Until earlier this year Smee was chief executive of the Payments Council and, prior to that, the founding director general of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers.
He also previously worked for the Independent Television Commission, the Association of British Insurers, the London Stock Exchange and the then Department of Trade and Industry.
Colin Walsh, chairman of the CML, says: “I am delighted to confirm the appointment of Paul Smee as CML director-general. He brings with him a wealth of experience, and a successful track record in delivering for trade bodies and their members. I am sure that with Paul at the helm, the CML will continue to show strong, effective industry leadership.
“Let me also pay tribute to Michael Coogan, who has steered the CML so capably since 1997, and who will undoubtedly be a hard act to follow.”
Smee adds:“I will be seeking to build on the strong reputation that the CML has built up over many years on behalf of its members, in this vital part of the UK economy. I am looking forward to taking up so important a role at such a crucial time.”