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Adelphi becomes state’s first female-founded trust company

Mark Parker



From left: Julie Johnson, chief operations officer; Katie Pemble, co-founder and CEO; Gentry Barnett Byrnes, co-founder and chief fiduciary officer; and Alan Stegeman, chief compliance officer for Adelphi Trust. Photo provided.

As demographics evolve and aging Baby Boomers undergo a historic transfer of wealth, St. Petersburg is now home to the state’s only trust company founded, managed and majority-owned by women.

Adelphi Trust recently announced that representatives from the Florida Office of Financial Regulation visited the company’s downtown St. Petersburg headquarters on Aug. 12, to mark the receipt of its trust charter. The occasion followed the company’s co-founders raising $5 million in less than 30 days in May – 73% of which was provided by female investors.

Adelphi’s motto is “we exist to protect,” and the company plans to offer a dedicated and modern approach to trust and wealth management with a female perspective. Ahead of its public launch on Sept. 1, Co-founder and CEO Katie Pemble, CFP, told the Catalyst what it feels like to make Florida business history.

“It feels wonderful,” said Pemble succinctly. “At the same time, we scratch our heads a little bit that it’s 2022 before that happened.”

Pemble said Adelphi’s launch comes about five years after she realized that a female-led and owned firm could benefit clients, the industry and women in general. Pemble added that she and her co-founder, Gentry Barnett Byrnes, JD, are still wrapping their heads around the historic accomplishment.

Adelphi’s leadership, explained Pemble, felt there was an opportunity to modernize the industry by incorporating more technology into its strategic planning, management and delivery of services. She said the company plans to capitalize on the digital experience to cater to clients’ needs and better serve individuals and families.

Pemble said Adelphi would primarily focus on family trusts, estate planning for the living and estate settlement for those that have passed away. However, she also noted the importance of providing fiduciary services to help people plan their financial futures.

Many well-known investment and financial companies, she said, may act and behave as if a client’s needs come before its shareholders. However, unlike Adelphi, there are no regulators to ensure that is the case. As the nation continues to see an influx of wealth, she added that the conglomerates that do possess trust charters have turned their focus on clients with several million in their accounts.

“So, what’s happening is – there’s becoming a void in the marketplace for someone with $500,000 to say, $10 million,” said Pemble. “Clients and individuals who have that amount of money need a fiduciary – somebody who will absolutely always put the client’s bests interests in front of their own … and that’s what we’re here to provide.

“And that’s why a trust company charter issued by the State of Florida is so hard to obtain.”

Adelphi’s co-founders began their careers in St. Petersburg decades ago. As a trust and estate attorney, Pemble said Byrnes worked for a prominent law firm before transitioning to the financial side. For the last 10 years, she served as the chief fiduciary officer at Raymond James.

Pemble spent 18 years with Bank of America before becoming CEO of two local, privately owned commercial banks. She said their careers intertwined, and both were lucky enough to see the “wonderful” growth of St. Petersburg’s financial industry.

That growth is one reason the co-founders chose St. Petersburg as Adelphi’s headquarters. It occupies the 12th floor of the City Center building downtown and will open to the public Sept. 1.

“And you can look around at the cranes going up for these condos – and really nice condos – and know that more wealth is moving into the area,” said Pemble. “We really believe that St. Petersburg is the right place to launch the next privately owned trust company in Florida, and there’s only 14 of us.”

As Baby Boomers continue to age, Pemble noted the nation is undergoing “the Great Wealth Transfer.” The Wall Street Journal reported that experts expect boomers to transfer over $70 trillion to Gen X and Millennials between 2018 and 2042. A recent McKinsey & Company study stated that by 2030, women would control most of the $30 trillion held by that generation.

Pemble called that an astounding amount of money changing hands and described the transfer as “truly epic” when recruiting Adelphi’s 43 shareholders.

As Florida also continues to attract the highest percentage of relocating retirees, she believes the need for fiduciary service providers will increase exponentially.

“We’re very proud that our management team and our board (seven women, two men) has been fully vetted and committed to the state, and the state has approved us to serve as a fiduciary,” said Pemble. “There’s very few investment entities and investment providers that have that.”

There is also the value added by offering a female perspective, she said. She relayed that throughout their careers, Adelphi’s co-founders have often witnessed financial firms that do not cater to the needs of women or speak to them in a meaningful way.

As a female-owned company, Pemble believes that Adelphi will provide an opportunity for those clients to receive the same service and advice as their male counterparts.

She added that research also shows that female financial advisors focus more broadly on an individual or family’s long-term goals when offering advice, rather than just investment performance over the last year. While she stressed that prudent investing is always an important part of planning for the future, she believes that women often get to know clients and their heirs a little deeper, which allows for more productive and meaningful communication across multiple generations.

Pemble expects Adelphi’s unique hierarchy to attract female clientele but emphasizes the company will operate like any other business. She wants to market and provide services to anyone across the I-4 corridor that needs them, regardless of gender.

“And we think St. Petersburg is the right place for the headquarters,” said Pemble. “No matter where our branches are.”



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