Luiz Carlos Trabuco has become a household name throughout Brazil. As a longtime employee of Grupo Bradesco, the largest private bank in the country, he established himself as one of the leaders of finance in the region. In 2009, Trabuco was appointed as CEO of the bank, making him the firm’s fourth CEO and marking a high point for the bank that, just 30 years before, had been little more than a small regional concern.
Now, Trabuco has announced that he will finally be leaving the position that he has held for the last 9 years. He has accepted an appointment to the position of chairman of the board of directors, a spot that he will be taking over from the outgoing chairman, Lazaro Brandao. At 93 years old, Brandao is one of the oldest currently serving executives in the world. His departure marks the end of an incredible 75-year career with the bank, a journey that started for Brandao with his hiring, all the way back in 1943.
Taking over for such a legendary figure in the world of Brazilian finance will be no small task for Trabuco. But Trabuco himself has gained a formidable amount of experience and has accrued an impressive track record as an executive in various roles with the bank. As the head of the bank’s marketing and PR department in the 1980s, Trabuco was able to establish the Bradesco brand as one of the most recognizable and favorably viewed in the entire Sao Paulo region.
Trabuco was again able to work his magic after he was appointed to head up the bank’s then-struggling financial planning division. There, Trabuco began creating leaner and more efficient Bradesco. He began an initiative to actively recruit some of the nation’s wealthiest customers. At the time, Brazil was experiencing a period of tremendous growth, quickly launching the once poverty-mired country into the ranks of the truly advanced nations.
Trabuco saw the opportunity presented by the many beneficiaries of Brazil’s industrial success. He wooed them to Bradesco with things like luxury facilities, personal banking staff and mouth-watering complimentary items. This strategy to attract the nation’s richest banking customers became one of the most important factors in the bank’s rise throughout the 90s and 2000s. As the bank’s balance sheet swelled under the influx of billions of dollars in new deposits, it was then able to originate massive numbers of new loans, totaling in the tens of billions. By 2009, Bradesco was managing hundreds of billions of dollars in assets and had thousands of employees.
As CEO, Trabuco’s track record was a bit more mixed. The first few years of his reign as CEO saw some tough times for the bank. Although most of the bank’s headwinds were macroeconomic in nature, leaving very little that Trabuco could have done to sail clear of them, by 2014, the bank’s stock price was in a slump, trading at just over 20 percent of its all-time highs of the late 2000s.
But in 2015, Trabuco was able to complete a momentous acquisition. He got word that HSBC was looking to divest its Brazilian assets. Decades in the trenches of one of the most ruthlessly competitive banking markets in the world had convinced HSBC that it was time to focus on greener pastures. In late 2015, Trabuco announced that he had orchestrated the purchase of HSBC Brazil for $5.2 billion in cash. This marked the largest deal in Brazilian history and earned Trabuco the Isto E Dinheiro 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Given his record of stellar performance, it is likely that Trabuco will continue leading Bradesco with the same profitable touch that has served both him and the bank so well in the past.