One-on-One with First National’s Stephen Smith

First National LPCanada’s largest non-bank lender, First National, got its start 25 years ago from this past Sunday.

Stephen Smith, Co-founder and President, recently spoke with CMT about First National’s dramatic growth and the factors behind its success.

Stephen SmithHe also touched on the vital role of mortgage securitization, the likelihood of seeing Prime minus 0.90% variable rates again, and the future of non-deposit-taking lenders in a market dominated by banks.

In addition to his role at First National, Mr. Smith is chairman and part owner of mortgage insurer Canada Guaranty.

Along with his long-time business partner Moray Tawse, each of them own 24 million shares in First National Financial Corporation. That easily makes them among the most successful individual entrepreneurs in the Canadian mortgage market.

CMT’s exclusive one-on-one with Stephen Smith follows here…

Click for Audio Interview

(Length: 11 min., 54 sec.)


Interview transcriptFirst National – Chairman and President, Stephen Smith

  1. Stephen and Moray are not only one of the incomparable success stories in the mortgage business… they are also first class gentlemen… Congrats First National on 25 years from all of The Mortgage Centre!

  2. Stephen and Moray are a Canadian success story. Congratulations to you both on a quarter century in business. First National has made the mortgage market more competitive for the benefit of all.

  3. Great Interview Rob. Stephen is a class act and congratulations to all of First National for an amazing 25 years!

  4. Congratulations First National on this remarkable achievement. Special thanks to all the hard working employees of First National who put their brokers partners first.

  5. Stephen couldn’t be more right in saying that securitization is the lifeblood of the mortgage market. To that end, it is a crime to see the Finance Department kill private securitization vehicles by prohibiting their use of insured mortgage collateral.

  6. Here’s an interesting tidbit from National Bank Financial analyst Shubha Khan. He was summarizing a presentation made by Stephen Smith at NBF’s Canadian Financial Services Conference last week:
    “OSFI-regulated financial institutions may only hold mortgages up to 20x capital…First National’s limit is a more flexible 50x. First National values this strategic advantage and has avoided acquisitions of regulated financial institutions in the past in order to preserve it.”

  7. Great success story in our industry. I had the pleasure of working with First National when I started my career in the early 2000’s. At that time there were less than 100 employees in our office and many of the great people I worked with are still there. There are a lot of “lifers” at First National, which is a testament to the type of company they run. They really have set the “gold standard” that all other monolines in the mortgage industry continue to strive for.

  8. I joined First National LP in 2001. Although we have grown to become a substantially larger company from when I started I can tell you that First National is still the place to be. As my extended family and a brand I am proud to represent First National is not just a corporate name but a family of people driven by pride. Thank you Stephen and Moray. I can’t imagine my professional career without First National being part of my storey.
    Congrats! VH

  9. And with an 8% yield you’re looking at $30+ million a year in dividends.
    Go to school, get a good education and start your own business!

  10. Duncan(Sandy) McTaggart
    Great work Moray , you and your firm have come a long way.
    I still remember you talking about this when we played hockey together oh so many years ago LOL

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