When Susan Hines was hired by Sabal Trust Co. in Sarasota six years ago, she became the "heir apparent" for the office's managing principal role.
So when Sabal Trust announced last year that G. Lowe Morrison, then the managing principal of the Sarasota office for the St. Petersburg-based firm, was beginning to transition to a part-time role, Hines wasn’t surprised. Her promotion was happening.
“They needed someone with a good reputation and who cared about the community,” she says. “I knew it had the potential to happen."
Even though the promotion wasn't surprising, Hines remained entirely comfortable in her previous position. "I would have been happy if it didn’t happen because I enjoy what I do.”
The official announcement was made in July, though Hines has been managing principal since the beginning of 2022.
But being a managing principal at a trust company wasn’t always her career plan.
Hines started her career in law, as an attorney for Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg P.A., now a full-service law firm in Sarasota known as Icard Merrill. Along the way, she would meet people who would tell her, “you’d be a good trust officer.”
“I didn’t even know what that was,” she says.
Hines finally entered the industry with SunTrust Bank, which led to a 17-year career at The Northern Trust Co.. Before coming to Sabal Trust, Hines also had been worked at Sarasota-based Caldwell Trust Co., where she was a vice president and senior trust officer.
As managing principal of the Sarasota office at Sabal, meanwhile, Hines has kept the same clients as before the transition, only now she manages a team as well. Part of that transition included the addition of Tammie Sandoval-Badger as principal and senior fiduciary officer and Joel Johnson as principal and portfolio manager. Johnson previously worked out of Tampa for the Sanibel Captiva Trust Co. and Sandoval-Badger, a Business Observer 40 under 40 winner in 2013, held a position at BMO Private Banking for just under 12 years.
“We really transitioned thoughtfully,” Hines says, adding the company notified clients first of the changes.
The personnel additions turned out to be the hardest part of the transition. “It’s a challenging job market to find great people,” Hines says.
Since both Johnson and Sandoval-Badger have been trust industry professionals for several years, Hines says there needed to be a good reason for them to leave their previous jobs. “All of us get calls from recruiters,” she says.
For Sandoval-Badger, becoming a partial owner of the company was “attractive,” Hines says, comparing the title to the likes of being a law firm partner.
Even the interview process was different for Hines. In a previous position, Hines managed the hiring side of things. Then she was interviewing people to add as teammates. But now “it's a different interview because I’m looking at a potential business partner.”
For now, the team is done growing. Typically, a team taps out at about six people, Hines says. The Sarasota office has seven with Morrison still there. As the second largest Sabal Trust location, and the fastest growing, Hines says when they decide to grow they’ll be adding a second team.
“It would be great to see a second team here and be the second largest location,” Hines says of her goals. “We’re really close. To be second would be wonderful. We’re still a young trust company.”
Sabal Trust's Sarasota office opened 15 years ago. Currently, the minimum account size for clients to work with the Sarasota location is $2 million.
Even though she's looking to grow, Hines wants to do it right.
"Make sure it's a right fit," she says. "I'd rather grow smartly than growing just to grow."