FIRST NATIONAL - Key Persons
- Assistant Vice President, Commercial Origination
Aaron has been a part of the First National Financial team for the past 5 years, but brings eight years of industry expertise to his role as Sr. Manager, Commercial Operations.
For Aaron, nothing is ever personal in business. He's a confident decision maker, and passionately defends the logic he uses when making decisions.
As a commercial real estate professional, Aaron has an excellent grasp on the dimensions of the business from operations, sales and servicing to product development, investor relations and customer service. He also has a deep understanding of the challenges and complexities inherent in the mortgage process, from inception to discharge.
Working at First National, Aaron feels empowered to guide his actions, decisions and opinions according to what he values most - perspective, hard work and progress.
- Chairman of the Governance Committee
Ms. Palk retired as President of TD Asset Management Inc. in 2010, following a 30-year career in institutional investment and investment management. She currently serves on the board of directors of Crombie Real Estate Investment Trust, where she chairs the Human Resources Committee. Her experience on boards of directors include the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, where she chaired the Investment Committee; TD Asset Management USA Funds Inc.; Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, where she chaired the Governance Committee; Greenwood College School; the Investment Counselling Association of Canada; the Perimeter Institute; the Shaw Festival; UNICEF Canada; and Queen's University, where she was the Chair of the Board of Trustees. Ms. Palk is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute and a CFA charterholder. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics from Queen's University, and has been named one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2004).
- Senior Manager, Commercial Financing
- Assistant Vice President, Credit Adjudication
Dave has been a part of the First National Financial team since 2013, but brings more than 25 years of industry experience to his role as Credit Adjudicator.
For Dave, his mandate is to ensure that deals make sense. He considers himself the voice and protector of First National's and investors' interests within the deal process.
As both precedent setter and follower, Dave and his team are responsible for the viability of deals - price, structure, loan amount, term, amortization and investor(s). His philosophy focuses on three key principles:
Service-oriented approach: executing quickly and efficiently for investors and originators.
Pro-business: finding the balance between advancing the business and reasonable risk.
Educator: work collaboratively with underwriters and provide transparent feedback to originators on the rationale behind deal decisions.
Working at First National, Dave is empowered to triage opportunities and transform them into deals that make sense - adding value by foreseeing where a deal could go, providing all available options and advising on right structure that balances returns and risk.
- Senior Analyst, Commercial Credit
Deepak has 15 years of experience as a commercial and corporate banker, which includes credit underwriting, relationship management and business development. He has a proven track record in structuring, closing and monitoring transactions across a broad spectrum of industries. He joined First National in 2019 with a role in Commercial Servicing before moving into Commercial Credit. Extremely detail oriented and self disciplined, Deepak manages tasks and time with an eye on the bigger picture. He prides himself on being a team player that can adapt quickly and effectively.
When he's not adding value for First National borrowers, Deepak enjoys walks with his wife and son, playing soccer with his son and listening to music.
Ms. Sinhuber brings 35+ years of leadership experience to First National, primarily in the financial services industry. Until her retirement in 2022, she served as Senior Vice President, Internal Audit, Transformation at TD Bank. Prior to that she held the title SVP, Deputy Chief Auditor at the bank. Earlier in her career, she was a Partner at Ernst & Young LLP where she led the firm's Financial Services Organization in Canada. She is a Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA) and achieved her ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. She is currently a Director of the Scarborough Health Network and past Chair of the Board of the YMCA of Greater Toronto.
- Member of the Governance Committee
Mr. Jackman has been Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of E-L Financial Corporation, an investment and insurance holding company, since 2003. In 2003, he was also elected Chairman of the board of directors of The Empire Life Insurance Company. Mr. Jackman is also Chairman of Algoma Central Corporation, the largest Great Lakes bulk shipper, as well as Chairman and President of Economic Investment Trust Limited and United Corporations Limited, two Canadian listed closed-end funds. He also serves as a member of the board of directors of several other public and private companies. Mr. Jackman is a member of the Business Council of Canada and formerly served on the Economic Advisory Council to the Minister of Finance, Government of Canada. He is also Chair of the Patron's Council for Community Living Toronto, which provides support to thousands of individuals with an intellectual disability. Mr. Jackman graduated from McGill University in Montreal.
