25 years of lending – No Foolin’!

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Canada’s largest monoline will mark 25 years in the industry on April 1.

“The past 25 years have been an incredible journey for First National and it’s time to show our sincere appreciation to those who have helped our company become the leader that it is today,” said Stephen Smith, chairman and president of First National. “It’s my pleasure to kick off a year by saying thank you to our customers.”


The celebration is called “Thank You for 25 Years of Shared Successes” and will feature a number of customer, employee and mortgage broker events and contests throughout the year.

First National’s growth parallels the development of the mortgage broker industry, when the channel had only a single-digit market share. Today, almost 30 per cent of all mortgages in the country are originated by the independent professionals who make up the broker channel.

“Mortgage brokers have played an important role in the service of home buyers and as key contributors to the growth of First National,” says Scott McKenzie, vice president of residential mortgages. “Their professionalism, independence, insight and advice make mortgage brokers the trusted choice for Canadians from coast to coast, and we can’t think of a better way to say ‘thank you’ than by making them a focal point of our 25th anniversary.”

Founded on March 31, 1988, by Stephen Smith and Moray Tawse, First National revenues were approximately $200,000 from a humble office located above the Fox & Firkin pub at 51 Eglinton Avenue East in Toronto. Fast forward to 2012, those numbers have exploded, with an MUA surpassing $67 billion and revenues reaching a record $628.6 million, making the lender the largest non-bank originator and underwriter of mortgages in Canada. It’s perennially among the top three in market share in the mortgage broker channel, despite weathering a broker backlash when the lender cut broker fees by 5 bps in August, only to return the commissions back to 80 bps early this year.

A CMHC-approved lender by 1991, First National had introduced MERLIN a decade later in 2001, the industry’s first online mortgage approval and tracking system – which is being expanded this year to enhance commercial mortgage administration and investor communications.

“We owe a debt of thanks to mortgage brokers for our success,” says Smith. “We wouldn’t be here today with them.”


  • Frank on 2013-03-28 7:49:12 AM

    Congratulations on your success!

  • Joe the Broker on 2013-03-28 8:26:51 AM

    The best Broker supporting lender out there...

  • Michael Lloyd on 2013-03-28 9:08:03 AM

    Congratulations First National, and thanks for being such a great partner to the Canadian Mortgage Broker!

  • George Dannewald on 2013-03-28 10:35:46 AM

    I too wish to congratulate you on this 25th anniversary. I had enjoyed many years dealing with First National, but unfortunately when I moved to my current company over 2 years ago, I discovered that none of our 60 + agents are allowed to deal with you, and your BDO is quite adamant about it so have been forced to go elsewhere. Good luck in the next 25 years.

  • Paul Bath CPMB on 2013-03-28 1:40:22 PM

    Having been in the Industry alongside First National for 24 years, it's great seeing them grow so well and continue with their strong support of Mortgage Brokers and associations such as IMBA

  • Gary Mauris on 2013-03-28 8:51:07 PM

    Stephen, congrats on 25 years. First National is a phenomenal partner with DLC. Huge kudo's to you and all your loyal staff that work so hard. A special shout out to Scott Mckenzie and Ben Kawa, you guys are ROCKSTARS!!! You are an amazing lender and our company is a very proud supporter of your organization!!!!

  • Alex Bruce on 2013-04-11 7:32:34 AM

    Thank you everyone for the positive feedback and to Donald for the great article!

    I have been part of First National for 11 years and am so grateful for all the amazing brokers and partners I now have as friends.

    George, Thanks for your support over the years! Even though we are not able to work on deals together, that doen't mean we can't keep in touch. Take care and be well.

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