Luiz Carlos Trabuco has had one of the more interesting careers in Brazilian industry. In 1969, at the age of 18, Trabuco walked into a branch of a then-unknown bank in the town of Marilia, Sao Paulo and applied for what would become his first ever job. He was quickly hired, and over the next few decades, would prove himself to be a banking wunderkind, rapidly ascending through the ranks and proving himself again and again to be a talented and versatile administrator with an almost uncanny ability to ride the waves of financial trends, to the great benefit of himself and his firm.
Eventually, Trabuco would arrive at the executive suite, becoming CEO of Bradesco in 2009. This marked an incredible ascent from the lowest job title in the firm to the highest, all the while rising through a company that was, itself, rapidly expanding from sleepy, two-branch thrift institution into a global financial juggernaut. It is tempting to view this as a modern-day Horatio Alger story, one of a wide-eyed hero who, through nothing more than his own talent and drive, was able to pick himself up by the bootstraps and rise to the heights of class and power. But a closer inspection quickly raises contours of a countervailing narrative.
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When Trabuco got his first job with Bradesco, in 1969, he was a virtual blank slate, only holding a high school diploma from a not-outstanding school district in a small Brazilian town. But he proved to be a quick learner and a capable manager. By the end of his first year, he was appointed to the role of branch manager.
He would continue working diligently for his bank, rising through the ranks all throughout the decade of the ’70s. It was during this time that he first began attending university classes. Trabuco was accepted at the prestigious University of Sao Paulo, a school known for its international business program and for producing many of Brazil’s top business elites.
Trabuco would eventually go on to get a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in social psychology. It was this period of his life in which he first became steeped in the ethos of globalized finance, a set of ideas far removed from the simple ways of banking that had predominated in Brazil up to that time.
In 1984, he was given his first executive role with Bradesco as the head of its marketing department. He again proved himself to be a highly capable administrator and was eventually promoted again. In 1992, he became the president of the firm’s lackluster financial planning division.
It was here that he first started implementing globalist strategies that ran in stark contrast to the way that the bank had previously done business. Trabuco quickly moved to create a tiered banking system, with the wealthiest clients receiving the lion’s share of the benefits of banking with the firm. During this time, many complained that the service provided to the average customer began to slip, amid new fees, longer lines and a move to automate most of the bank’s retail processes. At the same time, the wealthiest clients were able to enjoy separate, luxuriously appointed facilities staffed by 24/7, on-call personal bankers. High-net-worth clients were rewarded with first-class airline tickets and rooms at exotic hotels in exclusive places.
The strategy bore ripe fruit, with Bradesco quickly cornering the high-net-worth financial planning and personal banking market.
Trabuco would go on to implement a series of inequality-producing strategies, including recruiting managerial talent mostly from outside the firm. Although he has been highly successful, these moves tend to put Trabuco’s image as a Horatio Alger character in a more skeptical light, especially considering that they make a repeat of his own story that much more unlikely.
Learn more about Luiz Carlos Trabuco: http://economia.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,prisao-dos-irmaos-batista-nao-impactam-risco-da-jbs,70001996105