April 16, 2021  

Advocacy in Action

Members Introduced to Sen. Raphael Warnock

We appreciate U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock for taking part in a virtual meeting with a group of about 50 GBA member bankers and the GBA Executive Committee this week. It was our first opportunity for a face-to-face conversation with him, so to speak. Sen. Warnock is a member of the Senate Banking Committee, where he chairs the subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection. He’s also on the Agriculture and Commerce committees, so he’s got an important role in considering legislation that affects members and customers. During the call, Sen. Warnock took a few minutes to introduce himself and his policy priorities, which he said are related to justice, equity and closing the wealth gap for American families. He also expressed that he’s interested in conversations with bankers about their issues and wants to work constructively and hear differing points of view. GBA Chairman-Elect Luke Flatt, AB&T, ABA Chairman Jim Edwards, United Bank, National Bankers Association Chairman Robert James of Carver State Bank, Pinnacle Bank’s Jenny Wofford and Citizens Trust Bank's Fred Daniels spoke on behalf of their banks and members in their areas of the state. Members on the call updated Sen. Warnock about banking conditions in their markets, success stories of delivering PPP loans, financial literacy efforts to increase banking access to underserved communities and a variety of other key advocacy priorities. With questions, contact Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027, or Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.


Warnock Flatt James Wofford


Back to top of E-Bulletin

Live from the Security Conference

Georgia Bank security professionals are meeting this week for their annual conference. Here are some photos from the conference, which concludes Friday. We’ll have more details and photos in next week’s issue.



Back to top of E-Bulletin

Welcome GBA’s Newest Associate Members

GBA Associate Membership is for individuals and organizations that serve banks and bankers. Today, approximately 200 Associate Members are taking advantage of business development opportunities and affordable access to the latest news and events in Georgia's banking industry, all for about $2 a day. These members also provide invaluable support to GBA’s activities and programs throughout the year through attendance, sponsorships, exhibits and shared expertise. Be sure to get to know them and thank them for their support of GBA. You can get information about any of GBA’s Associate Members by using the Associate Member search function on our website. Click any of the links below to learn more about each member, and please consider these banking industry supporters if you have a product or service need, they provide. For additional information, contact Bo Brannen, 404.420.2014




Argent Software

Mr. Joseph Shin


New York, NY




Mr. Robert Gilbert


Indianapolis, IN




Engaged Banker Experience, LLC

Mr. Lon Langston


Atlanta, GA




Habitat for Humanity of Georgia, Inc

Mr. B. Ryan Willoughby


Columbus, GA




MatchKey Consulting, LLC

Ms. Jennifer Hall


Johns Creek, GA



Regal Software Technologies

Mr. Kofi Conduah


Alpharetta, GA





Mr. J.D. Crouch


Minneapolis, MN




Wolf & Company, P.C.

Mr. Michael D. Cohn


Boston, MA



Back to top of E-Bulletin

Georgia PPP Loans Exceed 2020 Total

We’ve been tracking stats on PPP lending to Georgia businesses with interest, and it is notable that the number of loans made in this year’s round of funding have exceeded last year’s total. In this year’s round, 211,926 loans to Georgia borrowers have been made for first- and second-draw loans. That’s compared to 175,954 loans made in 2020.


Here are stats on the totals for the full program term dating back to April 2020:

  • 386,355 loans to Georgia small businesses

  • $22.1 billion loaned

  • Average loan size $57,258

  • 2.4 million Georgia jobs preserved.

Back to top of E-Bulletin

Court Rules ADA Provisions Not Applicable to Websites

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that websites are not places of public accommodation and therefore provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) do not apply to websites. In the case, a customer had sued the Winn-Dixie Grocery chain about the accessibility of its website. Georgia is covered by the 11th Circuit, so the decision will apply to websites of businesses here. The case is likely to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, as the 9th Circuit Court made an opposite ruling in a different case earlier. A number of Georgia banks have received demand letters from attorneys claiming their websites were not in compliance with ADA provisions. Those letters almost always refer to similar language in the Federal Fair Housing Act related to website accessibility to the visually impaired. FFHA was not part of the 11th Circuit case and we are unaware of  any pending litigation challenging FFHA. Read the ruling here. 


