Over the last 65 years, Bradesco has risen from a tiny local bank in the town of Marilia to become one of the two most important financial institutions in the country of Brazil. Incredibly, one man has been there for the better part of that ride to the top.
Luiz Carlos Trabuco has been with the company nearly since its inception. Starting out as a bank teller for the firm in 1959, he has risen through the ranks, as Bradesco itself rose through the ranks of the Brazilian financial sector. Today, both Bradesco and Trabuco have arrived at the absolute top of the Brazilian banking game. The question is, will Trabuco be able to continue his seemingly endless string of successes, now that he and his firm have reached the top?
A Brazilian Horatio Alger story
In an increasingly globalized world, where there are clear winners and losers and few cross from one category to the other, it is amazing to learn of someone who rose from poverty to the heights of power the old fashioned way, through hard work and promotion. But the story of Luiz Carlos Trabuco is precisely that. It didn’t take long for Trabuco’s superiors to notice that he had a way with customers and an easy aptitude for learning new positions. By 1960, within his first year of being hired on with Bradesco, at that time a small-town regional bank with a few branches, he was already moving up the ranks. That year, he was given his first small management role, leading a small team of tellers.
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By the 1970s, he was working in the financial planning division of the bank, making million-dollar decisions on behalf of clients and the firm. In 1992, Trabuco was given his first executive role. He was appointed president of Bradesco’s financial planning business. By this time, Bradesco was rapidly expanding and had become a major player in banking and financial services across Brazil. Trabuco saw the financial planning division as a major source of growth, which at that time only accounted for a few percent of the company’s total profits. By 2003, Trabuco had converted it into one of the largest financial planning businesses in the country, accounting for over 25 percent of Bradesco’s total profits.
His superiors, again, liked what they saw. Bradesco was promoted to the presidency of the corporation’s large and lucrative insurance division in 2003. Trabuco was again able to use his extensive knowledge of the business and strong leadership to drive serious growth in the business. By, 2009, Bradesco had grown into the single largest underwriter of consumer insurance policies in the country. It was at this time that the CEO of Bradesco, Mario Cypriano, was facing mandatory retirement due to his approaching 65 years of age. Trabuco, by this time, had become the obvious choice for Cypriano’s replacement.
In 2009, Trabuco took over at the helm of Bradesco, now the second-largest banking services conglomerate in Brazil. But this time, he inherited a more challenging role. The environment of easy growth that had shot Bradesco to national prominence in the 90s and 2000s had completely changed. There were no longer many good targets for acquisition and the stagnant Brazilian economy meant that there was not much opportunity for organic growth in banking demand. Over his first six years of leading the firm, Trabuco struggled to grow the company. On the other hand, he managed to avoid losses in an admittedly tough banking market, where many of Bradesco’s competitors were getting killed.
But in 2015, Trabuco saw an opportunity to make one of the biggest acquisitions in its history. HSBC Brazil had been losing money for years, and HSBC wanted out. Trabuco approached them with a $5.2 million, all cash offer, and it was quickly accepted. This instantly put Bradesco on top of the Brazilian banking industry by a number of metrics.
Going forward, the question will be whether or not Trabuco can continue growing the firm and staying on top. If his record is any guide, it’s a good bet he can.
Learn more about Luiz Carlos Trabuco: http://fotos.estadao.com.br/galerias/cultura,luiz-carlos-trabuco-cappi-e-lucilia-diniz-ofereceram-jantar-em-torno-do-prefeito-joao-doria-e-sua-mulher-bia-nos-jardins,30901