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January 25, 2019

GBA Agriculture Committee Meets

Our longstanding committee of bankers from throughout Georgia specializing in agribusiness banking got together this week to discuss a variety of key issues and plan the annual GBA Rural Development and Lending Conference set for May 16-17 at the King and Prince Hotel, St. Simons. "This particular GBA committee has been in existence for more than 100 years and it has allowed bankers throughout all those years to consistently work together to share best practices, coordinate advocacy efforts for the industry and propagate ideas for supporting Georgia’s number-one industry. In the past year, the bankers on the committee have been particularly active in taking the lead on industry relief efforts for Hurricane Michael and an educational tour of major agribusinesses in South Georgia," said GBA Chairman John Hall, American Pride Bank, Macon, who attended the meeting. "If something needs to be done related to how banking works in the ag sector, this is the group that gets it done." Todd Harrell, United National Bank, Cairo, chairs the committee, and Danny Minick, The Citizens Bank of Americus, is vice chair. "The information sharing as part of this committee is just so important," Harrell said at the meeting in addressing his peers. "After the storm, I had customers coming into the bank with their heads between their legs. But I was able to be positive with them and support them because I was armed with the information about all the things we bankers were doing through GBA to find ways to get help for those customers." Look for details soon about the conference program and speakers.

House Committee Assignments Announced

Since publishing last week’s Legislative Update, Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) has announced the 2019 committees, and we were pleased to see a lot of returning members to the House Banks and Banking Committee along with some new members. As we reported earlier, Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) will again be chairman. The new vice chairman is Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth) and Secretary is Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange). Click here for a list of the other committee members, and an asterisk indicates a new member. Please join us in congratulating these members.
Greg Morris
Jason Ridley
Vice Chairman
Randy Nix

GBA Every Day

Tracking Eight Bills Already; Advocacy Resources Always Online

The Georgia General Assembly is in full swing and we’ve already begun monitoring a number of specific bills. Here’s a reminder that we track these as they’re filed on our State Issues page of There are already eight bills/resolutions of interest to members. You have every day access to our tracking from the Advocacy tab at the top of our website, or click here for a quick look right now. The General Assembly was not in formal session this week to give legislators on the appropriations committees time to hear from Gov. Kemp about his budget priorities as well as dig into all the agencies’ FY 2020 requests. We will publish our next Legislative Update after the Legislature completes their business for the week next Wednesday.

Our Hearts Go Out to the Victims of Sebring, FL, Bank Shooting

We at GBA and in the industry were saddened to learn about the shooting Wednesday at a SunTrust branch in Sebring, FL, in which five people died. We are praying for the victims and their loved ones. Read more about the incident here.

Farm Service Agency Reopens, Temporarily

Beginning Thursday, Farm Services Agency offices re-opened through Feb. 8. The Department of Agriculture also announced a limited operating schedule of Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays if the government shutdown continues past Feb. 8. Opening the offices will allow the FSA to offer a number of important services including making new direct and guaranteed operating loans; signing documents related to "assignment of guarantee" and two-party checks; and processing transactions related to the Margin Protection Program and disaster payments to producers whose applications have already been approved. Additionally, all existing programs under Farm Production and Conservation will continue to operate. There are limitations, however. New Farm Bill programs will not be available, nor will new direct and guaranteed farm ownership loans. More details here.

Related: See information below from GBA Strategic Partner ServiceLink about FEMA Flood Hazard Determination Forms, which continue to be valid.

Keep Info Coming about Efforts to Help in Wake of Shutdown

We continue to hear from members about efforts they have in place to help their customers affected by the partial government shutdown. Greater Community Bank in Rome, for example, released information about a special line of credit and other assistance efforts for furloughed government employees. Many banks have posted information on their websites and shared efforts through their social media channels such as Citizens Bank and Trust Company in Richmond Hill's Facebook post. We know each bank has its own unique approach to helping customers through times of crisis and need, and all those efforts are appreciated. Send us a note if you’ve got a particular effort underway, if you have an anecdote about how your bank has helped a customer or if you have information about how the shutdown is affecting families and businesses you serve. Email David Oliver and Katina Prokos.

