November 10, 2017   

Congress Working Hard on Tax Reform
Tax reform is never an easy process, especially when legislators have to find ways to pay for promised tax cuts. H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week and hearings are underway with the stated hope of getting a bill on the President’s desk this year. And the Senate Finance Committee is just now releasing their version. We’ve tried to stay focused on issues that directly affect our members or are significantly important to our industry. Preserving the business interest deduction and the elimination of the estate tax are two examples. Those provisions are in the bills with certain limitations along with significant rate cuts for businesses but with differing approaches. We were disappointed that both the House and Senate tax writing committees failed to include language equalizing tax treatment between banks and credit unions and the farm credit system. We’re pushing hard to get that loophole closed. We’ve heard from many members about various provisions in the bill that could adversely affect their institutions or their business model. Here’s a list that we’ve passed along to our members of Congress so far...

Elections Matter
Tuesday’s elections around the state were being watched closely to detect any trends that might affect the governing process and next year’s elections where all the seats in the General Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives will be in play. Special elections were held for several open seats in the General Assembly. Three seats formerly held by Republicans will be held by Democrats when the legislature convenes in January. More election details here....

Georgia Represented at Signing of Arbitration Ban Overturn Bill

It was good to see two people we work closely with at the President’s signing of the legislation overturning the CFPB restrictions on arbitration clauses. Georgia Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger), and ABA president Rob Nichols are shown with President Trump at the Oval Office signing ceremony last week. Graves chairs the Financial Services & General Government Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Congress passed the bill to preserve consumers’ right to gain access to the arbitration process to settle disputes. CFPB’s own study showed consumers are more likely to get actual monetary settlements with arbitration. The study showed more often than not, consumers get nothing from class action law suits.

Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga., left), ABA's Rob Nichols (right), Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho, second from left), Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika (third from left), Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C., sixth from right) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas, fifth from right). White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian.

Financial Risk Management Conference Held This Week
Chief financial officers, ALM managers, controllers, and other bankers involved in risk management in their financial institutions gathered this week at the annual GBA Financial Risk Management Conference in Atlanta. GBA’s Asset Liability Committee, led by Scott Wilson, Pinnacle Bank, Elberton, and Haynes Standard, First State Bank, Wrens, planned and hosted the conference. The conference kicked off with an information session from GBA’s David Oliver on the Georgia Secure Deposit Program, which could lower required collateral amounts that need to be pledged to protect public deposits for qualified banks. Sessions included an economic update, an analysis of trends for improving bank performance over the coming year, best practices on preparing the bank’s ALCO package, a look at the current map on the road to CECL, a strategic balance sheet management panel, and an M&A discussion. GBA would like to give a big shout-out to our conference sponsors: Carr, Riggs, Ingram, CPAs; CenterState Bank; Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta; Fifth Third Securities; First National Bankers Bank (FNBB); Raymond James, ServisFirst Bank; SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and Synovus.

Pope

GBA Member Profile
Pope Takes Comfort Knowing He is “At Home” in Banking

Ed Pope has been able to take a broad look at the way business is done over the years. After pursuing interests in three other industries, Pope says he is “home” in banking. “Extending credit with good deposit management…can push your community forward in ways you cannot imagine,” he recently told us. As President and CEO of F&M Bank in Washington, Pope also believes the team he surrounds himself with is critical to the bank’s success, as well as the network of contacts he has cultivated at events such as GBA’s President/CEO Roundtables and the recently concluded Financial Risk Management Conference. Learn more about Pope in this week’s GBA Member Profile…

GBA 125 Looking Back

1916 Convention Featured Big Education Commitment, Fed Talk and Baseball

We got a nice surprise this week at the Financial Risk Management Conference from Haynes Standard, First State Bank, Wrens, who brought us a copy of the 1916 GBA Annual Convention transcript he found at the bank. It’s interesting to browse through and recognize common themes stretching back 100 years. It was at the meeting that the association formally accepted a relationship with the American Institute of Banking as a Correspondent Chapter to provide ongoing banker education and training. The meeting also featured a talk by an official from the Federal Reserve Bank, which at the time was only a year and a half old. The legislative committee reported that the association supported several bills, including a state bonded warehouse bill, a bill providing for the extradition of criminals, a false statement law, and an appropriations bill. The appropriations bill was the only one that passed. The treasurer’s report showed 631 banks as members and expenses for the year were a little more than revenues. F.S. Etheridge of the Atlanta Trust Company, who was retiring president of the GBA and vice president of the association’s Trust Company Section at the time, gave an address that highlighted the ideals he ascribed to the profession. Click here to read it...

