Luiz Carlos Trabuco Continues Transforming Bradesco Into Formidable Competitor

Grupo Bradesco today is hardly recognizable when compared to the company it started out as. In 1943, the firm was founded by Amador Aguiar in the then small town of Marilia, in Central Sao Paolo. Over the first 20 years of its existence, the company barely grew at all. But starting in the 1970s, it began a period of explosive growth, quickly rising to the status of national player in the Brazilian financial industry.

Since 1969, one employee, Luiz Carlos Trabuco, had done more to hasten the rise of the company than, perhaps, anyone else. But Trabuco was no ordinary employee. Having started out working at a local branch as a bank teller in 1969, he had steadily risen through the ranks, putting himself through college at the same time. By 1984, with a masters degree in social psychology, Trabuco was appointed head of marketing for the firm. Over the next few years, the small-town, self-motivated kid, who started out as a bank teller, would transform the way that Bradesco markets itself and interacts with the media. Taking on a wholly modern approach, the firm that had once had a largely antipathetic relationship with the national press began forming cordial relationships with it and carefully shaping its public image.

This trend of modernizing every department he led would become a feature of Trabuco’s tenure in the various departments to which he was appointed executive roles over the coming decades. In 1992, he was selected to head the financial planning division of Bradesco. Holding an advanced degree in psychology, Trabuco approached the problem from a radically different angle than his predecessors. He understood that the banking industry was largely a commodity business, offering a product that was extremely difficult to meaningfully differentiate, even in the best of circumstances.


For this reason, Trabuco chose to take the firm in the direction of competing on quality of service. In particular, his vision represented a radical split with the old guard at Bradesco. Trabuco envisioned a bank that could not only attract lower-tier, everyday customers to its retail banking products but also one that could attract lucrative business from high-net-worth clients. Through the introduction of products like Bradesco Prime, Trabuco began successfully capturing the business of some of the wealthiest clients in Brazil. This move proved to be opportune. Under Trabuco’s guidance, the financial planning division grew from a relatively insignificant part of the firm’s business into a division that represented more than 25 percent of the group’s total profits. Trabuco’s modern vision was paying off.

His success at expanding the financial planning division brought him the notice and praise of Bradesco’s top brass. In 2003, Trabuco was appointed president of the firm’s insurance division. Again, Trabuco bet that the way to compete was not on solely attempting to undercut the competition in a cutthroat business with tiny margins. Instead, Trabuco overhauled the company’s customer service interface, from television advertisements to online ordering. Trabuco was able to grow the insurance division by more than two times, making Bradesco the largest retail insurer in the country and bringing the insurance division to account for more than 30 percent of the firm’s profits.

By this time, Bradesco was nearing the largest financial services company in the country. Trabuco, having personally played an integral part in the firm’s rise, was appointed to succeed outgoing CEO Mario Cypriano in 2009. But the merger of Itau bank and Unibanco knocked Bradesco out of first place and into a distant second. It became the goal of Trabuco’s tenure to restore his company to the number one spot. And the stakes could not be higher. In an almost totally consolidated banking market, the winner stood to act as a de facto monopoly.

In 2015, Trabuco was able to purchase HSBC Brazil for $5.2 billion, once again taking the lead in many categories of Brazilian finance. In the coming years, the man who turned to gold everything he touched will be fun to watch as he leads Bradesco into the future.

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