The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the bank-owned financial messaging network, named Jean Marie Weydert as chairman during its annual general meeting in Brussels.
Mr. Weydert, 60, the society's deputy chairman since 1995, replaces Eric Chilton, who retired after four years at Swift's top post.
Mr. Weydert's successor is Yawar Shah, 36, a senior vice president at Chase Manhattan Corp., New York, and one of two U.S. representatives on Swift's 25-member board of directors.
Officials categorized the executive changes as the next evolutionary phase of the 22-year-old network.
Mr. Chilton, a former an executive at Barclays Bank PLC, London, "did a wonderful job of moving Swift into the new era," said Leonard Schrank, the network's chief executive officer.
Swift carried 600 million messages in 1995, with an average daily dollar figure of more than $2 trillion.
The network, which connects 5,300 bank customers in 137 countries, is seeking to expand its role in providing cross-border securities trading services to its banking participants.
To that end, Swift shareholders approved a new membership category that allows partial access of the network by vendors of electronic trade confirmation services.
Major vendors include the International Securities Market Association Ltd., the London Stock Exchange, and Thomson Electronic Settlements Group. (The latter is a unit of Thomson Financial Services, which owns American Banker.)
Swift officials and the electronic trade confirmation vendors want to develop standards to achieve automated securities processing after trades are executed.
Failed trades during the settlement and clearing process are estimated to cost banks and brokers as much as $25 billion a year, according to preliminary research by Swift.
The three vendors collectively process more than 90% of all electronic securities trade confirmations, and have recently voiced concerns to Swift about its lack of guidance on how to create and pay for new linkages between banks, investment managers, and broker-dealers.
But some electronic trade confirmation officials question Swift's larger ambitions, contending it may build a competing service.
"We are cautiously optimistic," said Ann Buckelew, a Boston-based marketing manager at Thomson Electronic Settlements, but the vote that allows access to electronic trade confirmation is "still very vague."
"As far as we know, the proposal that was voted on still doesn't address any of the issues that were brought up," she said.
But Mr. Schrank called the vote "good for the banks, good for the fund managers, good for the brokers, and really good for the ETC service providers."
He said the vote will give Swift members and electronic trade confirmation customers "access to their counter parties anywhere in the world."
"They should be jumping up and down and breaking open champagne bottles."