Back to top of E-Bulletin


The Breadth of Marketing, Making a Difference and Visiting all 50 States with Haley Barnes

Haley Barnes, marketing coordinator/banking officer for Commercial Banking Company in Valdosta, learned in her first job at a high-end jewelry store that putting the customer first is what will establish a loyal customer base. “Building a relationship with them goes a long way in providing a great experience with your business,” Barnes said. The Group 8 representative on GBA’s Marketing Committee was drawn to marketing when she realized it was more than simply advertising products and services. “It’s always evolving and encompasses many areas within it, such as digital marketing, social media, community outreach, advertising, graphic design, events and much more. No two days are ever the same, and I love a fast-paced environment,” she said. Barnes shares about her hopes and fears for the future of the banking industry, mentors who have shaped her professional life and the goal she and her husband set to see all 50 states in her GBA Member Profile.


Back to top of E-Bulletin

Federal Reserve Beige Book

Tourism, Retail, Auto Sales Increase; Modest Economic Expansion

Economic activity through March in the Southeast expanded modestly, the Federal Reserve reported in its Beige Book economic summary this week. The Sixth-District’s summary made specific note of improved travel and tourism industry conditions. Other highlights included improved labor market conditions, increased retail, auto sales and manufacturing. Financial institutions reported steady overall conditions, but lower loan demand. Read more here.


Back to top of E-Bulletin

ACH and Paper Draft Fraud Alert

We’ve heard from a couple of member banks about some ACH and paper draft fraud coming from companies called Kingdom Credit, Credit Works and Global One Services, LLC. Fraudulent paper and ACH drafts were made related to these companies in March and April. With questions or to share information, contact Jackie Page at First National Bank of Griffin, 678-510-5150.


Back to top of E-Bulletin

Chime in on Compensation Trends

Now’s your chance to participate in the 2021 Georgia Banking Compensation Survey. We encourage members to participate in building the most detailed data on banking compensation and pay practices in Georgia. This survey includes key benchmarking information that will help you assess the competitiveness of your salary and incentive plans. The survey provides compensation data for over 275 positions broken out by asset size and geographical region. Participating banks get a significant discount off the survey report. Participant pricing will be $595, and non-participant pricing will be $1,375. Past participants were emailed a packet April 1 from Pearl Meyer’s Rhonda Snyder, rhonda.snyder@pearlmeyer.com, If you do not receive the email containing your participant information, contact Snyder or GBA’s David Oliver.


Back to top of E-Bulletin

Employee Benefit Selections are Easy and Affordable with Holmes-Shaw

The partnership between GBA and the Holmes-Shaw Agency was forged in 1965 when the agency began offering employee benefit solutions to community banks throughout Georgia. Recently, Holmes-Shaw, as a member of and through PointeNorth Insurance Group, LLC, has expanded its product offerings to include Property & Casualty products to all GBA Member Banks. Some of these products include:


  • Personal & Corporate Life Insurance

  • Individual & Group Medical Insurance

  • Short Term Medical Insurance

  • Individual & Group Dental Insurance

  • Group Life & AD&D Insurance

  • Individual & Group Long Term Disability Income Protection

  • Group Short Term Disability Income Protection

  • Individual & Group Long Term Care Protection

  • Individual & Group Cancer Insurance

  • Vision Insurance

  • Retirement Planning

  • Health Savings Accounts

  • Health Reimbursement Accounts

Together, Holmes-Shaw through the GBA Insurance Trust offers benefits to approximately 150 Georgia banks and approximately 10,000 employee lives, helping the Georgia banking community protect one of its most important assets, its employees. With questions or to learn more about how Holmes-Shaw can help your company enhance its benefit program, please contact Bruce Shaw, 770.642.2150.


Back to top of E-Bulletin

In-person Conference

Ports Update on the Agenda for Rural Development and Lending Conference

Georgia ag products are major exports that fuel our state’s economy, so it will be good to hear an update on the Georgia Ports during out Rural Development and Lending Conference May 201-21 at the King and Prince, St. Simons. Stacy Watson, the Ports' director of economic and industrial development, will be with us. We’ll also cover all the key commodity products, get an overall ag economy update and learn about tech trends. Important: The hotel deadline is April 21. Register for the conference and make hotel reservations as early as people are snapping up capacity quickly at resorts all along the Georgia coast. Get all the details and register here.


Back to top of E-Bulletin



GBA Annual Meeting

Reminders - Island Access, Restaurant Reservations, and Optional Activities

Just a few reminders on the Annual Meeting, June 20-22, at The Cloister at Sea Island:

  • We continue to work our rooming waitlist. GBA will be notified of any cancellations in our block so we can assign those rooms to waitlisted registrants. We will contact you should you clear the waitlist.

