Nelson Smith – Class of 1967

Retired Investment Banker Toronto; CA, BASc at UofT

From Nelson: After earning degrees in engineering and accounting, Nelson followed his nose and frittered away the remainder of his second decade trying to be a film producer.

Fortunately for him, he finally saw the light and became an investment banker (possibly his true calling), eventually helping to steer Yorkton Securities, an investment firm, onto a new track during his tenure from 1992 to 2004.  By focusing on emerging technology and biotechnology companies and by pioneering financing techniques suited to the then-nascent shift from tangible- to intangible-asset-based companies, Nelson’s firm emerged as a leader in a fast-emerging sector, surfacing, or helping to surface, a number of great technology companies, like Research in Motion, COM DEV, and Open Text, into the public capital markets.  The fact that Yorkton blew up as part of the “tech wreck” has not diminished his pride and satisfaction in what it managed to accomplish.

Yorkton was also a leader in financing Canada’s film & TV producers, companies like Alliance, Atlantis, AllianceAtlantis, Nelvana, Salter Street Films and Lions Gate Entertainment and Nelson was a member of the board of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for a number of years.  It could be argued that his vain attempt to become a film producer all those years ago bore fruit after all.

Now long-retired, divorced, and with two grown sons, he has spent his golden years being Mr. Mom, teaching chess to elementary school pupils and playing in a rock band that performs songs from — you guessed it — the 60s.

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