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Katie Pemble found her entrepreneurial stride later in her career

“Let there be some frivolity. You did this because you wanted to, so enjoy it. And trust your instincts. Trust yourself and what you’re bringing.” –Katie Pemble, Adelphi Trust Co.

Adelphi Trust Co. has $140 million in assets under management.
Adelphi Trust Co. has $140 million in assets under management.
Photo by Mark Wemple
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Katie Pemble never had dreams of owning her own company as a young adult. But after 35 years in Florida banking and wealth management, she had the skills and experience to do just that.

Pemble previously served as president of Bank of America in Pinellas County; CEO and board member of Florida Bank in Tampa; and president and board member of C1 Bank in St. Petersburg. In 2015, she launched her own consulting firm, helping clients with lending and capital. She obtained a Florida real estate license and investment management license and became a certified financial planner, and it was while working with clients in this manner that the idea to start her own trust company was born.

“It was an aha moment for me that this is a generational type of business I’m now doing,” says Pemble, 59. “There are two certainties in life: taxes and death. And that is where I came to the realization that if I have these things I worry about and my clients are worrying about them, there’s a real need to help people prepare for those things. And that’s really what a trustee does. … I think everything I’ve done in my career has led me to this point.”

She got co-founder Gentry B. Byrnes, an attorney, on board with the idea, and after four years of research, planning and preparation, St. Petersburg–based Adelphi Trust Co. opened its doors in August 2022. It’s the first bank or trust company in the state of Florida founded, run and majority-owned by women. Once the two saw that their experience and credentials were lining up to make them trailblazers, they realized “we have to be first,” recalls Pemble. “Why let someone else be the first?”


Adelphi Trust, with $140 million in assets under management, has a nine-member board, and its eighth employee starts at the firm June 3. “Since opening we’ve had 20 consecutive months of growth,” says Pemble. “Every month we’ve grown our number of clients and our number of accounts. We’ve grown our assets under management, and we’ve grown our revenue.”

The team has been a big reason for that success. “We have 187 years of experience, collectively, in this business," she says, "and this is a very relational business. When you’ve got professionals who have been in this industry and doing this work for that long in the Tampa Bay area, you’re bound to have people calling you who are interested in hearing what you’re doing now in this new company.”

Early challenges

St. Petersburg–based Adelphi Trust Co. opened its doors in August 2022.
Photo by Mark Wemple

Starting a trust company is no easy task. “You can’t just do it,” says Pemble. “You have to go through a very deliberate, arduous process with the regulator, and you have to apply for a charter to have a business in this industry. And that application process is very in-depth.”

The process included 18 to 24 months of planning, with Pemble and Byrnes needing to put together their team, assemble their board of directors, raise capital, find real estate and build the infrastructure necessary to run their business. It took seven months from application to charter approval.

Biggest mistake

Pemble’s biggest mistake early on? Not letting her capable team run with their roles. “I micromanaged everything,” she admits. “Fortunately, my team was like, ‘Timeout Katie, this is not working. It’s not going to work for you, it’s not going to work for me, and it’s certainly not going work for the company.’

“Fortunately, I took that feedback to heart and just backed off and did what they needed me to do,” she continues. “That was the biggest mistake as an entrepreneur that I made, thinking that I had to know and do and instruct on everything.”

Tipping point

Pemble says the moment she knew they were on to something with Adelphi was about four months in. “We had clients give us feedback, and (one) couple was so articulate in how great their experience was and how they’ve not experienced that with previous investment managers or previous trust companies,” she says. “And about how they felt like they had finally found their place. And they articulated it using some of the same words that Gentry and I thought about when we had our vision for what we would be for our clients.”

At that point, the company didn’t have as many clients as Pemble and Byrnes had hoped. “We probably didn’t even have all our furniture in place,” says Pemble. “But what we had was that client experience told to us. We were like, yes, we just have to make sure we’re doing what we can to have many of them.”

Best advice 

Pemble’s words of wisdom? Trust yourself. Don’t let up at all. And enjoy yourself along the way. 

“Let there be some frivolity,” she says. “You did this because you wanted to, so enjoy it. And trust your instincts. Trust yourself and what you’re bringing.”

The people you bring into your venture also matter. “It might be received as cliché, but it’s not. It’s so true to put the very best people around you, and then listen to them and let them know you want to hear them,” she says. “Hire the best you can, and then give them an open forum to tell you what to do.”



Beth Luberecki

Nokomis-based freelance writer Beth Luberecki, a Business Observer contributor, writes about business, travel and lifestyle topics for a variety of Florida and national publications. Her work has appeared in publications and on websites including Washington Post’s Express, USA Today, Florida Trend, and Learn more about her at

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