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Swift mourns passing of first CEO Reuterskiöld

29 March 2006  |  7786 views  |  0 Carl Reuterskiöld, Swift founder

Financial messaging network Swift has announced the death of Carl Reuterskiöld, the interbank co-operative's first CEO from 1973 to 1983. He died peacefully on 20 March at the age of 83.

Reuterskiöld - known as 'Charlie' to friends and family - launched the bank-to-bank network in 1973 in a forty square metre office in the centre of Brussels, with a handful of people.

Although the concept of an interbank messaging network to replace telexes was initially conceived by Swift's first chairman Johannes Kraa, the job of steering the fledgeling company to growth was handed to Charlie Reuterskiöld, then vice president of international banking and cards at American Express. Legend has it that the Swift name was coined by Reuterskiöld's wife, who was also credited with designing the distinctive 'Man from Uncle' style logo.

Three years after launch, Reuterskiöld inaugurated the first operating centre in The Netherlands; and within five years, he proudly announced that 10 million messages had been exchanged in less than 12 months.

By 1982, one year prior to Reuterskiöld's retirement, Swift had achieved financial stability, with revenues from membership, traffic and geographical expansion exceeding costs for the first time. Finally, and to crown his tenure as Swift CEO, he welcomed Banque Nationale de Belgique as the 1000th Swift member bank.

Leonard Schrank, the incumbent Swift CEO is among the many current and former Swift staffers who lined up to pay tribute to Reuterskiöld's vision and inspirational leadership.

"It seemed an impossible mission: to bring banks that compete together to co-operate; to standardise the way banks communicated with each other; to harness computers in ways never foreseen; to create a global network. To many, this was mission impossible, but not for Charlie. He was a technical wizard, a diplomat and an inspiring leader. Charlie set the direction, hired the team and laid the foundation for Swift's success. We see his legacy today."

At the end of February, daily volumes over SwiftNet FIN passed 12 million for the first time, setting a new peak of 12,031,411 messages.

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