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With the American Dream of unfettered class transcendence being nearly dead, even in its namesake country, it is refreshing to hear stories of those rare individuals who are genuinely able to permanently transform their station in life to a higher plateau, through pure grit, talent and drive. Although in a globalized world, these characters seem to appear with ever less frequency, the story of Luiz Carlos Trabuco, CEO of Bradesco, gives cause for hope.

Luiz Carlos Trabuco was born in the small town of Marilia in 1951. He did well in school but by the time he graduated, Trabuco did not have enough money to immediately attend college. He eventually found a job at what at that time was a small local bank, with just a few branches around the city of Marilia, called Bradesco. Trabuco was hired on as a bank teller, and over his first year, he proved himself to be a capable and hard-working employee.

Through the 1970s he slowly worked his way up the company’s hierarchy, first becoming shift manager, then branch manager, then reaching district manager. During this time he was also able to achieve the goal that originally prompted him to get the job – he put himself through college. Getting a master’s degree in social psychology, Trabuco was now in possession of a highly polished and impressive resume. His higher-ups started noticing his accomplishments. In 1984, he was given his first executive role with the firm.


As head of the company’s marketing department, Trabuco began leaving his first indelible marks on the corporate culture and Bradesco’s business model. He totally rethought the company’s marketing strategy. First, he began forming strong relationships with local media in every market where Bradesco operated, something his predecessors had badly neglected. Second, he began a concerted effort to improve the company’s public image, sponsoring charity drives, local events and many other ways of crafting a positive corporate image. By the late-80s, sales were higher than they had ever been. In 1992, Trabuco was promoted, this time given the presidency of the firm’s struggling financial planning division.

It was at the helm of the financial planning unit that Trabuco began fundamentally shifting Bradesco’s entire approach to banking. By now a polished student of international banking and marketing, Trabuco immediately saw that the bank’s old ways of doing things were badly antiquated and harmful in the new globalized and highly competitive market space in which Bradesco was participating.

Trabuco immediately scrapped the financial planning division’s one-size-fits-all customer service model, instead opting to create a tiered service reflecting the value of clients. Modeled similar to what one might find at a casino, where the biggest customers get the most extravagant comps, Luiz Carlos Trabuco created Bradesco Prime, a service that extended lavish rewards, separate, luxury facilities and 24/7, on-call personal banking to the firm’s largest high-net-worth clients.

At the time, this was a revolutionary move. But was a crucial element in driving the firm’s total revenues through the roof throughout the decade of the 90s, as the bank attracted many of the highest net worth clients from not only across Brazil, but internationally as well. Trabuco’s successes were once again noted and, in 2003, he was promoted to one of the top slots in the company.

Now president of the insurance division, Trabuco was able to replicate his success. Within 6 years, he grew Trabuco Seguros to the single largest underwriter of retail insurance policies in the country. By this time, many people within Bradesco considered Trabuco to be one of the company’s true leaders. In 2009, he was appointed CEO.

While his tenure as CEO has been mixed, no one disputes the fact that Bradesco, as it now stands, is largely a product of the work of Luiz Carlos Trabuco.

Learn more about Luis Carlos Trabuco:

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