CSBS has Concerns about CFPB Small Business Data Collection Rule
The Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) has filed a comment letter stating its concerns that CFPB’s proposed small-business lending data rule could damage the relationship lending model that community banks use with small business. “The concern of state regulators: if banks responded to CFPB scrutiny by making loan decisions based on an ever-expanding checklist, then the relationship lending model community banks have long used would begin to wither. And some loans that are made today to small businesses would not be made in the future,” CSBS explained in its weekly newsletter. Their view echoes similar points GBA and member bankers made in our comment letter to CFPB back in September. The rule would allow CFPB to implement a Dodd-Frank Act requirement by collecting a significant amount of new data from lenders about small-business loans. The U.S. Treasury has expressed similar concerns and asked Congress to repeal the section of Dodd-Frank calling for the data. With questions or comments, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, or Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.

Appraiser Shortage Issue Gets Proposed Solution
The Appraisal Qualification Board (AQB) has issued a fourth draft of proposed changes to the criteria for qualification as a real property appraiser. The proposal aims to address the shortage of certified appraisers. Of note, the AQB proposed to remove college degree requirements for licensed residential appraisers and provide alternatives to the bachelor’s degree requirement for certified residential appraisals. The proposal also outlines an alternative track for licensed residential appraisers to become certified without obtaining a bachelor’s degree. In addition, it would reduce the number of field hours needed from 2,000 to 1,000 for licensed appraisers and 2,500 to 1,500 for certified appraisers. “There has been very little entry by new appraisers in the industry in the last few years, mostly due to the criteria to be a licensed appraiser creating a barrier to entry,” said Vicky Thompson, president and CEO of Valuation Management Group, a GBA Strategic Partner providing appraisal management services. “Real Estate Appraisers are a graying profession, and we must attract younger professionals. There definitely should be some changes made to the criteria for licensure and certification. More here...

Last Call! What Makes an e-Signature Legal Webinar - Nov. 16
Bankers in compliance, technology or vendor management roles as well as bankers who have a need for processing documents electronically won’t want to miss GBA’s What Makes an e-Signature Legal? webinar Nov. 16 at 2:30 p.m. Attorney Scott Sargent of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, PC in Birmingham, AL, and Brian Felker, Vice President of Sales, SIGNiX in Chattanooga, TN, will cover the questions that need to be asked before selecting the right e-signature vendor for your bank such as what makes it legal, the differences between electronic and digital signatures, and tips on the due diligence process when selecting a vendor. Registration is $150 for the live webinar. You may also purchase the webinar recording for $150 or both the live webinar and the recording for $200.

New! 
Leadership GBA BankPAC Sporting Clay Tournament Feb. 8

Mark your calendar and plan to sign up for Leadership GBA’s BankPAC Sporting Clay Tournament. This new fundraiser is Thursday, Feb. 8, at Old Hudson Plantation, Sparta. Put together a foursome or two of bankers, directors, community leaders or even customers to share a round of clays and talk about important banking issues. Registration is $150 per person, $500 per four-man team or $700 for a team and stand sponsorship (a $150 savings). Detailed information about the tournament and registration information will be available soon. With questions, please contact GBA’s Susie McGehee at 404.420.2010. See below for the latest on progress toward this year's campaign goals and other ways to contribute.

2017 BankPAC Campaign Update
Time to Push us over the Top

Contributing to the GBA FedPAC this week are eligible employees and directors from Century Bank of Georgia, Cartersville, Rick Drews, CEO and South State Bank, Augusta, Jay Forrester, President. The GBA FedPAC is now at 97 percent of its goal while the GBA StatePAC has reached 83 percent of its goal. Here are your fundraising guides and contribution forms for easy use when your bank makes a contribution to the StatePAC and eligible employees and directors make personal contributions to the FedPAC. Eligibility and suggested contributions are included on the contribution forms. Additionally, fair-share invoices were mailed last week to those CEOs of banks not yet contributing. Take a look at the overall campaign progress here. With questions, please call Elizabeth Chandler at 404.420.2027.