- President / Fundamental Creative Inc.
Hilda W. Wong - Chief Legal Officer, SVP
- Chief Privacy Officer
- General Counsel
- Senior Vice President
- Chief Executive Officer
- President and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation
Mr. Ellis is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation and is responsible for the design and maintenance of strategy and operational excellence across the organization. Mr. Ellis joined First National in 2004 as Director, Capital Markets responsible for leading First National's capital markets' activities including interest rate risk management, funding, and securitization for all commercial and residential mortgage origination. Mr. Ellis was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2018 and President in 2019. On January 12, 2022, Mr. Ellis was appointed Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining First National in 2004, Mr. Ellis was with the Asset/Liability Management group at Manulife Financial and with RBC Dominion Securities in Toronto and New York where he traded fixed income and interest rate derivatives. Mr. Ellis holds a BA degree from the University of Western Ontario, an MBA degree from McMaster University and is a CFA charterholder.
- Senior Vice President
- Senior Vice President, Commercial Mortgages
Jeremy Wedgbury is Senior Vice President, Commercial Mortgages at First National. He is responsible for managing the mortgage origination team nationally and oversees the credit adjudication of First National's broad product portfolio.
Prior to joining First National, Jeremy spent 14 years working with other leading commercial mortgage lenders including Manulife Financial and Merrill Lynch Financial. He has been leading First National's origination team for the past 15 years. From 2004 to 2015, Jeremy helped the First National mortgage origination team to achieve nearly 300 per cent growth, expanding the team to include more than 30 mortgage professionals. In 2015 alone, First National's commercial team originated $6.2 billion in commercial loans, bringing mortgages under administration to $27 billion and making First National the largest commercial lender in Canada.
Jeremy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and an Urban Land Economics Diploma (Real Estate) from the University of British Columbia. He is the Past President of the Greater Toronto Chapter of NAIOP and is a sought-after speaker for industry events.
- Assistant Vice President, Commercial Financing
- Senior Member of the First National Financial Commercial Team
Jim is a senior member of the First National Financial commercial team. He brings 25 years of experience in both real estate finance and sales.
For Jim, personal service means being thoughtful and intuitive. He invests time and energy in getting to know clients' strategies, focus and business goals. That insight allows him to tap his broad market knowledge to match market opportunities with the right clients, at the right time.
In Jim's view, it's important to really care. He cares about clients, taking a long-term view and building dynamic relationships. He cares about the community, volunteering on a Board of a not-for-profit affordable housing provider. And he cares about deals, demonstrating a true passion for digging in and getting them done. Jim believes strongly in finding creative solutions and tackling challenges with composure and diplomacy.
Working at First National, Jim is inspired by the can do, will do attitude and support of the whole First National Team. He values the execution mentality and associated flat corporate structure, giving him the confidence that what he promises and presents is what he ultimately delivers to his clients.
- Chairman of the Audit Committee
- Regional VP, Commercial Financing, British Columbia and Alberta
John joined the First National team in February 2022 with a mandate of growing First National's presence, brand and credibility in the west. In his mission to lead by example, John plans to leverage his reputation, network and deep expertise in local markets.
John's career's long journey in commercial real estate has included roles in both development and lending. Having spent time as both a borrower and a lender, he has a rare perspective that affords him a 360 degree view of transactions.
When John joined Coast Capital to lead the commercial real estate group in 2012, he spearheaded a business model reset from term lending to construction lending and started the company's CMHC & Builder Finance division. As part of that transition, he reenergized and refocused the team to a direct relationship mindset. John mentors and guides from a place of curiosity and possibility thinking. Once oriented to the possibilities, he then emphasizes a pragmatic approach to discovery, focusing on the reality of the borrower, market and location. While technical proficiency and credibility are vital, John believes that a client-first mentality is the key to building meaningful, lasting connections.
Working at First National, John is excited to get back to his roots and re-immerse himself in the financial structuring and dynamics that come with figuring out deals. With a mandate to grow the team, John is looking forward to mentoring for success and promoting each person's individual credibility. He aligns with First National's philosophy of relationship first and is optimistic about the possibilities he can create for his existing and expanding network.
