A Message from the Chair – December 2020

On December 17 BAFT’s Board Chair, Mark Garfield, published his monthly communication to the wider BAFT membership.

Each year at this time, my wife and I send out seasonal holiday cards to former work colleagues, old high school chums, family, and friends. For some, we’ve had no contact for 40 years other than the giving and receiving of our annual holiday greeting. It’s a joy to receive a card from a long-ago acquaintance with an updated family photo and a simple note. Over time some of my cherished connections were lost. Thus, the address list is of the utmost value. Well, last year, I lost the address list. My wife did not lose it; I did…oops. We tried our best to reconstruct the addresses. But, alas, we lost some connections that we may never recover.

This reminded me of another prized list: my bank’s RMA list. And like my seasonal greeting card, over the years we’ve lost a few RMAs, which also caused some difficulties. The RMA exchange is the lifeblood for a regional bank like mine to connect with the larger global banking community. It is how a Main Street bank assists a Main Street company in moving products or buying products overseas. The RMA challenge is not unique to my bank. Regional banks in MENA, Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean have all informed me of this significant challenge.

At BAFT, the RMA issue is a key priority. The association created a working group to identify the challenges and determine possible solutions. Amy Sahm from Fulton Bank, a BAFT Board member and a key leader in this RMA working group, presented some findings from the group at the 2020 Virtual Regional Bank Conference in October. The working group identified current tools that may be useful in our efforts to maintain and grow RMA permissions. There is more to be done and your input or suggestions are welcome as we look at the broader global effect. This winter, BAFT plans to hold an all-member collaborative webinar in partnership with SWIFT to address and assist in this RMA effort.

I believe that with the help of BAFT, our industry can find ways to keep the RMA exchange as complete and vibrant as possible, allowing for all of us to maintain our valued connections. More to come. And if you didn’t get my holiday card this year, I need your address!

May your holiday season be full of joy.

Mark Garfield
BAFT Chair
Head of Global Financial Institutions
Zions Bancorporation