Luiz Carlos Trabuco proves achieving success the old fashioned way is still possible

Luiz Carlos Trabuco, the CEO of Brazilian banking powerhouse Bradesco, recently announced that he will be moving up to the role of chairman of the board of directors. This latest move marks the final place to which Trabuco can ascend in the bank’s hierarchy. It is the culmination of a nearly 50 year career with the bank, which saw him propelled from the lowest position at the firm to the most exalted.

Throughout his rise, Trabuco proved that it is still possible to move up in socioeconomic status the old fashioned way. Through his hard work, grit and raw talent, Trabuco was able to go from an inexperienced high school graduate to a multi-degree-holding titan of Brazilian finance. And he did it all while working at the same company that gave him his first job.

Climbing the corporate ladder

Trabuco first went to work at Bradesco when he had just graduated from high school. In 1969, at the age of just 18, Trabuco saw a help wanted sign in the window of a local bank. He applied and was quickly hired on. At that time, Bradesco was little more than a local thrift institution, having just a few branches throughout the small town of Marilia, in Sao Paulo state.

Over the next few years, he proved himself to be a capable and hard-working employee. He was able to quickly move up through the ranks of the institution, being first promoted to bank manager and then to regional manager. Throughout the 1970s, Trabuco was able to put himself through night school at one of the most prominent universities in the country. Even as he worked up to 60 hours per week, by 1978, he had achieved a bachelor’s degree in business administration as well as a master’s degree in social psychology.

In was around this time that the now well-credentialed banker was first tapped for his debut executive role. In 1984, Trabuco was appointed to the head of the bank’s PR and marketing division. There, he quickly set about modernizing how the bank approached public relations. By the end of his tenure, the bank’s image was among one of the best of any financial institution in the country. The firm was also recruiting record numbers of new clients through its sleek advertising campaigns in both print and televisions, driving considerable organic growth.

Trabuco’s superiors noticed his successes. In 1992, he was again promoted, this time to the presidency of the company’s financial planning division. It was here that Trabuco first started leaving his indelible mark on the operation of the bank as a whole.

Prior to the reign of Trabuco, the bank had a policy of delivering uniform services and products to all of its clients, independent of how valuable any individual client was to the bank or how much they had on deposit. Trabuco immediately recognized this as the suboptimal business plan that it was. He moved to create Bradesco Prime, a tiered banking system where the highest-value clients were given special perks, privileges and services.

In a concerted effort to go after the country’s high-net-worth banking market, the bank’s most valuable customers were looked after in separate, luxurious facilities. They were also given a 24/7, on-call personal banker and were given lavish rewards, such as first-class airline tickets abroad and five-star hotel stays.

The strategy proved enormously successful. Bradesco was quickly cornering the market in high-net-worth clients, adding hundreds of millions to its balance sheets and enabling it to make far more loans.

This is just a small sampling of the many ways in which Trabuco materially contributed to the bank’s success while riding that wave to the top of Brazilian finance.

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