  • As we announced last week, access to Sea Island has been restricted through Sept. 30 due to unprecedented demand at The Cloister and on the island. A few of you have emailed for clarification on this. Unfortunately, this means that if you book/have booked a room offsite, you will not have access to the island, and therefore to the meeting.

  • Because it will be peak season on Sea Island, make spa and restaurant reservations well in advance. To reserve, click here, then click BOOK in the top right-hand corner. Have your hotel reservation confirmation number handy;

  • We still have some good availability in our optional activities. Click here for details and to add an activity to your registration.

Questions?  Email GBA’s Kathy Friestad. Thank you to our sponsors:


Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


Back to top of E-Bulletin

GBA Partner Webinar: Modernize Your Mortgage Business with Better Technology, Scalable Operations & Increased Profit

Forward-looking community banks can build a stronger franchise by leveraging technology to streamline operations, boost innovation, improve the customer experience, and optimize their balance sheets. Join GBA partner Promontory MortgagePath LLC to learn how their best-in-class mortgage solutions can help banks increase profitability while introducing digital lending technology, improving overall efficiency and creating scalability in managing your mortgage operations. For questions, please contact Promontory MortgagePath’s Diane Capers, diane.capers@mortgagepath.com, 314.593.5015. Click here to register and view the pre-recorded webinar.


Back to top of E-Bulletin



Back to top of E-Bulletin

Managed Accounts in 401(k) Plans prove Beneficial for Near-Retirees

A recent article by Plan Sponsor Magazine discussed how managed accounts are beneficial for 401(k) participants, particularly those who are near retirement age. Experts say that managed accounts have been hurt in the past by high costs and participants’ failure to input data to better personalize their accounts. The cost of managed accounts are typically about 40 basis points higher than target date funds in most plans, but providers are starting to see participants who are invested in managed accounts now become more engaged. As participants are within 15 years of retirement, the investment allocation becomes more important and managed accounts take into account other factors besides age, such as social security income and outside assets added in the system by the participant. A research study done by Empower found that those engaged in a managed account can expect 16% more income in retirement than someone in a target date fund.


Through the partnership with GBA Retirement Services and Unified Trust Company, the “UnifiedPlan” Managed Account Solution is the qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) for our Trust participants who do not choose their own investments. In fact, over 90% of all participants in the GBA Retirement Services 401(k) Plan are invested in managed accounts. And further, there is no added cost to the participant if they choose to be in a managed account! Most plans charge a minimum of an additional 25 basis points for a managed account option.


Under the UnifiedPlan Managed Account Solution, each participant’s portfolio gets more conservative over time as they near retirement. Unlike a target date fund, the UnifiedPlan offers three different risk tolerances for every age group based on retirement readiness. In addition, a Wealth Preservation Strategy Fund is automatically added to a participant’s portfolio when they are within five years of their selected retirement age. The Wealth Preservation Strategy is an equity fund that protects the participant on the downside in the market, while maintaining most of the upside when the market is up. Unified Trust Company serves as the Discretionary Trustee of the GBA Master Trust, which is the highest level of fiduciary protection related to retirement plan investments.


If you would like GBA Retirement Services to assist with your next plan review, we can provide a detailed fee and investment comparison of our 401(k) services to your current plan. Please contact Mandy Richards at 404.420.2025 for more information.


Back to top of E-Bulletin



Save the Date: Sept. 26-28

Concurrent President/CEO, Bank Counsel and Accountant Conferences Set

GBA will host the annual concurrent President/CEO, Bank Counsel and Bank Accountant conferences Sept. 26-28 at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. These conferences provide a unique and beneficial opportunity for Georgia member bank presidents/CEOs, member bank accountants and bank counsel members (both in-house and outside) to gather, learn and share information. Bank Accountant and Bank Counsel Conference attendees may participate in any and all President/CEO Conference sessions in addition to their sessions, which are tailored to their specific concerns. The conferences will kick off with a welcome event on Sunday evening, Sept. 26 ,and conclude at noon Tuesday, Sept. 28, so make sure your calendar is protected. Registration and hotel information will be announced in May. A sincere thanks to our event sponsors: Carr, Riggs, Ingram, LLC, FHLB of Atlanta, FNBB, and ServisFirst Bank. Questions? Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad.


Back to top of E-Bulletin

New In-Person, Single-Day Programs
Popular ISO and New-Account Seminars Coming up

  • Information Security Officer Seminar – May 19

Speaker: Tom Hinkel of Safe Systems

Sponsored by Safe Systems
Learn more here.


