CLS appoints ex-Swift CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt as Chair

Rick Steves

CLS has appointed Gottfried Leibbrandt as its new Chair, effective 17 May 2022, and succeeding Ken Harvey, who retired after ten years as a member of the Board, eight of which as chair.

The financial market infrastructure delivering settlement, processing and data solutions across the global FX ecosystem has also appointed five new members to its Board of Directors (Board) at the CLS Annual General Meeting.

The new directors on the board are Brian Gallagher (JPMorgan Chase), Federica Mazzucato, (UBS Investment Bank), Hari Moorthy (Goldman Sachs), Paolo Muzzarelli (Credit Suisse) and Oliver Stuart (Morgan Stanley).

The CLS Board now comprises 21 directors in total, eight of whom are designated as outside or independent directors.

Gottfried Leibbrandt ran Swift from 2012 to 2019

Gottfried Leibbrandt, who was voted Chair of CLS after being a member of the Board since 2021, was most recently Chief Executive Officer of Swift, a role he held from 2012 to 2019.

At Swift, Gottfried Leibbrandt held several roles since 2005, including Head of Marketing, Head of Standards and Director of Strategy and Business Development. Prior to that, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company where he focused on financial institutions, with a specific focus on payments and transactions.

Marc Bayle de Jessé, Chief Executive Officer at CLS, said: “These latest appointments to our Board bring together unrivalled industry expertise and extensive market infrastructure knowledge. We are fortunate to have them on board to guide our decisions and help position the organization well for its next phase of growth.”

Gottfried Leibbrandt, Chair of CLS, commented: “Now is a pivotal time for the FX industry and CLS’s role is more important than ever. I look forward to working with my fellow Board members and the executive team as we – as a systemically important financial market infrastructure – enhance our offering to provide additional value for our clients and the broader market.”

In a recent interview with McKinsey, Gottfried Leibbrandt spoke about Bitcoin, the role of crypto in payments, and the future for banks.

“I have been fascinated with Bitcoin from the start. I found it genius, pure genius: the way it’s engineered; the protocol; that you can have a payment without any individual backing it, without a state behind it; and that it purely relies on the math of the crypto algorithms that drive it. I think the whole concept of mining is very cleverly engineered. So I’ve been fascinated by it from the start.”

“On the other hand, I’ve seen that it hasn’t really broken through as a payment mechanism. I mean, Bitcoin is not accepted in a lot of places. So it’s proven a great store of value, if you will. It’s a great replacement of gold. Whether that will last, we’ll see. But it’s not a great transaction mechanism. Now, that could change if new technologies, other forms of crypto, are introduced.”

“I think it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens if central banks throw their weight behind it. Will that make it a better transaction mechanism with perhaps different technologies behind it? I don’t know. I’d like to think that it will challenge the banks. That’s always good. On the other hand, I don’t think the current payment system will sit still. From a payment perspective, we’ve come a long way from a world where cross-border payments were almost impossible to make. The banking system is becoming real time as we speak. So a lot of the problems that crypto tries to solve are being solved anyway.”

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