Stephen Smith, First National Financial (Canada)

chairman, CEO, and co-founder

Stephen Smith is the founder, chairman, and CEO of First National Financial. Smith launched the Canadian mortgage lender in 1988, just four years after being personally bankrupt, and took it public in 2012. He also owns a stake in publicly-traded Canadian bank Equitable Group as well as about half of Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company, where he serves as chairman. In 2018, he bought half of Walmart Canada Bank (now Duo Bank of Canada) from Walmart and put up more than $110 million to start the private equity fund Peloton. In 2015, he donated $50 million the Queens University, where the business school is named after him. Smith is a member of the board of directors of the C.D. Howe Institute, E-L Financial Corporation, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank. He is also chairman of Historica Canada, the producer of the “Heritage Minutes,” and publisher of The Canadian Encyclopedia. In 2012, Smith was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to Canada; and last year, was among those recognized in the Mortgage Global 100. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University and a M.Sc. in Economics from the London School of Economics.