Unique, Localized Programming Set for South Georgia Community Bank Symposium March 6

We've got a day of unique programming planned for bankers and directors coming up at 2019 South Georgia Community Bank Symposium March 6. We'll hear from a panel of finance students about their career aspirations and what can make banking an attractive career choice, we'll have an economic outlook with a local angle by Cynthia Tori, a Valdosta State University professor of economics, directors will get insight about strategic areas of focus from Jonathan Hightower of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, and a panel of our Ag Committee members will talk about the future prospects for being a strong bank for ag customers. CEOs, CFOs, bank directors, senior lenders and senior retail bank managers would all benefit from attending this event. Registration is only $159 per person. Click here to register. Please contact GBA’s Jenna Lynn Warner, 404.420.2035, with questions.

GBA Member Profile

A Lifelong Love of Banking Inspired by Dad

South State Bank Regional President Jay Forrester didn’t have to look far for a role model in the banking industry. He grew up watching his banker father develop close relationships with customers, which inspired an early interest in following in his footsteps. "I really admired how he interacted with the community and was involved in helping so many individuals and small business owners realize their dreams," Forrester said. While he grew up knowing he wanted to be a banker, he is concerned that young people today may not even consider banking as a career. "It is vital that bankers stay involved in their communities, spend time in schools and recruit top-quality talent to the industry," he said. The Group 10 representative on GBA’s BankPAC Board, Forrester tells us about the role he feels the BankPAC plays in serving our industry, lessons learned working in a bank mail room that he still uses today as well as some surprising outdoor hobbies in this week’s member profile.

Whaley Elected Chair of Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta

Congratulations to past GBA Chairman (2010-2012) Rick Whaley, The Citizens Bank of Americus, who has been elected to a two-year term as chair of FHLBank Atlanta’s board of directors. "We’re so happy for Rick, and we know the FHLBank Atlanta will be well served under his steady, effective and thoughtful leadership," said Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO. Whaley has been a director of FHLBank Atlanta since 2013 and served as vice chair of the board from 2015 to 2018. Prior to serving as vice chair, he served as chair of the bank’s Credit and Member Services Committee. FHLBank Atlanta also announced Robert L. Strickland, executive director of the Alabama Housing Finance Authority (AHFA) as its vice chair. Read more here.

Key S-Corp Rules Issued by IRS

Georgia’s 53 banks operating as Subchapter S corporations for tax purposes got some needed clarification about how they may calculate the 20-percent deduction for pass through entities in the updated tax code. In short, the rules said that core banking activities such as taking deposits and taking loans qualify for the 20-percent deduction, and that most income from sales of originated loans also qualifies. However, the IRS stopped short of issuing a full qualification of all activities of a regulated bank. As always, we encourage banks to work closely with their accountants on all the details, particularly if your S Corporation bank generates material income from activities other than traditional deposit-taking and lending. Read the final rules here.

2019 Annual Meeting Video Message from GBA Chairman John Hall

Excitement is building for GBA’s 2019 Annual Meeting June 23-26 at the Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta, Canada. GBA Chairman John Hall, American Pride Bank, Macon, is thrilled to serve as your host this summer. He discusses what the 2019 Annual Meeting has in store for bankers and their families here:
If you missed it in last week’s bulletin, click here for an early travel checklist. Early next week, watch your email for Part 2 of our checklist, which will include information on airport shuttle service, a primer on the Canadian/American exchange rate, meeting agenda details and more. With questions about the annual meeting, contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad, 404.420.2024.
Register Here

March 20-22, HR Professionals Institute

Georgia DOL One-Stop Career Center Programs Offers Resources for Vets and Employers

At the HR Professionals Institute March 20-22 on Jekyll Island, Tony McKenzie with the Georgia Department of Labor will provide attendees with details about an important department program that supports employers seeking to hire veterans. Click here for more information on McKenzie’s session. He is just one of many experts on the agenda to help bankers dealing with their financial institutions' human resources challenges. Click here to register for the conference and to see hotel information. Contact GBA’s Alison Moreau with questions, 404.420.2034.

March 25-27, Ops/Tech Conference

System Conversion Project Management & Best Practices

"Conversion" may be one of the scariest words among bank executives and staff members. When a conversion project goes awry, customer service can suffer, customers often depart, employees quit and the financial institution's reputation can be damaged for years. At GBA’s Operations and Technology Conference March 25-27 on St. Simons Island, Terrie Cloud, ICI Consulting, Charlotte, will help attendees better understand the basic project management skills necessary for a successful conversion project as well as outline best practices that should be followed in managing any project. If you are a bank technology officer, IT manager, ISO or are involved in deposit operations, business development or even compliance, you won't want to miss this conference. Register for the pre-conference sessions ($315), the conference sessions only ($375) or both ($635) before Feb. 21 for early-registration pricing. Click here to register and to see hotel information. Contact GBA’s Alison Moreau with questions, 404.420.2034.

