A Message from the Chair – September 2020

On September 18, BAFT’s Board Chair, Mark Garfield, published his monthly communication to the wider BAFT membership.

Growing up reading science fiction and watching futuristic shows like Star Trek, people were transported in their personal flying machines and called each other using devices where they could literally see the other person…crazy stuff. I dreamed that one day I could fly around my neighborhood but instead waited in competition with my eight other family members to use one rotary dial telephone line. Today I met virtually with five speakers in preparation for BAFT’s upcoming Crystal Ball Series – Banking Outlook. The speakers resided in New York, Belgium, South Africa, India, and Washington, DC. Talk about space travel.

BAFT just wrapped up its first virtual conference for the 2020 MENA Bank to Bank Forum to a big success. More than 500 people and 200 institutions joined from 43 different countries to hear representatives from many industry sectors such as big-tech, fintech, pharma, travel, and hospitality. There were more participants than ever before at a BAFT MENA event. From wherever we sat, we heard valuable insights and opinions about the future of various industries, their challenges, and opportunities. It was a global classroom.

The irony in this time of isolation, distancing and stay-at-home routines, is that we are meeting and connecting more easily than ever before with people around the world. With my meetings today, I seemed to have traveled around the globe meeting industry leaders discussing both relevant and current topics. For someone that has spent his entire career in in-person meetings, this has been quite a transformation. As was stated in the 2020 Virtual MENA Bank to Bank Forum by various speakers, the speed and pace of change have increased at warp speed these past few months affecting all industries. The question becomes, how does our business adapt and grow in this time of rapid change?

I look forward to in-person meetings again. I miss cheering in a crowd of a football or rugby match, listening with others at the symphony and outdoor concerts, eating in a popular restaurant, and meeting with you at BAFT events. I will likely never pilot a personal flying machine, that’s probably a good thing, but I will still need to strap on and hold tight to stay current in this accelerated time of change.

Our next series of events, Around the Globe: The BAFT Crystal Ball Series begins September 29th. This program is organized to provide industry-specific information and insight to navigate our ever-changing and fast-paced world. You don’t want to miss it or you may find yourself left behind with a rotary phone and traveler’s checks in hand!

See you soon.

Mark Garfield
BAFT Chair
Head of Global Financial Institutions
Zions Bancorporation