State Street Boston Corp.'s new president and chief operating officer says he will be making changes in 1996, but he characterized them as more tactical than strategic.

"We like our strategy the way it is," David A. Spina, 52, said in a telephone interview last week. "My focus will be custody, custody, custody."

State Street is one of the largest custody banks in the world, servicing more than $2.2 trillion of investors' assets. This core business helped drive fees, the company's largest source of revenue, to $283.8 million in the third quarter, up 12% from the year-earlier period.

Mr. Spina said State Street ran the risk of losing focus, particularly in the custody business, as it continued to grow and expand overseas.

At the same time it announced Mr. Spina's promotion from chief financial officer, on Dec. 21 State Street said it had formed a new custody unit to operate under Mr. Spina's direct supervision.

The new unit will bring together all of State Street's custody activities, including line and support areas and the corporate systems and technology group.

"We're making sure we have under one organizational unit not only the customer service area but the corporate support systems and technology that are needed to deliver the best custody services in the world," Mr. Spina said.

Mr. Spina now has a title that had been essentially unused since 1992, when William S. Edgerly retired as chairman. State Street's current chairman and chief executive officer is Marshall N. Carter, who joined in 1991 from Chase Manhattan Corp.

Analysts said they did not expect any real change of direction at State Street, given that Mr. Spina had been serving in the chief financial position since 1977 and as a vice chairman since 1992.

"He has essentially been the No. 2 guy there, title or no title," said Merrill Lynch's Livia S. Asher. "He's certainly been more than just CFO. So I don't think anything is going to change there."

Mr. Spina is a career State Streeter. He joined the company in 1969 as a credit analyst after receiving a BS degree from the College of the Holy Cross and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He also served a tour of duty in Vietnam as a naval officer.

By 1977, after a stint in commercial lending, Mr. Spina was responsible for all areas of finance and control including internal auditing, financial reporting, and planning. He was elected executive vice president in 1982, with additional oversight of human resources, legal, marketing, public affairs, and operations.

Mr. Spina took a seat on the State Street board in 1989, three years before becoming vice chairman.

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