

TD Bank is using its strong core as a foundation to support its push into the U.S. market, where it currently has material exposure on the East Coast. When you combine its U.S. and Canadian operations, it is a top-10 bank in North America (No. 6 by total assets and No. 5 by deposits). However, because its operations are focused in one region, it still has ample opportunity to expand in the United States.

It is, for example, in the midst of acquiring First Horizon in a roughly $13.4 billion deal. Assuming the deal closes without any problems, TD Bank will have expanded its reach to 22 states. That leaves another 28 available for further expansion! On top of that, it also announced its intention to buy Cowen, an investment manager, to expand its asset management capabilities in both the United States and abroad. 

All in, TD Bank is making good use of its strong core operations to reach out into new markets. That's a pleasing balance of safety and risk that even conservative investors will likely appreciate. 

TD Bank is ready for the pain

And yet investors sold the stock off in 2022 in the face of recessionary fears, pushing it down 25% from recent highs. That makes some sense, given that an economic downturn will likely pressure the bank's earnings. However, TD Bank's Tier 1 capital ratio is the second-highest in North America (higher is better). So it is one of the best-prepared banks if there is a recession. And it's paid a dividend annually for over 160 years, so the company has some history when it comes to surviving through adversity. All in, if you are looking for a bank, TD Bank should probably be on the top of your list.