Senior vice president Fifth Third Bancorp, Cincinnati

Michael K. Keating was a lawyer and the son of a lawyer, but Fifth Third Bancorp thought he would make a heck of a banker.

George Schaefer Jr., chief executive of the bank, tried twice to hire this native son away from his law firm.

Mr. Keating, 37, turned down the first pass but eventually signed on as general counsel in 1986.

How did Mr. Schaefer get Mr. Keating to change his mind?

"I told him we could make him rich," laughs Mr. Schaefer, who points out that the bank has generous incentive programs to reward outstanding performance.

Even though Mr. Keating had no banking experience, Mr. Schaefer had big plans for him. In 1991, Mr. Keating, now a senior vice president, was put in charge of trust and investment services, a business Mr. Schaefer believed had great potential but lazy salesmen.

"Mike has a lot of intelligence, a lot of people skills, and he is politically astute," said Mr. Schaefer, who knows Mike's father, a former chairman of the Associated Press.

When Mr. Keating stepped into the new job, trust assets were $19 billion. They've grown to $37 billion at the end of the third quarter of 1992. Revenues are up 20% year over year.

Mr. Keating pushes his troops to sell investment services by going door-to-door to corporations and other institutions.

In November, Fifth Third introduced stock and bond mutual funds for institutional investors. Those funds will be available to retail investors in January.

Mr. Keating's mission is far from complete.

"On the retail side, we have 1.8 million customers," says Mr. Keating. "On the trust side, we have about 30,000 customers. If we can grow the number of trust customers to approach the retail side, you can see the opportunities for this business."

Mr. Keating, who attended Denison University and the University of Cincinnati's law school, is one of a half dozen young managers in line for Mr. Schaefer's job. They may have a long wait: Mr. Schaefer is only 47.

"My primary focus is on the job at hand," says Mr. Keating, who has been married for 13 years and has four children. "Other opportunities will follow."

If not, he said, "I can always go back to practicing law.

Mr. Keating declines to discuss his famous uncle, Charles Keating, the jailed former chairman of American Continental Corp.

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