Lazaro Brandao, the inveterate financier that has been the acting chairman of Grupo Bradesco since 1990, has recently announced that he will be retiring, effective in the next few weeks. The 91 year old banker has been with Bradesco since 1943, the first year of the bank’s operation, when he joined at the age of just 16 years old.
Brandao is slated to be succeeded by the current CEO of the firm, Luiz Carlos Trabuco, himself a lifelong company man for Bradesco. Trabuco will be tasked with naming his successor by March of 2018, a move that many anticipate will involve recruiting from within the ranks of the corporation itself.
Trabuco and Brandao see eye-to-eye on technology
With more than 27 million active retail banking customers and over 5,000 branches, Bradesco is the largest bank in Brazil in terms of retail banking. Still, more than 13 million of these customers, nearly half of the bank’s customer base, are not connected to the internet or cannot use basic online banking platforms.
Both Trabuco and Brandao have identified bringing this group online as one of the major challenges that the bank will face in the near-term future. Both men view the task of bringing technological literacy to their customers not just as a means of ensuring higher profits but also as a civic duty, helping to continue the development of the human capital of Brazil. Trabuco has not made specific statements as to how the bank plans on ensuring that all of these customers have access to internet banking facilities. But some close to the decision makers say that, with the recent proliferation of cellular towers across Brazil, the bank may be planning on engaging in a drive to get cellular devices into the hands of all of the 13 million customers who are unable to connect online. If true, this would represent one of the largest public works projects the company has ever undertaken, and it would be an unprecedented move in Brazilian economy, which normally does not take on development in such a proactive manner.
As Brandao departs, questions remain
Brandao is more than merely a chairman on a large bank. For the shareholders, employees and customers of Bradesco, he occupies a role not dissimilar to that held by Warren Buffet. He is one part businessman, one part father figure and one part oracle.
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Given the fact that he has been with the company for more than 75 years and has overseen the period of its greatest success, it comes as little surprise that, even as the nonagenarian approaches his mid-90s, there are some stakeholders who view his exit with nervous gazes. Some feel that the departure of the man who oversaw a 300-fold increase in the stock price over 20 years represents the exit of a legend without replacement.
But Brandao himself has assured stakeholders that Trabuco is the right man for the job. Although Trabuco himself had a somewhat spotty record as CEO, the two men see very much eye-to-eye on a large spectrum of issues. And they both view the role of the bank as being equally to create value for shareholders, customers and Brazil at large.
Perhaps, the bigger question will be who will ultimately replace Trabuco. Although seven possible candidates have been floated as possible replacements, one name, that of Mauricio Minas, has come up, again and again, as the way the smart money is betting. Minas, who is a 57 year old information technology officer with the bank, has a long list of significant achievements under his belt, including the development of Next, the bank’s highly touted online banking platform.
For more information about Luiz Carlos Trabuco, just click here.