Frank was born in Blackhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He was educated at Marlborough College and then entered the estate agency profession, in which he remained all his life, eventually becoming recognised as the "head" of the profession in Britain. He was head of the firms of Knight, Frank & Rutley of London and Walton & Lee of Edinburgh and was president of the Estate Agents' Institute from 1912 to 1914.
In 1916 he was appointed honorary adviser to the Ministry of Munitions on land valuation. The following year he became Director-General of Lands to the War Office and Air Ministry as well as the Ministry of Munitions, holding the post until 1922. After the First World War he also served as deputy chairman and then chairman of the Disposals Board, which was charged with disposing of surplus war materiel. He served on a number of public committees and Royal Commissions in the 1920s and 1930s.
Frank was knighted in 1914, appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 1918 Birthday Honours and created a baronet in the 1920 Birthday Honours for his wartime services. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 1924 Birthday Honours.
He died suddenly of a heart attack after dinner at his home in Cheyne Walk, London. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eight-year-old son, also called Howard (born 5 April 1923). Later that year, his widow Nancy Muriel (née Brooks) married Wing Commander (later Air Marshal Sir) Arthur Coningham. Lieutenant Sir Howard Frank was killed in action while serving with the Grenadier Guards on 10 September 1944 at the age of 21, and was succeeded by his younger brother, Robert (born 16 March 1925).