President, Banco Bradesco
Born: November 20, 1943.
Education: Universidade Mackenzie, JD, 1967.
Career: Banco da Bahia, 1967–1973, bank clerk; Banco Bradesco, 1973–1984, branch manager; 1984–1986, department manager; 1986–1988, associate executive officer; 1988–1995, managing director; 1995–1999, executive vice president; 1999–, president.
Address: Banco Bradesco, Avenida Ipiranga 282, 10 andar, CEP 01046-920 São Paulo, Brazil; http://www.bradesco.com.br.
■ A lawyer by training, Márcio A. Cypriano began his banking career in 1967. In 1973 he started working for Banco Bradesco, one of Brazil's most important banks. After more than 25 years of loyal service, Cypriano became president of Bradesco in 1999. Despite expectations that he would not make significant changes at the bank, Cypriano did in fact implement a number of important innovations. Among the key changes were making the bank more open, improving online banking, acquiring stakes in other financial institutions, and increasing the company's profits.
Cypriano did not intend to make banking a career. He graduated with a law degree from the Universidade Mackenzie in São Paulo. He studied law mainly because his father encouraged him to do so. In 1967 he became a bank clerk at the Banco da Bahia in the city of São Paulo. Cypriano told Euro-money that "I entered banking provisionally, and I have just reached thirty-one years in the business" (March 1999).
In 1973 Banco Bradesco bought the Banco da Bahia, and Cypriano became manager of a new branch in the old downtown section of São Paulo. He recalled for Euromoney that "I got to the branch at five o'clock on a Sunday afternoon and we needed to open on Monday morning. The branch was dirty. Where are you going to get people at 5 p.m. on Sunday to clean a branch that is going to be inaugurated at 7 a.m. the following day?" (March 1999). In order to open on time, Cypriano enlisted his wife and some of the branch employees to clean up.
After becoming branch manager, Cypriano began slowly but surely to work his way up through the company's ranks. In 1984 Bradesco promoted him to department manager, and by 1988 he had become managing director. In 1995 the company rewarded his years of service and hard work by making him executive vice president.
In January 1999 Lázaro Brandão stepped down after 18 years as president of Banco Bradesco. While Brandão stayed on as chairman, he appointed Márcio Cypriano as the new president. Cypriano said that he did not mind sharing power with Brandão, stating that the board of directors would give the bank direction, and as president he would execute the wishes of the board. The outgoing president picked Cypriano in part to his success in running Banco de Crádito Nacional, a Bradesco subsidiary since 1997. Cypriano was the first Bradesco president to hold a university degree.
Because Cypriano had spent so much of his career at Bradesco, most analysts expected him to largely continue the strategies and style of Brandão by concentrating on the middle-banking market, expanding the company's insurance business, and developing a portfolio of minority shares in industrial companies. Cypriano did not change the overall corporate strategy that Brandão had established. He continued Bradesco's emphasis on the middle-to-low-end retail-banking sector rather than going after large corporate clients. As he told Latin Finance , "you get more profit from personal business than in corporate business where the spreads are very small." Along with this emphasis on retail banking, he wanted to increase the number of Bradesco customers, setting a goal of 10 million clients by the end of 2000. "Broadening the client base is very important for the bank because we a have a broad range of products for this group. We want to make sure that each client uses all of our products," Cypriano explained to Latin Finance (March 2000). Cypriano also continued the Bradesco tradition of emphasizing lifelong ties with both retail and corporate clients. He argued that this long-term support benefits the bank in the end. Customers will return to do all of their banking with Bradesco in appreciation of the bank's loyalty.
Despite expectations that there would be little deviation from tradition, Cypriano instituted a number of significant changes. One of his most important cultural changes was to make Bradesco a more open company. It had a reputation of being secretive, and Brandão had avoided almost all contact with the media and investors. Furthermore, the fact that Bradesco's headquarters were located in a 1950s-style office complex known as Cidade de Deus (City of God) in a distant and unfashionable suburb of São Paulo contributed to the company's reputation for aloofness.