Just added!

  • New-Account Documentation and Compliance Seminar – June 16
    Speaker: Suzie Jones of Training Resources Consulting           
    Learn more here.

Back to top of E-Bulletin

GBA Webinars: Director Training and Sales Skills

Can’t join live? Recordings are available for one week after each training.

Back to top of E-Bulletin

Join live or purchase a recording!

Spring into April with Webinars from National Experts

Do you have a BankWebinars.com webinar subscription package? Save 10-30% with a subscription package (details here). Use your credits on the webinars below or purchase webinars individually. View the full calendar here. Questions? Email events@gabankers.com

Back to top of E-Bulletin

ABA Online Training

GBA members may access these great programs at the member rates.

  • Certificate Programs (select member option) — More than 20 Certificates across six critical skills categories including Commercial Lending, Compliance, Retail Banking and more


  • Facilitated Online Courses (select member option) — Virtual learning with an instructor and peer interaction, weekly assignments and deadlines. Categories including Retail, Compliance, Executive Management and more


Back to top of E-Bulletin

Recruit, Retain and Develop the Best Bankers with GBA Career Solutions


GBA Job Bank - GBA will post open positions, free of charge, for GBA members. See the open positions in Georgia here. We will also post professional summaries for bank-job seekers on our Bankers Available page. To make the process easy and answer any questions, we've developed this Q & A. Please contact Katina Prokos, 404.420.2021.


GBA Strategic Partner BankTalentHQ - The central feature of BankTalentHQ is its national bank-job board. Other key benefits include: resume search access, regional and national reach for your open positions, frequent special offers and custom sales/coaching programs. Visit BankTalentHQ to learn more. See the open positions in Georgia here, or search regionally or nationally here.


GBA’s Career Paths for Bankers™ - GBA’s Career Paths for Bankers™ is the most unique, organized and easy-to-use career development resource available for bankers and banks. GBA’s pioneering career development resource is unlike any other in the banking industry. Click here to start mapping your banking career today.


Why do people choose careers in banking? Whatever their talents, interests and educational background, there is a career in banking for them. Here are few good reasons to share with folks you know.


Back to top of E-Bulletin



Atlanta - Cadence Bank

BancorpSouth Bank and Cadence Bancorporation, the parent company of Cadence Bank, N.A., jointly announced this week that they have entered into a merger agreement under which the companies will combine in an all-stock merger with a total market value of more than $6 billion. The bank will have dual headquarters in Tupelo, MS and Houston, TX, with operations centers in Tupelo, MS and Birmingham, AL as well as specialty sites in Macon, GA; Starkville, MS; and Houston, TX. Read more here.


Atlanta and Savannah - Wells Fargo/Citizens Trust Bank/Carver State Bank

This week, Wells Fargo announced equity investments in five banks, including Citizens Trust Bank in Atlanta and Carver State Bank in Savannah. The investments are a continuation of the bank's March 10, 2020, pledge to invest up to $50 million in Black-owned banks. Read more here.


Columbus - Synovus Bank

Marie Mikle has been promoted to Central Atlanta market executive, and Cory Jackson has been promoted to commercial banking manager.


Milledgeville - Exchange Bank

Our sympathies to the family and friends of Polly Morrison, who recently died. Polly was the wife of Otto Conn Morrison Sr. (deceased), who was president and CEO of the bank from 1979-1994; the mother-in-law of Henry Jackson Pope Jr. (deceased), who was president and CEO of the bank from 2004-2019; and grandmother of Vice President/Commercial Lender Jonathan Pope.


Monroe - Liberty First Bank

Chandnee Rasiawan has joined the bank’s operations team as its IT administrator. Reece Balon has joined the bank’s lending team as a lender trainee.


Richmond Hill - Great Oaks Bank

John Hodges has joined the bank as vice president and commercial relationship manager. Read more here.


Summerville - Southeast First National Bank

Suzanne Hurley-Bowman has been promoted to president.


Watkinsville - Oconee State Bank

The bank was recently presented with House Resolution 178 congratulating the bank team on 60 years of operation and service to the Oconee County Community. Georgia State Reps. Marcus Wiedower and Houston Gaines presented the resolution on behalf of the House of Representatives to bank President and CEO Neil Stevens and board members Virginia Wells McGeary and Albert Hale


Mikle Jackson Hodges Hurley-Bowman


Wells Fargo/Citizens Trust Bank/Carver State Bank Oconee State Bank


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 Katina Prokos.

Back to top of E-Bulletin