March 3, 2017         

Bank Earnings Hit $3 Billion in 2016

Georgia’s 183 state-based FDIC insured banks earned $3 billion in 2016, an increase of 4.8 percent over the same period in 2015. “Georgia’s banking industry had a solid year in 2016 that tracked closely with the growing Georgia economy. Loans are growing, which means people and businesses in our communities are getting funding that goes back into the economy to support more growth. As deposits climb, it reflects increased savings and financial stability for Georgia families,” said Joe Brannen, president and CEO of the Georgia Bankers Association, in a news release to statewide media. Click here to see our release and more highlights for Georgia-based banks and nationwide trends from the FDIC’s announced performance results...

Customer Satisfaction, Trust in Banks Marches Upward

For the past five years, customer satisfaction for retail banks, mortgage and financial services companies has increased. A study from J.D. Power notes that since the financial crisis, customer satisfaction with financial institutions is at record highs. And, 82 percent of retail customers say the trust their bank to do the right thing. Customer loyalty, bank reputation and repeat usage metrics all continue to track higher, the report says. Major risk factors that could erode satisfaction and trust are high-pressure sales tactics, surprise fees, lack of clear communication at account opening identity theft and accounts and features being altered without the customer’s knowledge or permission. Read more here…

Push is on for Durbin Amendment Repeal

GBA and national industry groups are looking to keep up the drumbeat in support of repealing the Durbin Amendment that set debit-card interchange price caps. The focus is on keeping a provision to repeal the price caps in House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling’s (R-TX5) CHOICE Act under consideration by the U.S. House. Research shows that only 1 percent of retailers are passing on promised savings to consumers and 60 percent of consumers think the amendment should be repealed if retailers are not passing on the savings. ABA has a good resource here that includes that information and more facts for you as you talk about the issue with your representatives or those in your community.

GBA Member Profile

How Banking Chose Helms for Her Career

Wendi Helms says she’s never passed up a chance to learn or do something asked of her. That mindset has led to a fulfilling 20-year career she didn’t really expect. “I guess I should say that I didn’t choose banking as a career but it kind of chose me,” says Helms, who is vice president and compliance/fair lending officer for Bank of Monticello. “My career just sort of happened naturally. I could not imagine doing anything else. I love banking.” Find out more about Helms, who is a 2016 graduate of the Georgia Banking School, in this week’s GBA member profile. You’ll read about her career influences and her journey to continue building her banking skills through GBA programs like the Georgia Banking School. More about that below. Read Helms' profile here…

GBA Schools: A Winning Investment in Your Banker and Your Bank

Reward your top and promising bankers by enrolling them in Georgia Banking School or GBA Advanced Compliance School this spring. The schools are May 7-12 in Athens. Graduates consistently report that attending a GBA school is one of the highlights of their professional careers. Enrollment is open through April 14, but be sure to enroll your student by March 24 to secure hotel accommodations onsite. If you’d like to talk to someone about a GBA school, contact Kathy Friestad, 404.420.2024. Ready to see more details or enroll? Click here for Banking School info. Click here for Advanced Compliance School info.

CFPB Structure Case Appeal Moves Ahead

The closely watched court case about whether the CFPB’s leadership structure, headed by a single director who can’t be removed at will by the president, is constitutional will be heard by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court’s decision to hear the appeal in the PHH Mortgage v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau case also vacates an October 2016 court ruling that found the structure unconstitutional, meaning President Trump can’t remove current director Richard Cordray before his term ends in 2018. The D.C. Circuit Court will hear oral arguments May 24.

