Derrick Kinney can't buy groceries. He can't go out for a hamburger, can't go window-shopping, can't even stop off at the dry-cleaners. Everywhere, people eye him over their shoulder, point, whisper.
That's what happens when you become a … financial adviser?
"It's not unusual that someone will recognize me," he says. "But people are very nice."
Why all the public ogling for someone whose job hardly makes him a celebrity?
Kinney, who earned a bachelor's degree from UTA in 1993, appears on KXAS-TV, the local NBC affiliate, four times a week spreading the financial wisdom he has gained working for American Express. As a side gig, he runs Palladium Media Consulting, a firm that trains financial advisers nationwide to work with the media.
An October 2002 telephone survey conducted by Phoenix-based ASAP Solutions found Kinney to be the Metroplex's most recognized financial adviser. Callers asked participants to name any financial adviser; Kinney's name came back most often.
"It's just from the TV," he allowed.
It's a facet of his life that almost didn't happen.
After graduation, he went to work for a small software development firm. The job lasted less than two years, then he joined American Express because he couldn't shake his passion for studying the economy. And he put his communication degree to use, too, contacting local television producers to advertise his services as an on-air financial expert.
"The first time I was on, the producer said, 'You're made for television,' " he said. "That really motivated me." Six years and three stations later, he's a regular.
He literally grew into the role. As a child, he recorded in a book every penny he ever spent. He hoarded, too, sometimes lending his friends money and expecting a return, plus interest, based on his loan amortization chart. But Kinney, now 34, also proved himself a fund-raiser when, as UTA Student Congress president in 1993, he developed "Give Up a Coke for Kelly" to raise money for the daughter of a prominent athletics booster.
Kinney also gives $50 a month to an outstanding student leader at Sam Houston High School, his alma mater, and offers a similar gift to Martin High School, where many of his clients' children attend. He hasn't forgotten UTA, either, which named the Student Congress architecture chair for him.
Such generosity doesn't surprise Student Governance Director Jeff Sorensen, who recalled Kinney's presidency as one geared toward inclusiveness. "He started mobile offices where congress would set up info-gathering points in the schools and the colleges," Sorensen said. "And he was a very good listener. He had the ability to make everybody want to be on the team and contribute to the team."
He's a one-man team now with his three roles. Make that four. Kinney, who's been married 10 years, has three children he doesn't want to miss growing up. So he works late just once a week, otherwise heading home among the 5 o'clock throng.
Many of whom just know that they've seen him somewhere before.
— Danny Woodward