June 30, 2017         

Synovus Grabs Top Reputation Spot, Confidence in Banking Climbs

It’s nice to see a Georgia bank recognized as having the best overall reputation in the industry. Synovus took the top spot in this year’s American Banker/Reputation Institute survey. It wasn’t a big climb for Synovus, which had the second spot in last year’s report. The survey ranked 42 banks, and Synovus was first in reputation among non-customers and in the top 10 among its customers. The bank’s score of 80.7 is the highest score in the survey’s history. “We are proud to be named as the country’s most reputable bank, and I am deeply grateful to the entire Synovus team for making this recognition possible,” said Kessel Stelling, chairman and CEO of Synovus. “This year’s ranking demonstrates that who we are, what we stand for, and how we do business resonate strongly with customers and non-customers. It also validates the strength of Synovus’ service-focused culture as we transition to a single brand in 2018.” In related news, a Gallup poll out this week shows confidence in banks is climbing. Thirty-two percent of those surveyed said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in banks. That’s up 11 points from the record low in 2012, and ahead of “big business,” TV news, organized labor, newspapers and Congress. Read the survey results here...

Hearing on BSA/AML Raises Legitimate Questions

The U.S. House Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee held a hearing this week to examine the federal government’s anti-money laundering (AML) efforts under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The primary focus of the hearing was to understand compliance challenges facing financial institutions, including compliance trends, the effectiveness of current reporting requirements, and opportunities to improve and enhance the federal government’s ability to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA 11) serves on the committee and we appreciate his staff reaching out to GBA to learn more about the compliance challenges. The congressman focused on the need to raise the reporting threshold of Currency Transaction Reports. More about the BSA/AML hearing here...

More BSA/AML Help on the Way

One of the issues our Compliance Committee and Compliance Peer Group has been discussing is the new rules going into effect in 2018 dealing with identifying the beneficial owners of corporations and limited liability companies. Guidance has been coming from the regulatory agencies, but confusion abounds. A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the U.S. House requiring these companies to provide their ownership information to the state in which they’re incorporated. The legislation would give financial institutions access to that data, essentially helping them with due diligence and identifying corporate beneficial owners of business customers, as required by the anti-money-laundering regulations. More about the BSA/AML legislation here...

Related: Sept. 20-22, Macon

Registration Open for Fall Compliance Conference

If you are the compliance officer at your bank, or if you are involved in compliance in any way, you won’t want to miss the GBA 2017 Compliance Conference, Sept. 20-22 in Macon. Whether you are a compliance veteran or relatively new to the field, you will return to your bank with practical knowledge you can apply on a daily basis. This year’s conference, hosted by the GBA Compliance Committee, will be held Sept. 20-22 at Middle Georgia State University in Macon. Click here to see the preliminary agenda. Watch upcoming GBA E-Bulletins for features on conference speakers and sessions. Online registration is quick and easy, and it’s available – click here to reserve your spot. Attendees have the option to come to the full conference; Day 1 only, which will offer Compliance Risk/Deposit Management sessions; or Days 2 & 3, which will focus on Loan Compliance.

Appropriations Bill Targets CFPB

Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) chairs the U.S. House Appropriations financial services subcommittee, and his subcommittee is considering some major regulatory relief language in their section of the GOP’s 2018 appropriations bill. Several provisions in the bill came from the CHOICE Act passed by the House last month such as subjecting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the appropriations process and repealing the Volcker Rule, among others. Graves said he was "particularly excited about the financial reforms, which slash harmful regulations, streamline outdated agency processes, and rein in the rogue Consumer Financial Protection Bureau." Read more here…

Check Fraud Alert

Southwest Georgia Bank alerts members to be on the lookout for a check fraud scam. The bank this week received a fraudulent CitiBank Official Check for $99,950.00 that is part of the scam. The check was sent to local attorney and it has as its remitter a local business, Applied Machining & Welding, LLC. With questions or if you suspect a similar fraudulent item, contact Donna Lott, Southwest Georgia Bank, 229.873.3709, who can share more details with you.

GBA in the News

M&A in Georgia Making Headlines

Two Georgia-related bank deals this week sparked some media curiosity about the pace of mergers and acquisitions in the peach state. On Tuesday United Community Banks, Blairsville, announced it is acquiring Fair Oaks Fincorp in Raleigh, N.C., and Entegra Financial Corp. in Franklin, N.C., announced it is acquiring Chattahoochee Bank of Georgia, Gainesville. June’s total of bank deals involving Georgia institutions is four. While that’s a pretty big number in one month, the overall pace at this point in the year isn’t unusual from a historical perspective, GBA’s Joe Brannen explained to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as Georgia usually sees a dozen or more deals in a year. “We’re probably on target for this year,” he said. “They’re in areas of the state that are good growth markets.” The environment is different, somewhat, he said, because there has not been new bank startup activity that historically has accompanied merger and acquisition cycles. Read more here...

