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January 18, 2019

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January 18, 2019

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 Memories & Condolences
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October 9, 2018
HOBOKEN, NJOctober 8, 2018

Goodbye and farewell dear Charlie. Your professional achievements and the way you revolutionized the Financial Industry are quite well known, therefore, there is not much I could add to it. I simply wish to share with your admirers and loved ones some insights on how your powerful brain worked by illustrating, through a specific example, how you combined theoretical research methods with experimental testing techniques to formulate the theories and create the products, which enabled you to turn Bankers Trust into one of the most innovative and most admired banks in the world.
It was the spring of the year 1993 when Charlie summoned me in his office for what he labeled as a private conversation. Having received several similar calls before, I thought the subject of the conversation was going to be a topic very dear to Charlie, i.e., what are we doing to ensure that the leadership position in technology Bankers Trust had achieved is sustained in the future. Instead, Charlie was working on a Research Paper on the vision he had of the Financial Industry over the coming decades, and he wanted to explore further certain concepts and analogies, he and I had occasionally discussed, on the applicability of scientific theories to the world of finance. He was also looking for assurances that the technology needed to support his visionary ideas was going to be there by the time it was needed. The first conversation was followed by several other conversations on the subject and it was during these conversations that Charlie refined and perfected the final version of his Research Paper titled Financial Markets in 2020.
If a hidden observer had listened to our conversations, he/she would have never guessed we were trying to explore the future of the financial industry. Indeed, especially early on, most of our time was spent on exploring the evolution of Newtonian Physics, all the way to Quantum Mechanics and modern Particle Physics, with Charlie speculating (and, at times, postulating) that a similar evolution was already underway in the financial industry. Ultimately, Charlie labeled this phenomenon Particle Finance Theory. Another hot topic of the debate was the time it had taken (about three centuries) for Newtonian Physics to progress and evolve into Particle Physics. Again, Charlie speculated that the evolution process of the Particle Finance Theory would have been much faster: more than an order of magnitude faster, he predicted, and the calendar year 2020, embedded in the title of his research paper, was not a guess, but the result of his prediction. Upon its completion, the research paper Financial Markets in 2020 was presented to a group of bankers at the International Money Fund gathering and, according to several bankers who had attended the meeting, was extremely well received.
Both Charlie and I retired from Bankers Trust in the mid-late 90s, within a couple of years from each other, and the research paper he had published in 1993 faded in our memories. Indeed, in the frequent contacts and conversations he and I had in the ensuing years, I do not recall a single instance when this topic was ever discussed.
Fast forward to the year 2014, when, on behalf of an Assets Management firm, I was evaluating the state-of-the-art of technology of a firm specializing in advertising. Since I had very little knowledge of the advertising industry, as a first step, I did some research to understand the dynamics of this industry. Upon reading a research publication by James Raymond Associates on Digital Advertising Technology, I was startled when reading the following:
Ad exchanges provide a marketplace where advertising inventory can be bought and sold in real time. Ad Exchanges are similar to financial or stock market exchanges, in that they provide transparency, liquidity, and real market prices. [Excerpt from James Raymond Research Publication].
I stopped reading the James Raymond publication and immediately retrieved the 1993 research paper of Charlie Sanford, looking for a very similar statement that was swirling in my mind and which reads as follows:
Global electronic bulletin boards will be the principal medium through which buyers and sellers will post their needs and execute transactions. Many financial claims (including what are known today as loans and securities) will bypass middlemen (commercial and investment banks) and will be bought and sold by electronic auction through these global bulletin boards, with minimal transaction costs. [Excerpt from Financial Markets in 2020].
Aside from the fact that the first sentence of the excerpt from Charlie's paper was using the expression global electronic bulletin boards when referring to exchanges, the meaning of the two excerpts was identical! What Charlie had predicted 20 years earlier, not only was a reality, but had also spread beyond the Financial Industry! Furthermore, the methodology used by buyers and sellers to transact business, described in the second sentence of the above Financial Markets in 2020 excerpt, is exactly how the new advertising ecosystem works.
People like myself, who have seen Charlie engage, over the years, on concepts like Particle Finance Theory, RAROC, VAR, Loan Funding techniques, etc., know that this way of thinking was natural to him and it is the implementation of these concepts in the Bankers Trust environment that enabled the transformation of a laggard institution into one of the most prestigious banks in the world.
Charlie, on behalf of myself and all of the technologists who worked for you at Bankers Trust, I salute you! Your superior mind, your highest ethical standards, your leadership characteristics, your disciplined working habits and your teachings have always been a source of inspiration for all of us. We will miss you, but you will live forever in our memories and in our hearts!
Mary, to you and your family, our deepest condolences.
Carmine Vona

P.S. Carmine Vona, a nuclear physicist by education, for many years worked as CIO at Bankers Trust under Charlie Sanford.
September 19, 2018
My deepest condolences for your loss may the grace of God bring comfort and peace to your family.the promise that God set before us all give us hope Act 24:15.
September 16, 2018
Charles Sanford was a good friend.....We extend our sincere condolences to the Sanford family.....Dan & Jane Pruitt... Savannah,Ga.
September 14, 2018
Wishing you and your family peace...

Dick and Ann Elnicki