2023-4_Why I Became a Personal CFO (Kenny Burkhead)

By Kenny Burkhead

What did you want to be when you grew up? While some of us are still trying to figure that out, most people don’t end up fulfilling their childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut or sports pro. Myself, I played competitive baseball from age 7 all the way through college, playing all over the country (sometimes against future MLB players) and winning multiple championships and awards; yet I never became a professional baseball player. But sometimes we get to do something even better—the thing we were meant to do. 

Growing up, I always loved math and numbers, which runs in my family. I thought I would be an engineer and go into construction like my dad. (My dad is a numbers wiz and my brother is a math nerd like me.) Throughout high school and college, I took advanced math classes, but by the time I reached Calculus 2, I was burnt out and didn’t want to take any more math. So I consulted my college advisor, who said I had enough math credits to switch to a finance major and be done for the rest of school! This was a pivotal moment in my education and future career in finance. Between being great with numbers and loving the strategy of baseball, my mind was officially blown wide open, and I could see the career possibilities. Once I took my first finance class, I was hooked and never looked back. This led to a career in the finance industry, and eventually to my current role as a Personal CFO. 

Getting Started

My first job out of college was in Fund Accounting at State Street. Over the next four years, I was promoted to various positions and gained invaluable experience working deep in the financial markets, handling everything involved in the inner workings of a mutual fund (except what to buy and sell, that was made by PIMCO, but we had to execute anything they wanted done). Again, the strategies of baseball became a lifeline as I did a lot of math, problem-solving, and explaining my reasonings. This sparked a deeper love for finance and how the markets work, as well as gave me a very thorough understanding of the financial system (the “inside baseball” of the industry, if you will)—knowledge I still utilize every day. During that time, I thought my dream job was to manage a hedge fund or private equity fund. The intelligence and skill it takes to analyze a trade or company and employ a trading strategy is very difficult—yet I love every aspect of it. 

While I loved what I did—getting to use my skills in math and critical thinking and being challenged to grow and learn—I also started to fall out of love with corporate finance. I enjoyed working with and talking to my clients but hated going to work every day feeling like a cog in the large corporate wheel. The workload was intense and the pay didn’t match the pressure. I was stressed all the time and the job wasn’t as rewarding as it once had been. Also, it was common practice to focus more attention on the clients who brought in the most money and push other clients to the bottom of the pile, so to speak. That never sat right with me, and I knew it was time for a change.

My Career Today

Making the switch to personal finance was the best decision I ever made. It was a huge risk, but it has paid off. Bryan Sarff has been a great mentor and positioned me to succeed by maximizing my skill set for our clients and firm. I came to this company as a paraplanner and worked my way up to buying into the company. I became the Chief Financial Officer of True Wealth in 2021.

For the last three years or so, my specialty has been working with high-net-worth professionals and business owners—people still in the day-to-day weeds of managing their businesses—as their personal CFO. We have expanded this service to include families and function as a virtual family office (VFO), which is something truly unique in Kansas City. In my expanded role, each day is different, no two situations are the same, and I help people in many different ways.

Why I Love What I Do

There are many things I love about being a Personal CFO. I love seeing people achieve their dreams. I love being a resource to my clients by having answers in stressful situations. I love the challenge of taking the complexities of the financial world and explaining it to people in easy-to-understand language. But most of all, I love our clients. They are the reason I get up and go to work every day. 

I also love working with the True Wealth team. Everyone here works hard, and we all have the same objective of helping our clients pursue their financial goals. With them through all the highs and lows of life, our clients often trust us as much as their spouses. (Sometimes we even know a secret or two before the spouse does and have been excited to help with birthday and anniversary presents on several occasions!) We develop such close and long-lasting relationships that it feels as if we are experiencing life with them. It’s a wonderful experience you have to live to fully understand—and I’m grateful to have that opportunity every day. 

Want to Know More? 

Sometimes our path in life may not look like what we expected, but it can lead us to where we were always meant to be. I thought I would end up following in my dad’s footsteps career-wise; but education and opportunity opened new doors that I hadn’t previously considered. I’m so glad I took the leap of faith to pursue something new and different, because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else than what I’m doing today. 

Maybe you aren’t where you thought you would be right now, or maybe you feel like you still have a long way to go to reach your destination. Wherever you find yourself on your financial journey, True Wealth & Company can help you pursue your goals with confidence. If you’re ready to start walking your path to financial independence so you too can make work optional, contact us today by calling (913) 653-8783 or emailing GetStarted@RetireWithTrue.com. We look forward to working with you!

About Kenny

Kenny Burkhead is Chief Investment Officer and Personal CFO at True Wealth & Company, LLC, a fully independent firm, and has been working in the finance world since 2010. His services cover all areas of the wealth management process, including investment strategies, retirement planning, risk management, estate conservation, and insurance planning. Kenny acts as a holistic wealth manager and CFO to help professionals and business owners move toward a work-optional lifestyle, and highly values developing personal relationships along the way.

Kenny has an associate’s degree in business from Barton County Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Emporia State University. He lives in Lenexa with his wife and four daughters. Kenny is a dedicated health and fitness junkie (ranked in the top 4% in the world in his CrossFit age group), loves smashing the golf ball down the fairway, and is an avid fan of NBA basketball, Formula One racing, the KU Jayhawks, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Above all, he enjoys traveling the country with his family and spending time in the company of good friends and family. To learn more about Kenny, connect with him on LinkedIn.