Hear Living Room Chat with the Banking Commissioner - March 23

Georgia Banking Commissioner Kevin Hagler and GBA president and CEO Joe Brannen will discuss the latest state and federal issues affecting the banking industry at GBA’s next South Georgia Community Bank Symposium March 23 at Valdosta State University. This annual event will also feature sessions on innovation in banking for better branches, SBA lending and an economic update. Click here to register

Sponsorship and Exhibit Space Opportunities Available at Annual Meeting

Strategic Partners and Associate Members, don’t miss the opportunity to for extra visibility with the top decision makers at Georgia's banks by sponsoring an event or exhibiting at the 2017 GBA Annual Meeting. GBA’s premier event is June 18-21 at The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO. Hurry to secure your spot. Because of limited space, this opportunity will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. To register for a booth, complete the exhibitor registration form and e-mail it to Susie McGehee. With questions about sponsorships, available exhibit space or the Annual Meeting in general, please contact Susie at 404.420.2010.

Watch What’s Happening With Rate Increases

For many of our members, with a continuingly improving economy and loan volumes rising, deposits are top of mind. It’s been interesting for us to read that the Fed’s rate increases have not yet adversely affected most bank’s net interest margins. We saw an article from our member SunTrust Robinson Humphrey that talks about paying close attention to how rate increases are or aren’t being passed along to depositors in your particular institution. There could be a time soon when competitive pressures affect those rates and the article’s author, Brett Lofton, concludes, “The lack of increases in cost of funds thus far could mean that when increases occur they could be more dramatic than expected.” That’s certainly something to consider in your risk management planning. Click here to read the article...

ADA Website Accessibility Tools from DOJ

A toolkit now available from the Department of Justice includes guidance about website accessibility. The resource includes a checklist that can be used to verify compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The resource is primarily geared toward state and local governments, but will be helpful to banks working to improve their website accessibility. Here’s a link to the toolkit from the DOJ...

Modest Economic Expansion Noted in Southeast

Steady retail sales, better than expected auto sales, improved tourism and better residential real estate building activity were among the economic highlights for the past couple of months among the Federal Reserve’s Sixth District contacts. The Fed’s latest Beige Book this week characterized economic activity since the first of the year as expanding modestly with a positive outlook during the next three to six months. In the banking sector, credit availability was good, but some small and medium-sized businesses noted problems getting credit. Read the full summary here…

Crime and Punishment

Lollipop Bandit Gets 15 Years in Prison; Columbus Robber Guilty

A wig-wearing, lollipop-eating bank robber will be serving 15 years in prison for robbing a Cobb County bank in 2015 and threatening to rob another nearby the same day. Ralfeal Anton White of Atlanta will also serve 10 years on probation after his prison term and was fined $1,000. “This is a defendant whose criminal endeavors have escalated from robbing a pizza delivery employee in 2005, to serving as the getaway driver in a bank robbery in 2013, to now being the sole perpetrator and counter jumper wherein he intimidated bank employees and frightened customers,” prosecutor Patricia Hull said. “This is an individual who simply takes from the community.” Click here for another story about the recent guilty please of a suspected robber in Columbus...

Compliance Seminars - March 28-30

Don’t miss back-to-back seminars on compliance basics with Steve Moore, Bank Compliance Services, March 28-30 at Middle Georgia State University in Macon. Whether you’re new to compliance or just need a refresher on essential regulations, one or both of these seminars will benefit you. See below for more information:

Bank Security Conference

A Hostage Situation: The Survivor’s Story

On Jan. 12, 2012, Carolyn Downs and her husband were survivors of a dangerous home invasion, robbery and kidnapping that spanned 20 hours. At this year’s Bank Security Conference April 6-7 at the Westin on Jekyll Island, Downs will share her story of the frightening ordeal. Bank security pros need to hear about her family’s experience because it is one they must be prepared to deal with on the job on any given day. Be sure to send someone from your bank’s security team to this year’s conference. Click here to see the complete agenda, hotel information, and online registration. The early bird registration fee of $350 is available through March 23. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions, 404.420.2024.

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 for more details.

Don't Wait Until it's Too Late!

Hotel Room Blocks are Open for these Big Events!

2017 Annual Meeting
June 18-21
The Broadmoor
Leadership Conference
July 17-20
Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

GBA Job Bank

New Postitions in Information Security, Loan Operations, Human Resources 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.

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. 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 Bo Brannen and David Oliver. Here's our latest installment...

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.