First National Financial appoints new president and CEO

The lender also elevates previous CEO to executive chairman of the board

First National Financial appoints new president and CEO
Duffie Osental

First National Financial Corporation has announced the appointments of Stephen Smith as executive chairman of the board and Jason Ellis as president, chief executive officer, and director.

Smith co-founded First National in 1988, and since taking the company public in 2006 has served as the company's founding chairman and CEO. In the newly created role of executive chairman, he will continue to provide strategic guidance to the management team.

Read more: First National Financial reports robust Q3 performance

Ellis joined First National in 2004 with responsibility for the company’s treasury and capital markets activities. He was appointed chief operating officer in 2018 and added the title of president in 2019. 

In his new role, Ellis will be responsible for day-to-day operations and the design and maintenance of strategy.

Prior to joining First National, Ellis served in 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.

"Jason is uniquely qualified to lead First National as my natural successor,” Smith said. “For close to 20 years, he has played increasingly important strategic roles within our business and, at every stage has made meaningful contributions to value creation. Passing the baton to Jason is something that I am pleased to do as I know he will take First National to the next level of achievement for the benefit of our employees, customers, partners and shareholders."

"First National became one of Canada's leading non-bank lenders because of the entrepreneurship of Stephen Smith and Moray Tawse,” Ellis said. “I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead the company they founded and pleased that Stephen will serve as our executive chairman, where he will continue to contribute to the success of our business. I look forward to working closely with Stephen and the other 1,600 dedicated professionals at First National to further the company's legacy of service, innovation and growth."