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A Message from the Outgoing Chair

by Mark Garfield | Jun 03, 2021
On June 3 BAFT's Outgoing Board Chair, Mark Garfield, published his last monthly communication to the wider BAFT membership.

During BAFT's 2021 Virtual Global Annual Meeting next week, we will celebrate the association's 100th anniversary. I imagine the first meeting in 1921 was not global; just a few men in a small conference room in Cleveland, Ohio smoking cigarettes and discussing foreign trade. Next week's meeting will have 1,500+ attendees representing financial partners from around the world in a virtual event discussing topics such as artificial intelligence, open banking, and digitization. Yet, many of the conversations between us are likely the same: how to integrate globally to support the worldwide flow of goods and services, and how to recover following a global pandemic. 

My maternal grandmother was a young adult in 1918, and she recorded her memories of the challenges, deaths, and scarcities during the Spanish Flu. She wrote, “It was a very sad and dark time. It was hard to be cheerful. I hope and pray it never comes again." I’ve reflected on my grandma Verna’s experience many times this past year. What is different? What is similar? It's interesting to reflect that the first BAFT meeting also came on the heels of a global pandemic. This time, though, we are fortunate to have modern technology that allows us to stay connected, share best practices, and collaborate to solve problems. Over the past 100 years, our industry's support of the global supply chain has grown more important and sophisticated, and I expect another 100 years of progress.

It has been an honor to serve as the Chair of BAFT for the past two years. I've enjoyed working with the BAFT staff, its Board of Directors, Regional Councils, planning and product committees, and individual members. I've observed the tremendous effort made to transform BAFT into a virtual global association and expand its reach and role, and I am pleased that our four regional councils of North America, Europe, MENA, and Asia became five with the addition of the African Council.

As Chair, I represented Zions Bancorporation, a regional U.S. bank headquartered in the Rocky Mountains. Our new Chair, Maram Al-Jazireh, represents Arab Bank, headquartered in Amman Jordan, which is the first time the Chair has been held outside Europe or North America. It’s exciting and gratifying that BAFT truly has become a global organization.

My grandmother survived the Spanish Flu, and I knew her only as cheerful. She made it through those difficult days and would frequently marvel at all the many innovations that were developed after 1918. I look forward to a future of innovation, collaboration, connection, and friendship with you all. 

Cheers!

Mark Garfield
Outgoing BAFT Chair
Head of Global Financial Institutions
Zions Bancorporation