Few people in the world of finance have had a long and remarkable a career as Brazilian banking CEO Luiz Carlos Trabuco. The 67 year old banker has been with Bradesco, the largest bank in the country by various measures, since he was just 18 years old. The inveterate financier moved up through the ranks of the firm on little more than hard work and talent. But even as Trabuco is a sort of real-life Horatio Alger story, with a Latin American tinge, he has also been a force for modernization within the bank itself. It is, then, ironic to note that Trabuco’s own ascent would be considerably harder to replicate at the modern firm that he was largely responsible for creating. In effect, Trabuco’s own rise made it almost impossible for another version of Trabuco to ever rise again.
The professionalization of a rural lending institution
The personal rise of Trabuco and the institutional rise of Bradesco happened almost in lockstep with one another. Trabuco first came to work for the bank in 1969, when he was just 18 years old. He had recently graduated high school and noticed a help wanted sign in one of Bradesco’s branches when he was walking home one day.
He walked in, was given an interview and was quickly hired. Over the next few years, he impressed his superiors with his penchant for hard work and quickly learning tasks. By the 1970s, he had already worked his way up to branch manager. It was during the period that he was able to start attending night school at the University of Sao Paulo. He was able to put himself through school, eventually obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration as well as a degree in social psychology.
In 1984, Trabuco was given his first crack at an executive role. He was appointed to head up the firm’s public relations and marketing department. There, he encountered a department that had been run by the seat of the prior management’s pants. Business processes were in disarray, and the overall strategy was far from the norms and best practices that Trabuco had become acquainted with as he studied the methods of the most successful North American financial institutions.
He immediately moved to streamline operations and professionalize the way in which the marketing department was approaching its goals. The bank had previously been involved in little non-advertising activities in the way of improving the corporate image. Trabuco started sponsoring Christmas gift drives and other charity events throughout Sao Paulo. He also began forging strong relationships with local media personalities, taking them out on the company tab and showing them a good time. This eventually led to the bank becoming one of the strongest brands in the Brazilian finance sector.
Trabuco was also able to radically overhaul the way that the financial planning department, which he took over in 1992, went about its business. Again, he was able to completely professionalize the way in which the unit approached its business. Here, Trabuco began a program of differentiating between the services that clients were apportioned based on their value to the firm.
Specifically, Trabuco knew that going after the highest net worth individuals would enable the company to boost its balance sheets by, potentially, hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the strategy he employed, to great effect. Within a few years, the bank had nearly cornered the high-net-worth client market throughout Brazil, adding almost a billion dollars to the bank’s current and money market accounts and enabling it to originate many more loans.
Overall, Trabuco has been a huge asset to the bank. For more information about Trabuco Bradesco visit: http://www.camar.sp.gov.br/images/imagesnoticias/851/principal.html