Swift sharpens commercial edge with new recruits

Swift sharpens commercial edge with new recruits

Financial messaging network Swift has plundered the banking and vendor community for new recruits in an effort to capitalise on the introduction of the IP-based SwiftNet system and drive a new five-year plan.

The recruitment drive is part of the Belgium-based co-operative's strategy to strengthen its commercial focus, particularly in product management and sales, says Swift CEO Leonard Schrank.

"Now that the SwiftNet migration is complete, the spotlight is moving from our IT and operations to our commercial divisions," he states.

The company's executive committee is currently formulating a new five-year plan, dubbed Swift2010, which will be presented to the Swift Board and community by the end of 2006.

Spearheading this effort is Gottfried Leibbrandt, who joins the Society after 18 years at McKinsey, where he was a principal in the consultancy's financial services practice and co-founder of its European payments practice. In the new role of director of strategy and development, reporting to CEO Schrank, Leibbrandt will be charged with driving Swift's strategic evolution and providing greater cohesion between commercial activities and the market.

In the core banking industry division, Swift has hired NY Fed veteran Gary Bertone and Geoffrey de Schrevel, formerly of Unisys Consulting, as head of market infrastructures and head of payments market repectively.

Bertone takes over from Harry Newman - who takes on new responsibilities as director of FIN and messaging - and is responsible for managing Swift’s relationship with the major payments market infrastructures. De Schrevel, who previously held senior positions with Advalvas Group, Maestro International and Europay International, is charged with driving the development of SwiftSolutions in the payments space. Both will report to Lázaro Campos, who heads up Swift's banking industry division.

In the interface business, Swift has hired telecomms specialist Paolo Bernini as head of direct connectivity products, and Paul Shetler, formerly Microsoft's managing director for the financial services industry in Emea, who will focus on the interface add-on business.

Swift is also looking to sharpen its commercial front-end by establishing a new global sales services (GSS) division under Amanda Westwood, the Society's director of customer operations. Westwood says the new unit will work in tandem with local banking and securities sales staff to ensure deep support for SwiftNet and the 2010 initiative by putting technical resources closer to customers. To this end, Swift has tapped up Christian Sarafidis of Controlware as GSS senior manager for Asia-Pacific, and JPMorgan's Nancy Pierce for the equivalent position in New York.

GSS will also manage a new 'CIO reach' programme, which will seek to engage directly with chief information officers to gain insights into top-level technical challenges in the financial services industry.

Says Schrank: "We want to work with our members, to identify proprietary systems throughout the organisation that can benefit from adopting SwiftNet and our SwiftSolutions. These senior officers have the job scope and budget authority to rationalise their banks’ systems end to end. Our CIO reach programme should be a big benefit to them."

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