- Senior Analyst, Commercial Credit
Kirill joined the First National team in July 2021, bringing 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. He spent the past eight years in commercial risk management roles focusing on credit underwriting and adjudication. As a dedicated team player, Kirill takes on responsibilities with a consistent focus on the bottom line. He is a firm believer that productive relationships are vital to achieving goals. When solving problems, Kirill concentrates on the solution rather than the challenge by balancing creativity with logic. Committed to accountability and honesty both personally and professionally, Kirill emphasizes transparency and stresses integrity when making decisions.
When he is not adding value for First National borrowers, Kirill pursues passions including reading, playing golf and squash. He also spends time with family and connects with friends.
- Senior Manager, Commercial Servicing
Lena joined the First National team in 2020 after more than 30 years in the industry. Her career journey includes leadership roles in both commercial and residential mortgage servicing. With more than three decades in the industry, Lena has amassed a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which she combines with her problem solving skills and innovation mindset. Her work ethic and team building philosophy focus on gaining insight, getting it done right the first time and innovating for efficiency. As a leader, she prioritizes empowering her team, fostering open communication, sharing best practices, making sound decisions and optimizing processes. Lena enthusiastically shares her passion for mortgages and service, motivating her team to consistently grow, challenge the status quo, gain perspective, strive for results and celebrate success.
When she's not adding value for First National borrowers, Lena enjoys dinners out with family and friends and planning her next trip.
- Associate Director, Commercial Credit
Mark joined the First National team in 2020, but has been working in commercial real estate lending since 2007. His analytical skills enable him to dig into details, assess strengths and weaknesses and surface what's important. As a communicator, he is motivated to understand and deliberate the various perspectives associated with each transaction. Armed with facts and viewpoints, Mark is determined to do what it takes to facilitate sound transactions, ensure customer satisfaction and promote a productive, positive environment.
When he's not adding value for First National borrowers, Mark spends time reading, learning, watching sports, bonding with his family and enjoying dinners out.
Ms. Irman joined First National's Board after a 30+ year career in financial services. She previously served as Vice Chair of TD Securities, responsible for ensuring senior client relationship management across equity, interest rate and currency products. She also led the team responsible for Global Transaction Services and Global Lending Relationship Management and co-chaired TD Securities' Diversity and Inclusion Committee for 15 years. Ms. Irman achieved her ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors and graduated from the Advanced Management Program at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a Director of TMX Group, St. Michael's Hospital Foundation and Chair of the Board of Export Development Canada.
- Regional Vice President, Commercial Financing, Quebec and Atlantic Canada
Michael joined the First National Financial commercial team in 2018 as Vice President Quebec region. As of January 2020, Michael also took on leadership of the Atlantic team. His mandate is to lead and grow both teams and strengthen First National's presence in those markets.
Prior to joining First National, Michael spent more than 12 years working for TD Bank and National Bank, focused on commercial real estate lending. During that time, he developed a passion and proficiency for building teams and growing businesses that became authorities in the Quebec market. He relied on a relationship focus to fuel those successes.
Michael believes strongly that being available is a key ingredient for great relationships. What does that mean for him? Answering the phone after business hours. Visiting a property on a Saturday. Providing feedback and sharing insights based on what he's seen in the industry. Connecting people in his network. Once that foundation is in place, it is vital to build and maintain your reputation and brand by delivering consistently and executing with ease.
Michael has been successful in leading and growing the Quebec and Atlantic teams, impacting people's careers and sharing his expertise and contacts. He appreciates working within a structure that both promotes and enables quick execution, simplified process and heightened value for the client.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Commerce Finance degree from Concordia University's John Molson School of Business and a MBA from McGill University.
- Co - Founder
- Executive Vice President
Mr. Tawse is Executive Vice President and Secretary of the Corporation, Executive Vice President of First National and co-founder of First National. Mr. Tawse directs the operations of all of First National's commercial mortgage origination activities. With over 30 years of experience in the real estate finance industry, Mr. Tawse is one of Canada's leading experts on commercial real estate and is often called upon to deliver keynote addresses at national real estate symposiums.
