Ahead of the Pack
Under the command of Roberto Setúbal, Brazil's Banco Itaú has moved into a league of its own. Itaú is the most profitable and most valuable bank in Latin America.
Running a bank in Latin America is a bit like being behind
the wheel of a stock car. The field is crowded and accidents
always happen, with unpredictable results. Some cars are rust
buckets held together with chewing gum and wire. Others are
high-performance machines. A perfectly good driver can be
bounced out of the race while another who is merely luckier
makes it to the finishing line. But only drivers with
hair-trigger reactions, able to calculate risk at high speed
can win consistently.
The skills required of a great banker are similar, although
the risks are not quite as great. Few bankers actually stake
their lives on quarterly results or the success of a big deal
in the way drivers risk all to win a race. However, the rewards
are usually far greater in banking than in auto racing.
In his 10 years as president of Banco Itaú,
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