Georgia House and Senate Salute GBA’s 125th Year at Annual Meeting

Another highlight of last week’s Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs was the presentation of the Georgia House and Senate resolutions honoring GBA and recognizing the contributions of our state’s banks to the benefit of all Georgians. “Whereas, because of the inseparable link between the success of the banking industry in Georgia and the success of Georgia's communities, businesses, and families, it is fitting and proper to recognize the contributions of the Georgia Bankers Association and its member banks and bankers, says one clause of the resolutions. Our thanks to House Banks and Banking chairman Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) and Senate Financial Services Committee chairman Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) for being the lead sponsors of the resolutions in their respective chambers. Sen. Ligon was joined in Colorado last week by chairman of the Senate Majority Caucus, John Kennedy (R-Macon), and the vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, John Carson (R-Marietta) for the presentation of the resolutions to past GBA Chairman Rick Drews. Read HR 648 here and SR 455 here...
Sen. William Ligon speaks at the GBA Annual Meeting

125 Years of GBA

Cipher Code Book Shows Early Cybersecurity, 1904 Style

We’ve been looking through our archives lately as we’re celebrating 125 years of GBA service to bankers in Georgia. One of the early products the association provided to members is a neat cipher book to protect the confidentiality and security of telegraphs about transactions. The book includes code words for common financial terms and phrases. For example, the word “Palace” meant “We will loan you &__ as requested,” and “Sandbox” meant that a borrower’s “Character and habits good and business capacity well regarded.” There’s even a code word for every bank in the state, many of which were not so flattering as to further throw off prying eyes. The code word for Bank of Soperton was “Disservice,” and the code word for the state’s oldest current bank, the Geo. D. Warthen Bank, was “Disrobe.” GBA continues its tradition of offering helpful products and services to members such as our Compensation and Benefits Survey, Record Retention Guide, Holiday Closing Decals and more. Check out the full set here...

Three Cheers for Annual Meeting Sponsors and Exhibitors

GBA would like to send a huge thank you to each Exhibitor and Sponsor of last week’s 2017 Annual Meeting for their generous support of the program and our members. The time, effort and resources that every company and individual provides helps us continually make the event better. We hope you all will start making plans now to be at the 2018 Annual Meeting next June in Half Moon Bay, CA. Please take a look at the list of 2017 Annual Meeting Sponsors here and use the links to their websites to learn more about them. You can find a list of all our Exhibitors here. There are links to their sites and email if you haven’t had a chance to thank them for contributions. Please contact GBA’s Susie McGehee, 404.420.2010, for information about exhibiting or sponsoring at the 2018 GBA Annual Meeting.

Crime and Punishment

Bank Robber Gets 25 Years in Prison

A Marietta man has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for six armed robberies he committed between February and September 2016. Kevin Ray Williamson robbed banks in Marietta, Atlanta and John’s Creek during his spree, and used a gun in committing each robbery. “Williamson’s violent crime spree put citizens in our community on edge for months, especially bank employees just doing their jobs,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “Thankfully, an observant citizen brought his criminal conduct to an abrupt end.” A witness to Williamson’s last robbery saw him drive away in an Infinity coupe police were able to trace to him. Read more here...

Consumer Real Estate Lending for Small Banks – Aug. 24

7 Takeaways from Upcoming Consumer Lending Seminar

New TILA and RESPA rules have created so much confusion in the operations area and doubts over financial profitability that some small banks have decided to stop offering consumer real estate loans to their customers. GBA’s Consumer Real Estate Lending for Small Banks seminar with Steve Moore, Bank Compliance Services, will address the various financial and operational considerations of this kind of lending by small banks in the context of new rules. Moore will cover the following...

Minority Bankers Forum Coming up In Kansas City Sept. 27-28

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Richmond and St. Louis, will host the second-annual Banking and the Economy: A Forum for Minority Bankers in Kansas City. The forum is designed to provide senior level or middle management minority bank leaders with industry, leadership, and professional development knowledge that will enhance their careers and networks. Forum topics include...

Flood Zone Certs Available from Industry Leader

ServiceLink National Flood, LLC is one of the largest and most experienced flood certification vendors, with over 25 years of experience. The company’s focus is to provide customers with the highest automated hit rates, fast turn times, impeccable accuracy and exceptional customer service. By utilizing ServiceLink National Flood for all flood compliance needs, customers are assured of innovation, commitment to quality and dedication to the success of our clients and partners. As a GBA Strategic Partner, ServiceLink National Flood provides GBA members with outstanding service, and competitive pricing for flood zone certifications. Please give them an opportunity to win your business. Contact Ken Twichell, ServiceLink National Flood’s SVP of Business Development at 800.833.6347 x641.

Employee Benefit Selections are Easy and Affordable with Holmes-Shaw

Holmes-Shaw has built a full portfolio of complementary products and services around the GBA Insurance Trust's core benefit programs, allowing participants and their employees to expand their benefit selections affordably. Some of these products and services include...

Summer Online Classes

Online Summer School – Training on Your Schedule

ABA online classes feature an online learning community with fellow students, instructor guidance and feedback. These courses have weekly assignments as well as midterm and final exams. Any employee of a GBA member bank can participate. Your bank does not have to be an ABA member. All you need is a computer, printer and Internet access. Please register two weeks in advance to secure a "seat." For more information, contact Alison Moreau, 404.420.2034. Click here for a list of all ABA offerings...

Upcoming GBA-U Webinars

A GBA Webinar is a great way to quickly get the training you need without travel or time out of the bank. Webinars are live and allow time for questions and answers. The $265 registration price gives you access to one web site "seat," one telephone site license and all handout materials. If you can't attend the webinar, you may buy the audio CD, handout materials and a password to see the session online. With questions, please contact GBA's Katina Prokos at 404.420.2021. Here is a sample of upcoming offerings. Check the GBA-U Calendar of Events at www.gabankers.com for more details.

GBA Job Bank

New Positions in Credit Analysis, Collections, Audit and More

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. To make the process of posting a job or resume easier and to answer any questions you may have, we've developed this Q & A document as a resource. It outlines how to submit open positions and resumes, our deadlines and timelines for posting, and other helpful details. If you have any questions, please contact GBA’s Bo Brannen at 404.420.2014.
Pope Million Pines Community Bank,
a division of the Bank of Soperton

Read All About It: Send Us Your News

Please remember to include the Georgia Bankers Association on the list of recipients for announcements about promotions, new employees and special recognition your bank has received. We want to share your news with your colleagues across the state. Please forward your announcements and photos to GBA's David Oliver and Bogan Brannen.