When Luiz Carlos Trabuco became CEO of Bradesco, Brazil’s second largest bank, he took over at a time of uncertainty. Bradesco had fallen to second place, behind its most important competitor, Itau. Nonetheless, Trabuco had some big shoes to fill, as his predecessor, Márcio Cypriano, had succeeded in skyrocketing the bank’s market valuation from USD5 billion to a whopping USD30 billion. Bradesco is one of Brazil’s leading brand names, and when it comes to profits and performance, the expectations for the company are sky high.
Luiz Carlos Trabuco is a company man, who joined Bradesco just out of college as a clerk and kept getting promoted. Before being chosen as CEO by the board of directors, Trabuco was the head of Bradesco’s insurance division, which represent’s one of the company’s most crucial lines of business. In fact, the former CEO, Cypriano, had been preparing the way for Trabuco to succeed him from the beginning, which made the announcement of his selection somewhat surprising, as the company has had a tendency to go with unlikely candidates for the top job.
Luiz Carlos Trabuco inherited a company that was used to being on top, and so his first priority was figuring out the best way of staging a comeback. Early on, he said he would eschew gimmicks in favor of fundamental improvements that would strengthen the brand and generate new business. One of his first changes was slashing fees in order to improve the customer experience. The executive was also keen to change the culture of the company for the better. He began to promote managers who showed innovation and problem-solving skills. Trabuco even instituted brainstorming sessions in which each participant was responsible for contributing a meaningful idea that would help boost the bottom line.
Although Trabuco has spoken at length of emphasizing organic growth, the possibility of Bradesco purchasing a smaller bank had always been of interest. The problem was that when Trabuco became CEO in 2009, there were no interesting prospects, but all of that changed with the Bradesco’s recent acquisition of HSBC’s Brazilian business. The HSBC deal has put Bradesco back on top in a couple of key metrics, and has narrowed the overall gap between Brazil’s two major retail banks.
The deal should come as no surprise, since Bradesco has a long history of growing through consolidations. The bank is widely considered to be Latin America’s most valuable brand name, and the company is famous for a long list of firsts, including being the first bank in Latin America to provide ATM cards. Its rise as one of the country’s leading banks was made possible by its investment in the technology sector.
Luiz Carlos Trabuco has been at Bradesco for forty years, since he graduated from the University of Sao Paulo. Although it is clear that he knows his company very well, it remains to be seen whether Trabuco’s strategies and his acquisition of HSBC Brazil will be enough to overtake Itau and make Bradesco the market leader once again.