Lazaro Brandao, the 91 year old father figure of the Brazilian banking giant Bradesco, has announced that he will finally step down for the last time this month. In his place, Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi will become the first new chairman of the bank’s board in more than 27 years.
The announcement, while not surprising, was met with a certain lack of enthusiasm among many stakeholders in the firm. For more than 36 years, Brandao has been an icon of Brazilian banking and has risen to the level of a sort of spiritual avatar of the firm that he has led. Over his 27 years as chairman, he has overseen the period of the bank’s strongest growth and greatest prosperity, securing him a place in the hearts and minds of shareholders that non-founding executives of companies rarely are able to occupy. Lazaro Brandao has, arguably, reached the same stature with Bradesco’s shareholders that Sam Walton and Warren Buffett have reached with theirs.
The Rise of a Legend
Brandao’s departure marks the end of an era for Bradesco. After first coming to work with the bank in 1943, the first full year of the bank’s operation, Brandao was quickly promoted up the ranks. In 1981, he became CEO, a position that he would hold for the next 18 years, making him the longest-serving CEO in the bank’s history. In 1990, he also became chairman of the board, a position that he held concurrently with that of CEO between 1990 and 1999.
Such was the success of the bank throughout Brandao’s period of leadership that no one else within the firm comes close to his claim as the key figure in Bradesco’s history. No one, that is, except Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi.
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Like Brandao, Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi began working at the bank while fresh out of high school. He had aspirations of attending college but didn’t have the necessary funds to do so. He quickly proved himself to be an able employee, moving up through the ranks, eventually landing as a regional manager. Throughout the 1970s, he was able to put himself through night school at one of the most prestigious universities in the country. He eventually got a bachelor’s degree in business administration as well as a master’s degree in social psychology.
By the early 1980s, Trabuco Cappi had amassed one of the most impressive resumes in the bank. In 1984, he was appointed to his first real executive role. As head of the firm’s marketing department, he was able to institute a number of highly effective changes that would prove to be instrumental in the company’s expansion throughout the 1980s.
In 1992, he was appointed to head up the company’s financial planning division, which had been stagnating under less than competent prior management. There, Trabuco Cappi began innovating, devising a tiered banking system that deliberately catered to high-net-worth clients.
In 2003, Trabuco Cappi was again promoted, this time, to the head of the bank’s insurance underwriting unit. As the head of Bradesco Seguros, he was able to dramatically increase the volume of business the division took in. While he was there, Bradesco Seguros became the single largest underwriter of retail insurance policies in the country, surpassing even all the dedicated insurance conglomerates.
This impressive record has made Trabuco Cappi a favorite of Brandao. The latter has repeatedly reassured investors and stakeholders that Trabuco Cappi is the best man for the job, anywhere in the world.