Swift CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt is to step down after seven years at the helm of the bank-backed international payments network.
Leibbrandt's departure from the Brussels-based co-operative comes at a time of intense change in the technology landscape. Swift is facing existential threats on a number of fronts, with rival blockchain-based networks from likes of Ripple, IBM and even Visa promising a new era of low cost real-time cross-border payments, bypassing the traditional correspondent banking routes.
Liebbrandt has responded to the competition with the roll out of Swift gpi, a set of service-level agreements that promise end-to-end tracking and near real-time delivery of messages flowing over the network.
Rival services are not the only worry facing the co-operative, with the dangers faced from hackers high up the agenda following a string of successful multi-million dollar heists by cybercriminals penetrating bank defences.
Swift chairman Yawar Shah, says of Leibbrandt: “During his time as CEO, the industry has faced unprecedented change and challenges. Gottfried has ensured Swift remains on a sound financial footing, reinforced Swift’s risk and security functions; overseen an overhaul of Swift’s technology; dramatically modernised payments - and at the same time ensured Swift has responded well and wisely to threats."
Liebbrandt has given the Board six months notice of his intention to quit, setting in motion a search for a successor. Stephan Zimmermann, deputy chairman and chair of the board’s Human Resources Committee, says the organistion will conduct "a rigorous search process which will look both inside and outside the organisation".
Leibbrandt says that after seven years in the role, the time is right to move on: “I want to thank my colleagues, the Board and our community. My time at Swift has been great from start to finish, and I will miss it - but with the company in great shape and a solid management team in place, the seven year mark feels the right point at which to hand over the reins to a new leader."