IRS Announces Cost of Living Adjustments for 2018

The IRS recently announced the Cost of Living Adjustments for 2018, including retirement plan limit updates. The maximum annual participant deferral limit for a 401(k) Plan has increased from $18,000 to $18,500. The catch up contribution limit for participants over age 50 remains at $6,000. Please click here to see other retirement plan limits for 2018. GBA Retirement Services, Inc., an affiliate of Georgia Bankers Association, is available to help you review your existing retirement plan. Benefits of the 401(k) plans offered through GBA Retirement Services include: competitive fees due to size of Master Trust, customized service from GBA staff, managed investment account solution for participants, flexibility and performance of investments, and added oversight by having Unified Trust Company as a Discretionary Trustee of each Plan in the Trust. Having a Discretionary Trustee in your plan helps to reduce the fiduciary liability your Plan Committee may currently be responsible for. Let us help you review your current plan and compare it to what GBA Retirement Services can do for you! Please contact Mandy Richards at 404.420.2025 with questions or for assistance in doing a periodic review and comparison of your retirement plan.

BSA: Are You Ready for Your Next Exam (and New CDD Rules) Seminar - Dec. 6
Four Takeaways You’ll Get at Upcoming BSA Seminar

To help BSA officers comply with BSA requirements and satisfy examiners, GBA is hosting a BSA: Are You Ready for Your Next Exam (and New CDD Rules) seminar Dec. 6 at The Brickyard Golf Club in Macon. During this full-day seminar, Steve Moore, Bank Compliance Services, will cover new beneficial ownership rules of which BSA officers, BSA auditors and risk managers should be aware. Attendees will leave the seminar knowing much more about the following:

  1. Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, including CTRs, SARs, etc.
  2. BSA exam procedures from the BSA officer's and BSA auditor's perspectives.
  3. How to document BSA + OFAC risk assessments, including CDD and EDD for "high risk" customers.
  4. NEW: Beneficial ownership rules.

Register by Nov. 28 for the early-bird price of $225 per person. Click here to register online. Please contact GBA's Katina Prokos at 404.420.2021 with questions.

Georgia Banking School Experience Reaps Benefits for Banker and The Bank
If you are working on budget and searching for the best professional development opportunities for your bankers in 2018, look no further than Georgia Banking School. This three-year intensive learning experience reaps tremendous short- and long-term benefits for the banker and the bank. You can’t make a more important educational investment in your team than Georgia Banking School! The 2018 session will be May 6-11 at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel in Athens. For more information, click here. Enroll your student now to pay for it in this year’s budget, or enroll now and defer paying tuition in 2018. Save $130 on tuition through Feb. 9. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad, 404.420.2024 with questions.

Lindsey Piegza to Give Economic Update at Legislative/Economic Forum Jan.10
Join Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza, Stifel Financial Corp., Chicago, IL, as she provides an update of the national and state economic environment during GBA’s Legislative and Economic update Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 10, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. GBA’s annual Legislative Reception honoring the members of the General Assembly, the Constitutional Officers, the statewide Judiciary and other dignitaries will be later that evening. A block of hotel rooms has been reserved at Marriott for the night of January 10. The negotiated rate is $279 per night for a single or double room. Reserve your room by calling the hotel directly at 404.521.0000. Be sure to tell them you are with the Georgia Bankers Association. Rooms will be held until Dec. 18, 2017. To register, click here. With questions, please call GBA’s Susie McGehee at 404.420.2010.

Online Classes
Online School - Training on Your Schedule

Below are the facilitated ABA online classes coming up in December. Facilitated online courses 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 company can participate at the member rate. 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-U 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 website "seat," one telephone site license and all handout materials. If you can't attend the webinar, you may buy the CD of the recording, handout materials and/or 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...

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. 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.

First Landmark Bank

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 Bo Brannen and David Oliver, or if your company would like to sponsor this content, let us know. Here's our latest installment...

Garland

Warren

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