Board of Directors

Collectively, the Board of Directors has extensive experience in mortgage lending, real estate, strategic planning, governance and finance. The Board consists of seven members, five of whom are independent. 

Stephen Smith, one of Canada’s leading financial services entrepreneurs, is the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer 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.

Mr. Smith is Chairman of Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company, which he owns in partnership with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. He is the largest shareholder in Equitable Bank, one of Canada’s leading alternative lenders and the country’s ninth largest bank. Mr. Smith is a member of the Board of Governors of the Royal Ontario Museum, the Board of Directors of the C. D. Howe Institute, the Empire Life Insurance Company and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. He is also Chairman of Historica Canada, producer of the Heritage Minutes and publisher of The Canadian Encyclopaedia.  In 2012, Mr Smith received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to Canada. 

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 B.Sc (Hons.) in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University and a M.Sc. in Economics from the London School of Economics. 

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.

John Brough was President of both Torwest, Inc. and Wittington Properties Limited, real estate development companies, from 1998 to December 31, 2007. Prior thereto, from 1996 to 1998, Mr. Brough was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of iSTAR Internet, Inc. Prior thereto, from 1974 to 1996, he held a number of positions with Markborough Properties, Inc., his final position being Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer which position he held from 1986 to 1996. Mr. Brough is an executive with over 40 years of experience in the real estate industry.  He is currently a director and Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee of Kinross Gold Corporation and a director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of Wheaton Precious Metals Corp.  Mr. Brough was formerly a director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of Canadian Real Estate Investment Trust from 2008 to 2018. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (Economics) from the University of Toronto and is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Chartered Accountant. He is also a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors – Director Education Program at the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. Mr. Brough is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario and Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

Duncan Jackman is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of E L Financial Corporation Limited, an investment and insurance holding company and has held similar positions with E-L Financial since 2003.  Mr. Jackman is also the Chairman and President of Economic Investment Trust Limited and United Corporations Limited, both closed-end investment corporations, and has acted in a similar capacity with these corporations since 2001.  Mr. Jackman sits on the boards of E-L Financial Corporation Limited, United Corporations Limited and Economic Investment Trust Limited.  Mr. Jackman is also a Trustee of Dream Global Real Estate Investment Trust and a Director of Dream Unlimited Corp.  Prior to 2001, Mr. Jackman held a variety of positions including portfolio manager at Cassels Blaikie and investment analyst at RBC Dominion Securities Inc.  Mr. Jackman holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University.

Mr. Mitchell President has been President of Dixon Mitchell Investment Counsel Inc., a Vancouver-based investment management company since 2000.  Prior to that, Mr. Mitchell was Vice President, Investments at Seaboard Life Insurance Company.  Mr. Mitchell has an MBA from the University of Western Ontario, a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) from the University of Calgary, and is a CFA charterholder.  Mr. Mitchell sits on the board of Equestrian Canada.

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 Boards of TD Asset Management USA Funds Inc. in New York, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Crombie Real Estate Investment Trust.  Her previous board experience includes the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, whose Governance Committee she chaired, 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, Economics) degree from Queen’s University, and has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2004).

Robert Pearce serves on the board of directors of Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company, First American Payment Systems and CPI Card Group.  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 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 a MBA from the University of British Columbia.  Mr. Pearce brings to the board over 30 years of operational and leadership experience in the financial services industry.