PAT FROST Senior vice president Frost National Bank, San Antonio

Pat Frost is carrying on a long tradition in banking.

His family name, in fact, has been connected to Texas banking for five generations.

At the tender age of 31, Mr. Frost has already climed to senior vice president in charge of retail banking at Frost National Bank in San Antonio.

The bank is the flagship institution of Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc., a $3.25 billion-asset holding company whose roots can be traced to a bank opened in 1899 by Mr. Frost's great-great-grandfather.

The family still plays a central role in its management. Pat's father, T. C. Frost, owns 4.7% of the company's stock and is chairman and chief executive officer. And Pat's three older brothers also work at Frost National Bank: Tom, 39, oversees cash management; Bill, 37, works in the trust and investment management area as a portfolio manager; and Don, 33, manages the commercial real estate department.

But when the company's earning were dragged down by problem real estate loans, T. C. Frost turned to his youngest son for a key job: broadening the source of profits by expanding the bank's consumer business. He "put Pat in charge to bring the bank into the 21st century," said Frank Anderson, an analyst at Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, Ark.

Mr. Frost, described as a quick study by Mr. Anderson, began working at the bank when he was 16, stuffing customer statements in the mailroom. During summers off from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he majored in economics, Mr. Frost went home to San Antonio to help customers open accounts.

After business school at the University of Texas at Austin, he was hired as a credit analyst and became a commercial loan officer befor ebeing moved into the executive office as manager of Frost's marketing department.

Now, as head of consumer banking, Mr. Frost oversees residential mortgages, student loans, consumer lending, and customer service at the lead bank.

On the job, he cuts a decidedly shirt-sleeve image. Mr. Frost tells employees to call him "Pat" and makes a point of rubbing elbows with the rank and file.

Is he being groomed to run the company someday? "My father's shoes would be awfully big to fill," he says. "I'm aspiring to do the best that I can."

If Mr. Frost's furture is uncertain, so is Cullen/Frost's. Fierce competition raises questions about how long the company can remain independent.

So far, it is the only major Texas banking concern that has survied the state's economic woes without federal assistance or a sale. But the pressures for consolidation are strong. "One day, [Frost National] may not be called Frost Bank," he acknowledges.

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