David Thomas is CEO of Financier Sp zoo. He has been in Poland since 1989 and has worked at Country Head, Coopers and Lybrand, Schroder, where he was deputy ceo, ING Barings, where he headed up investment banking and HSBC where he was managing director. He is also chairman of the British Polish Chamber of Commerce (www.bpcc.org.pl).
What does Financier do?
We are a corporate finance boutique.
Where can the most money be made at the moment and who is best placed to earn it and how?
As a location I would say India. It is economically insulated and its internal demand stimulates growth. It is a very rapidly developing economy.
Individually I would look to the stock market, probably at the beginning of next year; I would still consider the private equity market.
There is a current drive to recruit hard-nosed, cost-cutting managers because of the recession. Will this help?
If the current managers of a company do not know enough, I don’t think outsiders are going to help. They’ll probably cut away muscle and bone as well as fat. I think companies should train up their existing managers.
In today’s economy, what life jackets exist to help keep a country like Poland afloat?
The biggest support is the EU structural funds, which the government needs to sort out. No government has been totally successful in claiming them. I think the Irish and the Portuguese have done the best, at around 65%, Greece the worst at 20 or 30% and Poland is in the upper 50s. Local government has been more efficient than central government.
What best defines the Polish reputation around the world?
The Polish reputation suffers internationally because it is probably thirty years behind reality. People think it is still under the cloak of communism, that it’s grey and dull, like the Gdansk shipyard.
The Poles have a reputation of being hard workers, well qualified and energetic. They are also law abiding.
Which country’s economy is going to have the best Christmas and New Year?
Globally, I would say China and India. In Europe, probably Poland. Growth may be half the levels of last year, but still positive.
How do you see Poland’s future?
I think that after a year of low growth, it will go back up to levels of five or six percent, until around the middle of the next decade.
Who do you consider to be the most influential Pole of all time?
The writer, Adam Mickiewicz or King John I Albert. Pope Jean Paul II, obviously, but I would not put anyone else in modern times near the top.