To most people, banking does not equal excitement.

But prominent former Maine banking executive William J. Ryan said he agreed to become chairman of a Massachusetts-based regional bank at age 70 because he wanted to get back into the action.

“I enjoyed retirement, but I also enjoy a challenge,” said Ryan, who retired as TD Bank NA chairman in 2010. “I really miss the people – I really miss working with people every day.”

Ryan is the former chairman and CEO of Portland-based TD Banknorth and one of Maine’s most influential bankers. Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. announced June 30 that he had agreed to join its board of directors as chairman.

Berkshire Hills CEO Michael P. Daly said landing Ryan as chairman was a coup for the company, which has $6 billion in assets and operates 90 Berkshire Bank branches in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Vermont. The bank has nearly double the assets of the largest Maine-based bank, Bangor Savings Bank.

“You don’t actually choose Bill. You woo him,” Daly said.

Ryan said Berkshire Bank was an ideal fit because it shares several characteristics and goals with banks he has headed in the past.

He came to Maine in 1989, after serving as a top executive for banks in Massachusetts. Ryan was named chief executive of what was then Peoples Heritage Financial Group in 1990.

He and his management team bought nearly 30 banks and insurance companies in New England and New York over the following decade, making the company, renamed Banknorth, the region’s largest homegrown bank.

Ryan struck a deal in 2004 with Canada-based TD Bank, which at the time had no presence in the United States.

TD Bank purchased a controlling interest in Banknorth, and the bank was renamed TD Banknorth. Four years later, TD Bank purchased TD Banknorth outright.

Berkshire Bank has been growing at a rate similar to that of Peoples Heritage at the time Ryan assumed control of that franchise. In the past five years, Berkshire has quintupled its number of branches, mostly through acquisitions, Daly said.

The company now fits squarely in the category of midsized regional banks, he said. While the Northeast has many large and small banks, he said, it lacks a sufficient number of banks large enough to offer a full suite of services but small enough that each customer still receives personal attention.

“I think there’s a great opportunity to expand across our markets,” Daly said.

Another similarity between Ryan’s and Daly’s tenures as top bank executives is the economic environment in which they have operated, the two bankers said.

When Ryan became CEO of Peoples Heritage, the country was recovering from a deep recession, just as it is today.

“The banking environment is like it was in the late ’80s and early ’90s,” he said. “Things are slowly getting better.”

Despite the added challenges a recession brings, such as reduced loan revenue and a higher default rate, Ryan led Peoples Heritage into a growth phase. In 1990, the bank was being dragged down by bad loans. Its stock price was at an all-time low, and it was under threat of being shut down by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Aided by an improving economy, Ryan resuscitated the bank franchise within his first three years at the helm and turned it into a major player in New England’s financial sector. By 1995, the bank had 77 branches in Maine and New Hampshire and $3.1 billion in assets. By the time Peoples Heritage was renamed Banknorth in 2000, it had $4.4 billion in assets.

Daly said that with Ryan’s help, he plans to focus primarily on improving the performance of Berkshire Bank. Their goal is not expansion for expansion’s sake, he said.

“We will be ready, willing and able to expand if performance drives it,” he said.

Another advantage Daly sees in having Ryan as chairman is that it will boost the number of quality job applicants.

“Employees will come because of him,” Daly said.

Ryan already serves on the boards of other companies with a strong Maine presence. He has been chairman of benefit and disability insurance company Unum Group since 2011, and he is a director of health benefits company Wellpoint Inc.

Ryan also is the majority owner of the Maine Red Claws, an NBA Development League basketball team affiliated with the Boston Celtics.

He serves as a trustee of the Libra Foundation and is on the board of advisers at the University of New England.

Still, Ryan said his true passion is banking, and that he plans to jump into the chairmanship position with both feet.

“I’ve always been a community banker,” he said. “Berkshire is a great community bank.”