Active Shooter Training Available this Spring

Training for an active shooter situation is unfortunately a necessity in today’s society, so we want our members to have every possible resource for preparation and prevention. Corporal Eric Rooks with the Gwinnett County Police Department will lead a session on active shooter training at the HR Professionals Institute March 20-22 on Jekyll Island, and we will also have a session on the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) course at the Security Conference April 11-12 on St. Simons. With questions about either conference, please contact Alison Moreau, 404.420.2034.

5 Perfect Ways to Increase Account Holder Loyalty in 2019

By Mark Roe, National Sales Director

As you close the books on 2018, it’s time to hit the restart button and look forward to the year ahead. Hopefully, part of that vision includes ways to more fully engage your account holders and help them embrace increased financial security. After a holiday season of strong spending, many consumers are shifting their focus to paying off debt and getting their budgets back in line. For some, this can be tough. According to a recent Bankrate survey, nearly half of all Americans have felt pressured to spend more on holiday gifts than they can comfortably afford. As a result, at this time of year far too many families and individuals find themselves in a position to make another kind of transaction - with a payday lender or the local check-cashing store - to make ends meet. Granted, this provides a quick, temporary solution when funds become short. But this type of transactional event - which is all a payday lender or check cashing business provides - can be an awkward, costly experience that does nothing to help consumers build long-term financial stability as they look to the new year. As you kick off your strategy for 2019, here are five things you can do to ensure you are providing reliable advice and the resources your account holders need to maintain their financial well-being…

Update about Flood Determination Forms from ServiceLink

Expired FEMA Flood Hazard Determination Forms are Still Valid During Shutdown

Questions have recently come up about the expiration date found on FEMA Flood Hazard Determination Forms, located in the top right-hand corner (see photo below). GBA Strategic Partner ServiceLink wants to reiterate that this date only applies to the actual government form itself and not the flood data it contains. The current form lists an expiration date of Oct. 31, 2018, and the revised version is pending approval. This current version of the FEMA form will remain valid for the foreseeable future. This form is generated and regulated by FEMA, however, due to the government shutdown, FEMA is unable to continue with the review process at this time. Therefore, they have extended the use of the current version until further notice. This is the form that FEMA requires all flood vendors to use, so all other vendors use the same version as ServiceLink. Once the government reopens, they will most likely approve the next form in 3-6 months and set an adoption date 3 years out for everyone to transition to the new form. ServiceLink will be on the forefront of that, making the changes as soon as FEMA gives the approval.
If you would like to learn more about ServiceLink’s Flood Zone Services, please contact the GBA’s Bo Brannen, 404.420.2014.

Online Classes - January & February

Build a Strong Foundation in Banking

ABA facilitated online courses feature an online learning community with fellow students, instructor guidance and feedback. There are six upcoming courses scheduled to begin in January and February. For more information, contact Shan Haugabrook, 404.420.2020. Click here for a list of all ABA offerings.

Essential Preparation for a New Era of Banking

ABA’s Banking Basics Suite of 12 courses is a comprehensive introduction to the banking industry. The suite is ideal for anyone who needs an introduction to banking, whether just starting a career or a more experienced professional from a different industry. Completing this suite provides a deeper understanding of the changing world of financial services and the vital role that banks play in the economy. See what the suite includes here. For more information, contact Shan Haugabrook, 404.420.2020.
Fill a Job, Find a Job with the GBA Job Bank
The GBA Job Bank is among the most popular and valuable benefits we provide to member banks and bankers. The Positions Available and Bankers Available sections on our website consistently are among the most visited pages. Best of all, the service costs nothing for member banks and bankers. If you have any questions, please contact GBA's Katina Prokos at 404.420.2021.
GBA Community Connections
We want to share all the good work GBA member banks, bankers, Associate Members and Bank Counsel Section members do to support their communities. Read all about the Community Connections our banks and members have below. Share your Community Connections by sending a brief paragraph and any photos of activities you have to us and we'll publish them at our earliest opportunity. Send information to Katina Prokos and David Oliver, or if your company would like to sponsor this content, let us know. Here's our latest installment...
Queensborough National Bank & Trust Co.
United Community Bank
Read All About It: Send Us Your News
We want to share your news with your colleagues around the state. Please forward your announcements about promotions, new employees and special recognition your bank has received along with any available photos to GBA's David Oliver and Katina Prokos.