Vice President and Trust Officer at Caldwell Trust Company
One of the most important lessons Sonya Kristie has learned on the job is to treat clients like they’re your parents.
The advice came from Kristie’s mentor, Jan Miller.
Kristie likes to think of it as your parents doing a lot for you growing up. “Sometimes it turns around and you have to assist them,” she says. “It’s more so having genuine care for your clients.”
Having that relationship with them is important, she says, especially when so many of their families aren’t nearby.
As a vice president and trust officer for Venice-based Caldwell Trust Co., Kristie’s clients tend to be older. So by forming a connection with them as if they were her parents, it allows her to provide a better experience.
Miller, an executive vice president and trust officer at the firm, was crucial to helping Kristie get where she is today, especially with a background in nonprofit organizations and finance. Kristie's day-to-day role at Caldwell includes serving as wealth manager for trusts, IRA’s, estates and investment management relationships. She also assists her clients with budgeting, estate planning, investments, taxes and legal matters, in conjunction with their accountants and attorneys.
Kristie joined the company in 2003, working part-time in the Venice office while finishing her associate's degree and waiting tables at a Venice restaurant. Caldwell Trust President and CEO R.G. "Kelly Caldwell, later connected Krisite with Miller in the company's Sarasota office, where Kristie started as an intern.
“Her experience has been really helpful in my position,” says Kristie. And one important lesson Kristie has learned from Miller translates easily from work to life. The lesson? Never assume. "Following this hard-learned lesson makes everything easier," Kristie says.
Miller has also encouraged Kristie to become involved in the community, going so far as to introduce Kristie to many people. Since then, Kristie has found many ways to get involved , including becoming a K9 handler with the Sarasota K9 Search & Rescue organization. Learning about the organization through her neighbors, it turned out to be a great opportunity for Kristie and her dog. She’s been with the organization for nine years now.
Kristie has also expanded her education credentials significantly since starting at Caldwell Trust. Most recently, she earned her Juris Masters, a legal degree, from Florida State University. She also recently completed the Florida Bankers Association Florida Graduate Trust School program.
Name: Sonya Kristie
City of Residence: Sarasota
Employer: Caldwell Trust Company
Title: Vice President and Trust Officer
Years in the area: 38
Marital Status/Children: Single/0
Alma Mater/Degree: FSU/Juris Master in Financial Regulation and Compliance
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Sarasota K9 Search and Rescue
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? I wouldn't say that I have had a weird job. They have all been pretty normal.
What's your top tip for being productive? Self discipline to prioritize and stay organized.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Gardening
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Watching movies
Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? No- but I wish!
What's the top item on your bucket list? To visit/hike Banff Canada
What's your favorite podcast? My Favorite Murder
Where is your happy place? In the woods
Describe yourself in three words: Dedicated, loyal, motivated
Who is your mentor for your career and why? Jan Miller has guided me through the basics of working for a private trust company. She has also led me down the path of becoming an experienced trust officer.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? 1. Never assume!! This is in regard to anything in life. Following this hard-learned lesson makes everything easier.
2. Treat your clients as though they are your parents. (I do love and appreciate my parents).