Luiz Carlos Trabuco Rises From Clerk To Global CEO

Since 2009, Luiz Carlos Trabuco has been at the helm of Brazil’s second-largest banking conglomerate, Bradesco. His tenure hasn’t been without challenges, the company’s stock price has stagnated and there were some teething issues in performing the largest acquisition in Brazil’s history, that of HSBC Brazil. But overall, his tenure has been a success.

The Brazilian banking market has become one of the most competitive in the world, with a strong trend towards the largest companies acquiring anyone smaller who is in the black. Although Trabuco has only been able to oversee a small increase in Bradesco’s market cap, he has successfully grown the bank to be a strong competitor in the race for the title on Largest Bank in Brazil, in a period where almost all of Bradesco’s competition has lost money.

By all accounts, Trabuco is a highly capable leader and agile businessman. But he is proof that, sometimes, great leaders are made, not born. In a sense, he is very much an old-time CEO. Bradesco has been the only job he’s ever had. This has given him a front row seat to not only witness the profound changes in Brazilian banking over the last 50 years but to participate in them. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Trabuco is one of Brazil’s foremost living banking experts.

Shortly after graduating high school, Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi got his first job as a teller at the firm. In 1969, at just 18 years old, Trabuco landed in the firm where he would one day be catapulted to the company’s top slot. Over the next 40 years, he worked in almost every department, eventually reaching his first executive role, at the age of just 41, in 1992.

In that year, he was appointed as the head of Bradesco’s financial planning arm. He quickly proved to be an able leader, growing the business from an insignificant department into one of the company’s most important revenue earners. Eventually Groupo Bradesco de Seguros e Previdencia would contribute 30 percent of the companies total revenues.

In 2003, he was again promoted, this time taking over the firm’s hugely lucrative insurance underwriting arm. Again, he grew the business from low double-digit percentages of the total revenues into a money-printing powerhouse that represented over 40 percent of the firm’s total revenues. By the time Trabuco left the insurance wing of Bradesco, it was the single largest underwriter of insurance policies in the country.

In 2009, company CEO Mario Cypriano was slated to retire due to the company charter requiring that all executives do so once they have reached the age of 65. Trabuco was, again, a natural fit for the slot. He was eventually appointed to the top slot at Bradesco, becoming the company’s 4th CEO and completing the journey from the lowliest, entry-level employee all the way to the head of one of the largest banking conglomerates in Latin America.

Over the past 8 years, Trabuco has again proven himself a capable leader and a visionary. He recently completed the acquisition of HSBC Brazil, the largest business transaction in the country’s history. This has, once again, put Bradesco in the running for the largest bank in Brazil. In fact, by some measures, it’s already larger than its closest competitor, Itau Unibanco.

Today, Bradesco has over 5,000 branches in every state of Brazil. It has more than $400 billion in assets and has more money under management than any other bank in Latin America. It also has more deposits, checking accounts and account holders in general than Itau.

Under Trabuco’s leadership, Bradesco has truly become a world-class player.