Q: How did you gravitate into lending into turnaround or distressed situations as opposed to other types of lending?
KANE: As you know, 98% of the bankers who participate in TMA are lenders. I am not. I’m a transactional services guy, so I work in US Bank’s Global Corporate Trust Services, which involves corporate and municipal debt and leasing services for rare cars and aircraft. Hearing that, most people say, “Why would you want to be in TMA?”
There are a number of reasons. I’m a transactional service provider, so when people do deals, any type of deal—good, bad, or in-between—they need the services that we provide. Sometimes they need a distribution agent. Sometimes they need a paying agent. Sometimes they need an escrow agent. Sometimes they need a liquidation agent. And sometimes they need a new trustee. Those are the services we provide to the restructuring industry.
Q: How long have you been doing that?
KANE: I’ve been at it for a while for a lot of different banks. When I first entered the business in 1979, I was working for Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. I spent my early years there until I got an offer I couldn’t refuse from Bank of Boston, where I worked for about five years. Then a bank in Hartford, Connecticut National Bank, gave me a call. As a result of a series of sales, that bank went from being Connecticut National Bank to becoming Shawmut Bank to becoming Fleet Bank. Fleet sold our division to State Street Bank. We worked for State Street Bank for about seven years, and then we were fortunate enough to join the US Bank family at the end of 2002.
As I said, if you’re going to do deals, you need the services we provide. TMA has lawyers, and lawyers know when people like me are needed. They are excellent referral sources. Turnaround guys also know when the services that we provide are needed.
Q: What have been some of your favorite or most gratifying situations, particularly those involving companies that were working with turnaround/restructuring professionals?
KANE: When I got to the Connecticut National Bank—so we’re talking about the late ‘80s, early ‘90s—I worked on some bankruptcy transactions. Both clients happened to be in Texas. One was a company called Thousand Trails. They had RV parks all over the country where you could hang out for a couple of weeks and then drive to the next one.
They got into financial trouble. We were the bond trustee, and at that time, we were allowed to sit on the bond holder committees and work closely with lawyers. I had a great relationship with Bill Herzog, who was vice president and treasurer of Thousand Trails. They issued some new debt and then some interest payments would be funded at a later date. Some of the equity people who were still involved were getting warrants out of the deal.
That’s where I got exposed to guys like Harvey Miller and Wilbur Ross, who were the big rainmakers back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s in our industry. That was good experience.
Then I worked with another outfit that did a lot of real estate work. I had the opportunity to work with their CFO as they began to wind down the company. It was very enlightening. It gave me the opportunity to meet some great professionals who made their living in distressed securities and, at the same time, to have some decent relationships with the people at the companies who were figuring out how to make all this happen. I found that exciting and enjoyable.Q:
Q: If you could start your career over, would you do anything differently?
KANE: No. The way it is is the way it was supposed to be. When I look back on it, I’m happy and thankful for the career I’ve had. I’ve traveled all over the country, met some wonderful people, and had the opportunity to join TMA and develop friendships that have lasted over the past 17 or 18 years. So, today when I think about it, I’m a very lucky man to have done what I have done. I have no regrets.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone who is new to the industry or is thinking about getting into the industry?
KANE: My advice would be to make sure you have managers who are supportive of allowing you to go out and network with people in your industry. It’s great for you to do that when you’re young. If you form formative, solid relationships while you’re young, they’ll help you for the rest of your career. You’ll be sitting back 25 years later saying, “Do you remember when we were young, and we did such-and-such?” You’ll be able to go to that same person, whether that’s a lawyer, an advisor, an appraiser, or a turnaround specialist, when you need something down the road.
If the corporation is going to support this initiative, then go ahead and roll up your sleeves and be proactive. When people come to our meetings, I always tell them, “If you think you’re going to show up here one or two times and walk out the door with a whole lot of business because you’re so special, then this is the wrong place for you. But if you’re willing to come to meetings, meet people, take the opportunities to assume positions of leadership, you’ll get a lot out of it.”
When I came to TMA Connecticut, my first gig was as the secretary. I took notes for our board meetings. Then I became vice president of membership. That’s a good role because you get to meet all the new members and talk to new people about why they should become a member.
People take networking for granted. One of the best things that’s happened to me in my whole career is the network I’ve built, and the fun I have and the people I’ve met as a result. It’s not only the business that I’ve got through my network but the personal relationships that I’ve developed that go far beyond just generating new business. If you have the opportunity and you have a management team that’s willing support your networking initiatives, go out there and do it.
The more you do, the easier it will become. Not everybody knows how to hit the floor dancing. Because I know I was that person at one time, when I see somebody new come to a meeting, I make special arrangements to greet them and introduce them to whoever they want to know. Hopefully, as the result of the introduction to TMA we give them when they come in the door, they’ll want to come back again. They still need support of their managers for that to happen, though. That’s key.
Q: What role has your TMA membership played in your career?
