How a former Eckerd’s drugstore cashier became major player in the financial services industry

Kenny Baer was featured in Atlanta Business Chronicle's "Meet the C-Suite" which features some of the city's most high profile c-level executives.

December 6, 2017

Phil W. Hudson

Staff Writer 

Atlanta Business Chronicle

Welcome to Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Meet the C-Suite,” where each week we will feature one of the city’s most high profile c-level executives.

This week meet Kenny Baer, managing partner of Marietta-based Baer Wealth Management.

  • Name: Kenny Baer    
  • Company: Baer Wealth Management
  • Title: Managing Partner
  • Headquarters: Marietta
  • Background: I started my career in the financial services industry straight out of school. I briefly exited the financial services industry to work on the financial side of professional sports.
  • First Job: I worked at Eckerd’s Drug Store as a cashier in the same office park where our company is located today.
  • Education: Sports Management/Minor Business from Elon University; Certified Financial Planner degree from Oglethorpe University
  • Residence: Roswell/East Cobb 

Business Strategy

How’s business: Business is great. We have had year over year growth of more than 25 percent in the last 5 years. Our client base continues to grow and we are also growing from a hiring standpoint.

Biggest challenge for your business: Sustaining our growth rate regardless of stock market performance. The challenge in our business is educating clients so they have realistic expectations of what to expect from their accounts. We are a firm that refuses to sell people a bill of goods. We pride ourselves on telling our customers the truth about what they can and should expect from us. In our industry, we often combat competition who essentially try to tell clients that they can predict the future. 

What’s going to change at your company in the next year: We are looking to expand through acquisition and I expect to make our first acquisition before the end of next year. 

Company goal yet to be achieved: Creating a sustainable marketing campaign that leads to a consistent and predictable inflow of the right type of prospective clients.

Management philosophy

Guiding principles for good management: I believe that the office should be a fun place to be. You spend as much time at work as most anywhere else so we are always working to create a culture and an environment where people can be effective and happy. That is not only better for the staff but also for our clients. I like to give our staff the opportunity to better themselves via education, or any other ideas they have that can help them further their own careers. Ultimately, I think that is just better for them, their families and also for our firm. I believe that a collaborative environment is a thriving environment. Asking for advice and getting everyone’s thoughts and opinions helps build a strong team.

Best way to keep competitive edge: Staying educated on what is available financially to best serve our clients. Essentially you don’t know what you don’t know. So, we try to stay abreast of the best available options and strategies for our clients. The world is constantly changing and I see it as our duty to best serve our clients by being informed about what they can potentially do to reach their goals. 

Why people like working for you: I try to accentuate my employee’s positive attributes and put them in a position to succeed. 

Most inspiring entrepreneur: I don’t know if I would specifically call this person an “entrepreneur,” but I think Jim Carrey has an incredibly inspirational story. He wrote himself a $10M check years before he had made it as an actor and had enough belief in himself that he was one day going to be able to cash it. He also learned from his father that you can fail doing something you settle for, so you might as well go after your dream. If you fail, fail at doing something you love. 

I also admire John Paul Dejoria, founder of Paul Mitchell. He had found success but then lost it all and even lived in his car for some time. But he bounced back with only $700 to his name and grew his business into the billion-dollar company that it is today. His story reminds me of a favorite line in my favorite poem: “If”, by Rudyard Kipling: “If you can make one heap of all your winnings, risk it on one turn of pitch and toss, and lose and start again at your beginnings, and never breathe a word about your loss.”  

Judgment calls

Best business decision: Purchasing the practice from my father at a time when I did not know whether or not I could really afford to do it. Having the belief in yourself that you can just make it happen. I included many of the lessons I learned as an entrepreneur in the book I recently wrote, “One Shot.” It offers strategic and tactical advice to entrepreneurs and small business owners who are ready to sell the companies they founded.

Hardest lesson learned and how you learned it: Patience, and trust that things will get done. I can expect things quickly but if something is ten deep on a to-do list, then I need patience and trust to accept that eventually it will get done. I’m still learning it!

Toughest business decision: Hiring, when to hire, whether to hire internally or to outsource, etc. It is never clear cut what the right move is.

Biggest missed opportunity: I wouldn’t say it was a missed opportunity, but I wish I would never have left the industry for the brief time I did. It was a learning experience so I can’t say I regret it but that departure just delayed the success that we have today. 

True confessions

Like best about job: From an internal perspective, I enjoy working with our staff. We have really talented and great people. In regards to our clients, I like helping them solve their problems and acting as their personal CFO. It is very rewarding to implement a strategy for a client that puts them on a track to achieve all their financial goals.

Like least about job: Keeping organized and detailing notes from conversations I have.

Pet peeve: People who just ignore you or don’t respond. We often joke that we should just send the spouse flowers and tell them we are sorry for their loss because the only rational reason they have not responded is they are dead. 

First choice for a new career: I would probably be an actor, writer, or standup comedian.


Most influential book: Unbroken, the Laura Hillenbrand book about Louis Zamperini. A true story about a man who survived the most incredible hardships and was able to rebuild his spirit. A true inspiration and an American hero. 

Favorite cause: Children’s Restoration Network. They help support homeless children throughout the Atlanta area. Over the last couple of years, we have donated more than 500 toys to their organization through multiple initiatives including our annual Holiday Toy Drive. 

Favorite restaurant: Little Alley in Roswell: Great steaks and a great bourbon selection.

Favorite way to spend free time: I enjoy spending time with my wife and children doing something fun. My daughter, Sunny, who is 5, and my son, MJ, who is 3, are up for most anything but my daughter has especially enjoyed indoor rock climbing, and my son loves going to the golf course. I enjoy being with them where they are burning off energy! 

I personally enjoy exercise, college football, and playing golf. It depends on the day in which order I prefer those. It really just depends on how well I am playing golf at the time!

Favorite music: I have extremely eclectic taste, after just glancing at my music list, I see Kid Cudi, Hank Williams Jr., Bill Withers, Taylor Swift, and the Grateful Dead.