In contrast to his predecessor, Cypriano and his top managers met more than two hundred times with investors and analysts in 1999. Conference calls with analysts became commonplace. The Bradesco president told Latin Finance that "the bank did not show itself much before because the market did not demand it. But once the market began to demand it, we reacted and adapted" (March 2000). With Cypriano at the helm, analysts were now able to question senior company officials and look at Bradesco's inner workings. Along with other factors, this new openness contributed to a rapid rise in the value of Bradesco's shares in 1999. Cypriano also applied a personal touch within the bank. He traveled around Brazil to meet the managers at Bradesco's 2,200 branches. He told Euromoney that "if you are locked up in your office, you don't know what is happening out there" (March 1999).
Another innovation that Cypriano emphasized after becoming president at Bradesco was online banking. Bradesco was the first Latin American bank to offer Internet banking services. In 1995 the company had about 50,000 online customers. By 2001, 3.2 million clients used Bradesco's Internet banking services. In 2002 Cypriano could boast that one-third of the company's customers used the Internet services, accessing Bradesco's Web site more than one million times everyday. He told Latin Finance that "people don't have the time to waste going to banks" (November 2001). In addition to satisfying the needs of clients, the spread of Internet banking also helped Bradesco reduce operating costs.
Cypriano and Bradesco were at the forefront of a wave of online banking that made Brazil a world leader in the area. The bank had put the technology in place in the mid-1990s when the Internet became popular. Then, economic problems in the country led many Brazilian banks to develop electronic systems to clear checks quickly so that customers would not lose money due to inflation; there were times in the 1990s when the Brazilian currency could lose 3 percent of its value in a single day. Cándido Leonelli, a Bradesco executive in charge of Internet banking, told the New York Times that "we built up Internet banking not because it was fashionable like in the U.S., but because it created serious value to the customers and thus the bank" (March 25, 2001).
Many analysts and journalists compared Banco Bradesco to a supertanker because it was so big in terms of assets but often slow to change or react. Many investors complained that the company historically was more concerned with size than profits. Indeed, profits had declined in the years prior to Cypriano's appointment as president. Other investors disliked Bradesco's involvement in the insurance business and its heavy investment in industrial assets. By making Bradesco more efficient and making numerous key acquisitions, however, Cypriano helped the bank earn healthy profits.
Cypriano made a number of important acquisitions after taking over at Bradesco. As in the United States and Europe, in Brazil asset management concentrated in fewer banks, with larger institutions buying out their noncompetitive smaller rivals. Cypriano orchestrated the purchase of the Banco Mercantil de São Paulo, the asset-management unit of Deutsche Bank, and the financing business of Ford Brasil. The 2003 acquisition of the asset-management unit of J. P. Morgan placed Bradesco nearly even with the Banco do Brasil as largest bank in terms of asset management. The acquisition of Banco Mercantil in 2001 was especially significant. Banco Mercantil was a small, family-owned bank that catered to Brazil's wealthy. Before Cypriano became president, Bradesco had largely ignored this select clientele. By purchasing Banco Mercantil, Cypriano brought new upper-class retail and corporate clients to Bradesco, marking yet another break with the past. In addition to adding new, high-end customers, Cypriano also made an effort to serve low-income Brazilians. Bradesco opened numerous minibranches in post offices around the country that offered loans to poorer Brazilians, often those involved in the informal economy.
When not working on changes at Bradesco, Cypriano escaped to his large cattle ranch more than 300 miles from São Paulo. Of his cattle-ranching hobby, Cypriano told Euromoney that "it only gives emotional return, no financial return" (March 1999).
See also entry on Banco Bradesco S.A. in International Directory of Company Histories .
Adese, Carlos, "No. 1 Wants More," Latin Finance , April 2002.
"Banco Bradesco Grows Sharper and More Nimble," Latin Finance , November 2001, p. 38.
Barham, John, "Brazilian Banker Steps Down," Financial Times , January 28, 1999.
——, "Stuffy Bradesco Turns on the Charm," Latin Finance , March 2000, p. 47.
"Bradesco Expands with Agility," Latin Finance , November 2002, p. 24.
Hieronymus, Bill, "Brazil: Sizing up the Competition," Banker , April 2003.
——, "Márcio Cypriano," Euromoney , March 1999, p. 23.
Lipschultz, David, "Advanced Online Banking, Born of Necessity," New York Times , March 25, 2001.
"Modernizer: Márcio Cypriano," Latin Finance , July 2003, p. 40.