A top Wall Street exec explains what New York's doormen reveal about doing business in America

When Slawomir Krupa moved to New York in 2015, he had a lot to learn.

The head of Societe Generale Americas had previously run a group of businesses in Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa before his move to the US. Taking up his role meant moving to a new city, a new country, and a new business culture.

Business Insider recently sat down with Krupa, and talked through some of the cultural differences in the US that struck him when he arrived in the Big Apple.

“What I’ve found as an individual coming here to the US, is that the level of pragmatism you have here across the board, from your doorman to the highest level executives, is phenomenal,” he said.

In other words, there’s much less embarrassment about asking to get paid for services provided, and there’s more openness to those able to bring something new to the table.

“If you are committed and you are good at something, you are in business,” he said.

While that might sound like a truism, it has relevance for Societe Generale’s strategy in the US. Krupa said the bank is hoping to win more business with existing clients, and close some gaps where it does some business with certain clients but not other bits of business.

Here’s the full transcript:

Matt Turner: You said you’re looking at doing more with your existing clients?

Slawomir Krupa: There are very big players that outrank us structurally in the US market, but what I’ve found as an individual coming here to the US, is that the level of pragmatism you have here across the board, from your doorman to the highest level executives, is phenomenal. I think it is a very interesting feature of this market. That coupled with its depth, which is something you touch physically when you operate here, all these people that have a 200 square meter office on the next corner and run some $US2 billion or $US3 billion fund of something. You start to talk to them, and it’s not just $US2 billion of something, it is $US2 billion in that specific segment of that market with that kind of approach and investment style, and very specific expertise. When you pool these things together, if you deliver consistent, high quality service on stuff that you know you know what you are talking about, there is growth potential.

Turner: I think I know what you are getting at, but can you explain that?

Krupa: I think at the end of the day, relationships, let us say pure non-factual relationships, play a role everywhere in the world. And of course it plays a role here. Except for cross border deals with European clients, we are not in the M&A advisory business in the US with US clients and targets. There it is a little bit different, and relationship driven. Elsewhere, people here, they want good service for a good price, and they are willing to make that their first criteria of choice, much more than in Europe, or emerging countries, where it is more old school. It is a little more objective and meritocratic.

Turner: It’s interesting you say that, because as a Brit in New York I’ve recognised the same thing.

Krupa: Basically, it’s a value chain on the banking side, on the client relationship side. I don’t want to sound too judgmental, but if you commit in a higher tier, you know all over the world, in developed countries and emerging countries, yes there is more and more of follow up, making sure they understand who contributes the most and trying to generate the right reward. But here it is more systematic. Let’s put it that way. If you are committed and you are good at something, you are in business.

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