R. G. “Kelly” Caldwell Jr., Caldwell Trust Company CEO and president, began his professional career in 1988 when he returned to the Venice area after finishing college. A high-honors engineering graduate from Georgia Institute of Technology, Kelly had planned to attend law school but first wanted to learn more about his father business, Caldwell & Company. Roland had established the registered advisory firm in the 1970s to provide investment guidance for the trust industry; by the 1980s he was also publishing a respected investment newsletter and serving as trust consultant for a major Venice bank. Young Kelly joined Caldwell & Company and never looked back.
In late 1992, Roland, Kelly, and a few hand-picked colleagues decided to form a new company with a primary focus on family trusts and a commitment to remain independent. They worked through most of 1993 on their application, which would make Caldwell one of the few independent trust companies in Florida. Caldwell Trust Company received its charter on November 1, 1993, signed its first client on November 2, and has continued to grow ever since. “We still retain many of our early clients,” Kelly says.
Roland’s intimate knowledge of the trust industry and Kelly’s engineering talent—coupled with their strong entrepreneurial spirits and keen intuitions—resulted in the creation of unique proprietary software, providing a substantial competitive edge that persists to this day. Their personal emphasis on philanthropy and deep concern for individuals add to the mix, making Caldwell a juggernaut in the industry.
When Roland retired in 2007, Kelly succeeded him as CEO of Caldwell Trust Company and its parent company, Trust Companies of American. Since then, total assets under management, total annual income, and stockholder equity have increased by more than 85%. All departments have been expanded and built out, especially the Information Technology (IT) function. Blending Kelly’s background with the company’s IT staff continues to generate significant improvements in productivity and profitable growth.
The company focuses on people, both in hiring staff and in addressing client concerns—the functions Kelly views as the most rewarding parts of his job. “Taking care of families is a primary mission here,” he says. “We get to know each family and its goals, we take care of their special needs, and we ensure that their wishes for their families are fulfilled. It’s also exciting working with our highly skilled team members.”
Kelly is passionate about donating his time to the Venice community where he grew up. Among his pro bono causes are the Argus Foundation, where he was a two-term president and remains a board member. He also serves on the boards of the Florida Bankers Association's Trust Executive Committee, the Sarasota Sheriff's Office Charitable Foundation, and Suncoast Charities for Children. He is a proud alumnus of the Leadership Florida Class of XXVIII.
Kelly is a licensed pilot and travels often with his is wife Melissa and their three boys, Brooks, Zach and Chase. They also enjoy boating, diving, fishing, tennis, and more.
Caldwell Trust Company has impressive, state-of-the-art offices in its custom-built Venice headquarters and its lovingly restored Sarasota home. The business currently has over 1.5 billion dollars in assets under management. It also serves as a trust manager and trustee for families, allocating client assets into stocks, bonds, and other investments. A third focus is its retirement plan services for employers that provide retirement plans for their employees.