- Member of the Audit Committee
- Executive Chair and Chair of the Investment Committee of Dixon Mitchell Investment Canada Inc
Mr. Mitchell was appointed Executive Chair and Chair of the Investment Committee of Dixon Mitchell Investment Canada Inc., a Vancouver-based investment management company, on January 1, 2021. From 2000 to 2020, he was President of Dixon Mitchell Investment Counsel Inc. Prior to that, he was Vice President, Investments at Seaboard Life Insurance Company. Mr. Mitchell has an MBA from the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) from the University of Calgary, and is a CFA charterholder. Mr. Mitchell sits on the board of Equestrian Canada.
- Member of the Audit Committee
- Member of the Governance Committee
Mr. Pearce serves on the board of directors of Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company and Duo Bank of Canada. Mr. Pearce spent 26 years with BMO Bank of Montreal from 1980 to 2006, most recently holding the position of President and Chief Executive Officer, Personal and Commercial Client Group. He also served on the board of directors of CPI Card Group from 2007 to 2023, MasterCard International from 1998 to 2006 and as Chairman of the Canadian Bankers' Association from 2004 to 2006. Mr. Pearce holds a BA from the University of Victoria and an MBA from the University of British Columbia. Mr. Pearce brings over 40 years of operational and leadership experience in the financial services industry to the Board of Directors.
- Senior Vice President, Residential Mortgages
- Director, Credit Adjudication
Stefan joined the First National team in July 2017, bringing six years of experience in land acquisition and development finance, which includes expert knowledge of development costs and project returns, sophisticated modeling and automation skills and a keen understanding of planning regulations and zoning applications. As part of his role in advising the origination teams, Stefan creates complex financial models to enable the comparison of conventional vs. CMHC financing. With this added insight, originators can add a layer of detail when presenting options to clients.
When he's not adding value for First National borrowers, Stefan gets his exercise through rollerblading and downhill skiing. His hobbies also include traveling and wine tasting.
- Co - Founder
- Executive Chairman
- Chairman of Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company
Mr. Smith, one of Canada's leading financial services entrepreneurs, is the Executive Chairman and Co-founder of First National Financial Corporation. He has been an innovator in the development and utilization of various securitization techniques to finance mortgage assets, as well as a leader in the development and application of information technology in the mortgage industry.
From 2006 to January 12, 2022, Mr. Smith was Chief Executive Officer of First National Financial Corporation.
Mr. Smith is Chairman of Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company, which he owns in partnership with Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. He is Chairman and co-owner of Duo Bank of Canada, formerly Walmart Canada Bank, whose subsidiary Fairstone Financial Inc., is Canada's largest non-bank consumer finance lender. Mr. Smith is the largest shareholder in Equitable Bank, Canada's Challenger Bank™. He is also Chairman of Peloton Capital Management, a North American focused private equity firm. Mr. Smith is a member of the board of directors of the C.D. Howe Institute, E-L Financial Corporation Limited and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. He is also Chairman of Historica Canada, which produces the Heritage Minutes and publishes The Canadian Encyclopedia. In 2019, Mr. Smith was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.
In 2015, Queen's University announced the naming of the Stephen J.R. Smith School of Business at Queen's University, in honour of Mr. Smith and his historic $50 million donation to the school.
Mr. Smith holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Electrical Engineering from Queen's University and an M.Sc. in Economics from the London School of Economics.
- Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Capital Markets
- Senior Manager, Commercial Funding
Veronique's career at First National began in 2011, where she has held several operations roles. As Senior Manager, she emphasizes taking responsibility and being accountable. She believes that collaborating is the best way to improve, learn and grow as individuals and as a team. An honest communicator, Veronique ensures that everyone understands targets, vision and direction. For her, transparency and clear goals create a trusting team environment. She leads by example with her optimism, stressing the importance of a positive attitude and mindset.
When she's not adding value for First National borrowers, Veronique learns new languages, watches foreign films at TIFF and absorbs the culture and history of European museums and Renaissance cities.