James Peter (“Pete”) Morrow was an international banker who arrived in Ulaanbaatar in 2000 on a temporary assignment to privatize a failing state-owned bank, and ended up staying for the rest of his life, making Mongolia his home, where he became a transformative leader in financial services, regulatory reform, civil society, transparency, education, and the arts. Pete died peacefully at the age of 68 on August 4 in a Seattle hospital, surrounded by his wife and children.
Pete is survived by his wife, Pagma, his youngest daughter Sara, and two adult children in the United States, Amy (Seattle, WA) and Charles (Phoenix, AZ), both of whom are lawyers. A memorial service will be held later in August at a date to be announced.
Pete’s family has requested that friends wishing to honor Pete’s memory make contributions to the Arts Council of Mongolia:
Bank name: Xac Bank
Swift code: CAXBMNUB
Peter Morrow Memorial Fund: USD account 5001840795
Питер Моуроу Дурсгалын Сан: MNT account 5001840281
American friends may alternatively contribute to the Memorial Fund through the Arts Council of Mongolia-US, based in Seattle:
The North America-Mongolia Business Council joins Pete’s family and the thousands of his friends and colleagues in mourning Pete, not only because he was our active Vice Chairman for 13 years, but also because he was the living truth of the proposition that one man can make a difference. Pete made a huge difference for the many people whose lives he touched.
He believed that every problem, no matter how large or daunting, had an ethical solution if only we work hard enough to find it and worked even harder to implement it. Pete understood the importance of coalitions and NGOs in a democracy. He inspired, motivated and led others by word and example to embrace a muscular optimism towards change. Brilliantly pragmatic, Pete always recognized that change was a sedimentary process of consensus, requiring unrelenting persistence, patience and persuasion. Whatever he did, and wherever he went, he kept his conscience for his guide.
NAMBC Chairman Frank Herbert said “Pete was unambiguously convinced of the enormous talent, capacity and potential of the Mongolian people and he committed all his own considerable abilities to help realize that potential and to convince overseas investors that Mongolia’s greatest asset is Mongolians. Pete had a confident vision for Mongolia’s future; his passing is a sad loss.”
Pete was most recently a partner in NovaTerra, a financial advisory and project management firm in Ulaanbaatar. From 2000 to 2010, he was the CEO of Khan Bank, initially as leader of a World Bank and USAID project team to restructure the bank. After successfully privatizing the bank in 2003, he was asked to continue as CEO of Khan Bank, and steered it to become the largest and most profitable bank in Mongolia, serving 80% of households with over 500 offices. Under Pete’s direction, Khan Bank also set new high standards for corporate philanthropy and community involvement, which other companies adopted as a model.
He was the founder of the Arts Council of Mongolia, founder and chairman of the board of trustees of the American University of Mongolia (AUM), founding chairman of the Business Council of Mongolia (BCM), the NAMBC’s brother organization in Ulaanbaatar, and served as one of the few foreigners ever appointed to the board of directors of the Mongolian Stock Exchange. At various times, he served as a board member at XacBank LLC, Asia-Pacific Investment Partners, Development Bank of Mongolia, Newcom Group and Eznis Airways.
In his sixteen years in Mongolia, Pete was regularly consulted by parliamentary leaders and government officials as well as international organizations and visiting corporate executives on economic, commercial and public policy issues. For new-to-Mongolia companies, no UB itinerary was complete without meeting with Pete. In a real sense, he was the dean of the business community. Pete was honored as “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2001 by the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce; as “Banker of the Year” in 2002 by Mongolia’s Central Bank; and as “Investment Envoy of the Year” in 2003 by the Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency.
He was twice decorated by the President of Mongolia: in 2007, he was awarded the Order of the Polar Star after in 2005 receiving the Friendship Medal. Pete earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard College and subsequently attended Georgetown University Law Center and Loyola University Law School.