A Message from the Chair – July 2020

On July 09, BAFT’s Board Chair, Mark Garfield, published his monthly communication to the wider BAFT membership.

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