BAFT Blog Header Banner 2917x417
  • A Message from the Chair | July 2020

    by Mark Garfield | Jul 09, 2020

    June was an eventful and important month for BAFT. Eventful due to the official formation of the Africa Council with the inaugural council meeting on June 17. The Africa Council becomes the fifth geographic council in BAFT joining the Asia, MENA, Europe, and North America Councils. Many thanks to BAFT’s President & CEO Tod Burwell for his vision and outreach, which led to the launch of this important member council. Congratulations to our newly elected Council co-chairs, Ihunanya Onuoha of Access Bank (Nigeria) and Kevin Holmes of Standard Bank (South Africa). Both will represent their respective institutions and the Africa Council on the BAFT Board of Directors.

    ‘What are the important issues to African banks?’ Members present during the first Africa Council meeting mentioned the impact and implementation of the BASEL framework, digitization of trade, education and training, and the ever-important need to maintain and grow correspondent banking partners. These concerns are much the same as mine, representing a regional bank headquartered in the Western US. Whether in the US, Africa, the Middle East or Asia, we have common challenges and a certain kinship as banks transacting global trade. What a wonderful addition the Africa Council is to our membership. A hearty welcome from myself and the rest of BAFT.

    An important undertaking in June was BAFT’s Board decision that the 2020 International Convention, originally to be held in Orlando, Florida, will now be held virtually. It is a big disappointment for me not to be able to meet in person. In my despair, fellow board member Maram Al-Jazireh shared an Arabic saying, “don’t fret over a matter that may actually be in your favor”; kind of like “making lemonade out of lemons” as my mom would say. Many in our banking membership would find it difficult to attend the Convention in Florida in 2020. So, we will be “making lemonade” by presenting the International Convention virtually. Now more of us can attend while remaining in our respective geographies. My hope is we will have greater global participation in November than ever before!

    In June, BAFT’s Trade Finance Workshop was successfully hosted virtually. Additionally, several content-rich webinars were held in April, May and June. BAFT will begin a new monthly series called the Virtual Executive Forum and we will continue to produce webinars on key important topics. The MENA Council will be presenting the Virtual Bank to Bank Forum in September, and the Virtual International Convention will take place in November. As the world changes, BAFT evolves with it. Many thanks to the BAFT Events team during this transformation to a virtual environment and to the many of you who contribute your time, talent, and knowledge in developing these outstanding programs.

    See you virtually soon!

    Mark Garfield
    BAFT Chair
    Head of Global Financial Institutions
    Zions Bancorporation

  • A Message from the Chair | June 2020

    by Mark Garfield | Jun 19, 2020

    Greetings! Firstly, I'd like to say best wishes to you and your families during this challenging and unprecedented time. I hope all of you are safe and healthy. BAFT begins its 99th year as a global banking association during unique and difficult conditions throughout the world.

    As Chair of BAFT, I plan to send a monthly “Message from the Chair” to the greater BAFT membership and hope it is worthwhile to you. It is an honor to serve this great association. The role of BAFT becomes more valuable in assisting our membership in this time of isolation. 

    The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly altered professional work practices, societal connections, day-to-day activities and familial traditions. We, by and large within the transaction banking community, have the good fortune of working from our homes and surprisingly have discovered that it is effective and efficient.

    In February, before many of the stay-at-home orders were established, I was able to visit a large pulse (peas, lentils, chickpeas) processing plant in the northwest area of the U.S. The plant employees were in a flurry of activity to prepare product for export and domestic consumption. Since that visit, demand for pulse products has increased, as noted in a March article in the New York Times. There is immense value in providing pulse products to feed the global population. In addition, the grower, harvester, processor, shipper, packager, transporter and retailer who must leave their homes each day each demonstrate their importance in keeping the food supply moving. 

    I recently spoke with a CEO of a large trading company who told me “the food supply doesn’t stop.” “Our employees are essential in helping the world get fed,” he said. A big thank-you to those who leave their houses each day to perform their work.

    Our global banking role is a crucial link in the supply and delivery of essential products. We are the ones who finance and transact this global supply chain. Our services — collecting on behalf of our clients, making payments, converting currencies, examining documents, mitigating risks, providing capital and more — are the underpinnings of this global food supply chain. Our connectivity, collaboration and industry standards are ever important in normal times but certainly in times of challenge and change.

    I look forward to this next year as we work together in facilitating trade that will culminate with the celebration of our 100th Anniversary next May. The events of today are a reminder that the work and efforts we make are essential in connecting and completing the global chain of trade.

    Thanks to you all, 

    Mark Garfield
    BAFT Chair
    Head of Global Financial Institutions
    Zions Bancorporation