Luiz Carlos Trabuco became the president of Bradesco, one of Brazil’s largest financial conglomerates, in 2009. This represented the final step in his ascent from the bank’s lowliest position all the way to its most exalted position.
Trabuco’s trajectory to the top of the Brazilian banking world was marked by a strong work ethic, a searing intelligence and an ability to formulate strategies that would prove to be almost universally successful. Although his tenure as CEO was beset by some early setbacks, he would go on to complete the largest merger in the history of Brazil. With the acquisition of HSBC Brazil, for $5.2 billion in cash, Trabuco became one of the country’s most well-known businessmen. The acquisition garnered him the 2015 Isto E Dinheiro Entrepreneur of the Year Award, one of the most coveted prizes in the world of Brazilian business.
Trabuco first began working for Bradesco in 1969. At the time, he was just 18 years old and had recently graduated from high school. The young Trabuco had plans to attend college, but he did not have the available funds to carry it out. He set out looking for his first job in the hopes that he would be able to earn enough to put himself throughout college.
He saw a help-wanted sign in the window of a local bank. At that time, Bradesco was just a small, local thrift institution with a handful of branches. After completing an interview, Trabuco was surprised how quickly he was called back in. He had been offered the job.
Over his first year, he quickly demonstrated himself to be quick with acquisition of skills. He was good at learning new tasks, having been able to master most of the processes involved in running the branch within his first few months. Within his first year, he had already been promoted to shift manager. By the 1970s, Trabuco was ascending through a series of managerial positions with the bank, eventually ending up as a regional manager for the now rapidly expanding Bradesco.
Throughout the 70s, he was able to put himself through school. Even as he worked up to 60 hours per week, Trabuco was able to attend night classes at the prestigious University of Sao Paulo. By the end of the 1970s, he had attained a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in social psychology.
It was in 1984 that Trabuco was offered his first true executive role with the bank. Placed in charge of the company’s marketing and PR department, Trabuco was able to quickly turn the unit around. By the time he left the marketing department in 1992, Bradesco had one of the most well-regarded and recognizable brands in the Sao Paulo area.
His next promotion came in the form of being appointed to lead the bank’s financial planning unit. There, Trabuco began making radical changes in the way that the bank approached its business. He created a system of tiered banking products. Known as Bradesco Prime, the new banking services features ultra-luxury facilities and immensely high levels of lavish services for the bank’s most valuable clients. Trabuco was going after the rich client market with a vengeance.
His strategy worked. Within a few years, Bradesco had nearly cornered the personal banking market for Brazil’s quickly expanding group of wealthy elites. This caused an influx of billions of dollars in new deposits to the bank, allowing it to rapidly expand the number of loans it was making. This was a crucial element in Bradesco’s expansion from a small bank into one of the most important players in the Latin American finance space.