KANE: TMA was really my first foray into learning how to network. When I think about my career in general, I was lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to work for four different women who were instrumental in my career—Andrea Turlo, Deborah MacDonald, and now Anne Simmons and Melissa Vachon. They’ve always been supportive of my initiatives in industry associations, and TMA was the first one for me before I branched out into others. I got my feet wet in learning how to network and gaining an appreciation for the value of networking with TMA.
There was a sales guy in our group who had suggested that we participate in TMA. When I think back on it, that was one of the best decisions professionally I ever made because TMA has been intertwined with my career ever since. I’ve met some great professionals, and I enjoy it not only for the referral business I get but just because of the good people in general that I’m associated with in TMA.
I’ve learned a lot of new things. At the same time, I’ve had the opportunity to assume different leadership positions and learn from people who were in those positions before. I remember talking to Mike Pandolfi—he was president of our chapter a long time ago—when I became president. “Everybody’s going to bring a little bit of their own style to that job,” he said, “Don’t worry, man, you’ll be all right.”
And everything worked out all right. I had great support from David Weinstein and his wife Dorri, our chapter executive. I came in when Ron Reuter and Doug Skalka were chapter presidents. Shortly after that Kristin Mayhew became president and then I followed Kristin. Those were the people, especially Ron and Kristin, who opened their arms to me when I walked in the door. “Phil, come on in. Let’s get busy.” They were so warm and engaging that I couldn’t turn them down. Kristin Mayhew has an outstanding and genuine personality, so it’s hard to say no or run away from an opportunity when she’s involved.
We get teased in the Connecticut Chapter by other industry associations in our backyard. They say, “Whenever we come to your meetings, it seems like everybody there is a past chapter president.” I say, “That’s because we offer good value here, and we have good networking. People don’t just become president and then leave. We stay around and continue to support the chapter. We get some new folks, and eventually they get to wear the same tags as past presidents, and they stay around.”
Q: What are you passionate about outside the office?
KANE: That’s the Legacy Foundation of Hartford Inc. and the YMCA of Greater Hartford and, of course, my grandchildren and all the family. I have four grandchildren. My oldest is 22. The next one is 19. Then the next ones are 5 and 3, and there’s another one coming this December.
Q: You have the best of both worlds—young adults and little kids.
KANE: Yes, I do, and the little kids are a lot of fun.
The Connecticut Chapter has supported one of my nonprofit endeavors, the Legacy Foundation, which creates opportunities for students from some of the most disadvantaged areas of the city. At the Legacy Foundation, we have a motto, which is “Talent is universal. Opportunities are not.” Over the past eight or nine years, TMA members have invested about $60,000 into the organization from the proceeds of the chapter’s annual golf outing.
You couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to do something significant to impact children’s lives.
I committed to the chapter that we would show up at the golf tournament and report how their donation made a difference in impacting children who needed the help. We’ve taken kids on trips and provided professional leadership to these children when they needed it.
I also belong to the YMCA of Greater Hartford and served on their board. I’ve been active with them for about 30 years. I received their R.C. Knox Distinguished Leadership Award a few years ago, which blew my mind because they don’t just give it to everybody. It signifies that you’re well thought of because you’ve put in time and you’ve helped raise money. In the 30 years I’ve worked with the Y, I’ve probably helped them raise in excess of six figures.
Q: What might people who know you only in your professional capacity be most surprised to learn about you?
KANE: I used to play the piano, for about seven years. I got pretty good at it. As soon as I begin to transition to whatever is next, I’m going to pick it back up again.
I played from age 6 to 12. I also played the accordion. When I was coming through the New York Public Schools back in the day, they used to support students’ exposure to some type of music. One of the things they seemed to push at that time was accordions. So, I had that big box and I’d be home practicing. I didn’t do that long. I also liked playing the harmonica when I was young.
My parents had determined, being Depression kids, that they were going to expose us to as much as possible. My older sister is about eight years older than me, and I’m seven years older than the baby girl. My older sister played the piano and violin; I played piano and the accordion; and my younger sister played the piano and the guitar.
Another thing I enjoy is that as part of the Legacy Foundation, we have a great relationship with the Bushnell, our music center. They have Broadway shows and the symphony. We get to take our children to various events at the Bushnell. Greg Jones, founder of the Legacy Foundation, says he never has to worry about having a chaperone for kids to go the Bushnell with me around. I love seeing the orchestra play. I love looking at the percussion section. I love looking when the trombones or trumpets are going to play, the strings, and when the conductor is doing their thing. I enjoy that immensely. I get fired up. I don’t care what it is—it could be Beethoven, or it could be Hamilton. It doesn’t make a difference.
We had one of TMA’s national conferences in Chicago years ago. While I was there, I went to the Chicago Art Institute. I spent about two hours just looking at the impressionists. I love Monet and Renoir, and also Van Gogh. I could go sit somewhere for weeks just looking at their art. So, when I do retire, I’m going to visit every museum in the country that has significant impressionist works. I’ve been to Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York because that’s home. I’m a Bronx boy—I just ended up living a few different places.
And then the last thing is, I was a Life Scout, trying to become an Eagle Scout. I just never got to it.