When Steve Kanaly graduated from college 25 years ago, it seemed like he was destined for a lifelong career in financial services.
He was, after all, the eldest son of E. Deane Kanaly, a pioneer of fee-only financial planning and an outspoken critic of his commission-based colleagues.
The senior Kanaly was fighting battles on other fronts as well. He was waging a personal campaign against bank trust services, which he felt too often put revenue ahead of client interests. A former bank trust officer himself, Deane Kanaly had six months ear-
lier founded Kanaly Trust Co. of Houston, the first independent trust company in Texas and one of the very few in the nation.
Steve Kanaly, meanwhile, had just graduated from the University of Texas with a major in finance and a minor in trusts and estates. His father's work and his new company intrigued him.
So why did he apply to become an FBI agent? "I wanted to make sure I was Steve Kanaly," he recalls. "My dad had always been successful. He was an icon in the financial planning industry and already a rogue and icon in the trust industry. I just didn't want to be someone who tagged onto his coattails."
Kanaly eventually did get accepted into an FBI training program. In fact, he laughingly recalls how shocked his friends and relatives were when they received calls from FBI agents who were checking his background.
But as Kanaly tells this story, he is sitting at a desk at Kanaly Trust Co., which he joined in 1976, and where he and his two brothers are co-chairmen.
Chalk one up for destiny. "I finally decided I liked what my father was doing, and that's OK," Kanaly says. "It took three or four hours and a couple of beers to figure that out."
Kanaly says he has no regrets about his decision to not pursue FBI training and to join the trust company instead shortly after his college graduation. He also is following his father in another way: by taking a leadership role in the fee-only movement. Named chairman of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors in May, Kanaly is a spokesman for fee-only advisors.