Luiz Carlos Trabuco is one of the most powerful and well-known bankers in Brazil. As CEO of Grupo Bradesco, the country’s preeminent financial group, Trabuco has proven himself to be a bold and able leader.
Responsible for the 2015 acquisition of HSBC Brazil, a move the won Trabuco the Isto E Dinheiro Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Trabuco has a long list of major successes, helping Bradesco become one of the most important financial institutions in Latin America.
However, there is one man who may eclipse Trabuco in stature. His boss, chairman of the board, Lazaro Brandao, is, at 91 years old, a living legend of Brazilian finance. It is only fitting, then, that the runner-up for the title of King of Brazilian Banking should replace the reigning sovereign.
Trabuco and Brandao see eye to eye more often than not
Trabuco and Brandao have many things in common. Both men have spent their entire careers with the bank. Trabuco began working with the firm in 1969, at the age of 18. Brandao was just 16 when he joined the bank in the the year 1943. Both men also rose through the corporate ranks the old fashioned way – through hard work and talent.
Brandao reached the position of CEO in 1981, a position which he held for 18 years, the longest of any CEO in the bank’s history. He was also chairman of the board as well as CEO between 1990 and 1999, a feat that has not been repeated since. Since 1990, Brandao has been the presiding chairman of the board, a position in which he has overseen some of the most remarkable growth ever experienced by a Brazilian corporation.
Trabuco also quickly reached the executive level. In 1984, he was appointed head of the bank’s marketing department. In that role, he quickly proved to be a force for modernization within the bank, a theme that would become the trademark of his efforts over the rest of his career. At the time Trabuco was being promoted up the chain of command, the bank had reached a size that was far larger than where it was when Brandao was making his own ascent 25 years prior. For this reason, it took Trabuco until 2009 to reach the level of CEO.
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But unlike Brandao, Trabuco’s tenure at the apex of his organization was a much rockier road than the one traversed by Brandao. Trabuco inherited a company in an intensely competitive industry and amid the throws of a major financial crisis. Still reeling from the effects of the 2008 global financial meltdown, Brazil had taken a hit that was much more severe than many of its Latin American counterparts. This meant that Trabuco had an incredibly difficult time growing the firm and retaining current customers and revenues.
Making matters worse, shortly after Trabuco took the helm, arch rival banks Banco Itau and Unibanco merged, sending Bradesco from first place back to distant second in the rankings of Brazilian banks by size. This led to 6 years of bad stagnation and an almost continuously declining stock price. By 2015, Bradesco stock was trading at just 20 percent of its 2009 highs. But Trabuco was able to rapidly dig his way out when, in 2015, he completed the acquisition of HSBC Brazil. This instantly started a stock rally that has not abated to this day.
Still, Trabuco’s rough ride as CEO has given some investors pause about his taking over for Brandao. But the latter has reassured all stakeholders that Trabuco has what it takes to lead the bank into the future with vision and effectiveness.
Find more about Luiz Carlos Trabuco: https://www.brasil247.com/pt/247/economia/321974/Trabuco-Bradesco-vai-privilegiar-“prata-da-casa”-em-escolha-de-presidente.htm