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Frost Bank

Frost Bank

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Dick Evans believes Washington legislators and finance officials could use a dose of old-fashioned values.Evans, chairman and CEO of San Antonio-based Frost Bank, spoke at the Fort Worth Club on July 15 to a crowd of about 350 people, made up of Fort Worth-area customers, company executives and Cullen/Frost board members.

Evans� speech covered issues including Frost�s history, focus on relationship banking, and current business growth; the national economic climate; and Texas� economic climate.

�I wouldn�t trade places with any bank CEO in the country, but some may want to trade places with me,� Evans said.Evans declined to give attendees any numbers related to Frost�s growth because the company�s second quarter earnings are expected to be released some time during the week of July 20, he said.Frost Bank has continued to lend and add deposits through much of the economic downtown for a number of reasons, Evans said, adding that Frost dropped its residential mortgage and credit card lending practices years ago when the two industries became heavily commoditized, setting Frost up to avoid trouble during credit and mortgage market downturns.

�What that means is we have a strong institutional memory, we remember that you don�t make high-risk loans in the first place, that we�re relationship-driven, and it means that most customers will sit down together in good times and bad times and work through their situation,� Evans said.

As a result of those past decisions, Frost was in a position to turn down $330 million in Troubled Assets Relief funds from the federal government�s TARP program in late 2008, he said.

Compared to national banks, Frost had a business advantage by being based in Texas, which entered the recession in the fourth quarter of 2008, after the majority of other states in the U.S., Evans said.

Business-wise, Frost�s decisions to focus on three core values has added to the company�s growth since the bank began in the 1880s: Culture, giving square deals, and remaining a safe and sound bank, Evans said.

�These are simple, but very powerful concepts,� Evans said, adding that a philosophy he follows is �Boring is beautiful� We take in deposits and we loan to our customers, at the same time we grow and deepen our relationships.� Speaking to efforts in 2008 by the federal government to stabilize the national economy with the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act and other programs, including the Troubled Assets Relief Program, Evans said intervention was necessary.

�But, I believe the nation is walking on a very fine line,� he said.

�The government�s original reaction to the crisis, to stabilize the economy before it shut down, was necessary� Now, we�re seeing the government get deeper and deeper into owning key segments of business.

I think we need to be very cautious.

Finally, we could use a strong dose of values at the national level, and we need to use some common sense and move from a state of confusion to confidence in the future.� Frost opened six new financial centers in 2008, and plans to open four through 2009.

Today, the company is at $15 billion in assets, has 110 locations and offers banking, investment and insurance services.

Frost has 27 Tarrant County offices, and ranks fourth in banking size in the county behind JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, according to the FDIC.
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