Bradesco CEO Luiz Carlos Trabuco has come under criticism for the somewhat lackluster performance of the company’s stock throughout his tenure as CEO. However, many of his critics may have simply had unrealistic expectations about what one man could do after inheriting a firm that had largely expended all prospects for organic growth, in a market increasingly characterized by cutthroat competition and poor macroeconomic indicators.

Even so, there is silver lining in Luiz Carlos Trabuco’s reign in the executive suite. In 2015, he completed the all-cash purchase of HSBC Brazil, instantly propelling his firm to the top of the Brazilian financial space in multiple different categories. Although this move has not yet translated into huge gains in Bradesco’s stock price, the stock has risen sharply over the last year. This is an indicator that the market is giving Trabuco and his long-term strategy a vote of confidence. The firm is better positioned now than at any time in its past to become the undisputed leader in the Brazilian financial sector.

But Trabuco still has many vocal critics. Part of the problem is the fault of Trabuco’s own reputation. Upon acceding to CEO at age 57, the inveterate banker had experienced one of the most unrelentingly successful careers of anyone in Brazilian banking. Thus, Trabuco’s own past performance raised the bar to a level that he could no longer possibly clear.

Luiz Carlos Trabuco may not have lit the world on fire as CEO, at least not yet. But to know where the company is headed and how the executive thinks about his business, it’s worth looking at the philosophies that rocketed him from the lowest job at the firm to the mahogany-bound executive suite.

The old guard gives way to modernity

When Luiz Carlos Trabuco got his first job at a small local bank called Bradesco in 1969, neither he nor anyone he worked with knew that he would become the bank’s brightest star. Hired on as a teller, he quickly gained the confidence of his superiors, proven himself to be an able employee and a fast learner. Over the next 10 years he began slowly but steadily rising through the ranks, putting himself through school in the process. By 1984, he held a master’s degree in social psychology and had extensive management experience. He was appointed as the head of the firm’s marketing office.

Trabuco, a product of both the modern university and the real-world Brazilian banking sector did not agree with the old philosophy that all customers should be treated equally. The bank’s customer service philosophy was little different than that of Henry Ford, who once stated that his customers could have any color car they chose, so long as it was black. Trabuco instead saw the opportunity for a high degree of differentiation, not so much in the product itself but in the service with which the product was delivered. He knew that with a commodity business like banking, while product differentiation is still possible within limited bounds, it is all but impossible to gain a real competitive edge solely on the basis of a superior product alone. Trabuco began making the bank’s service and customer experience part of the product, crafting marketing campaigns that emphasized this new philosophy. Over the next 8 years, the firm grew like never before.

In 1992, Trabuco’s successes made him an easy pick to head up the company’s burgeoning financial planning division. Immediately upon becoming its president, Trabuco began moving to create a nearly totally separate business for high-net-worth clients. Branded Bradesco Prime, this service features 24/7 personal bankers, separate, luxuriously appointed facilities and complimentary benefits that included such things as first-class tickets and hotel rooms. The strategy proved enormously successful. Within five years, Trabuco had grown the financial planning division from a negligible part of the firm’s business into a unit accounting for more than 25 percent of its total profits.

Learn more about Luiz Carlos Trabuco: http://epocanegocios.globo.com/Empresa/noticia/2017/08/trabuco-retomada-do-credito-depende-de-volta-do-pib-e-da-taxa-de-investimento.html