April 2, 2021  

General Assembly Adjourns Sine Die

Around midnight March 31, Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan declared adjournment motions passed, bringing to a close the 156th Georgia General Assembly Session. We always keep our focus narrowed to issues directly affecting banking. We were able to work with legislators to help successfully pass the Department of Banking and Finance’s housekeeping legislation. This was our priority bill this session as our Bank Counsel Section provided significant input into its content. In total, we worked on 65 bills and resolutions. This was the first year of a biennial cycle, so bills that did not pass, like remote online notary authorization, will carry over to next year's session. "Our lobbying team put in another extraordinary effort in fighting for our industry during this session. All the social distancing and pandemic protection measures once again made it challenging, but the team was creative, persistent and present in every way possible to take the lead for the industry on bills of importance. Elizabeth Chandler, with support from Steve Bridges and Joe Brannen, led the way, and the team’s experience, integrity and professionalism were on full display," said GBA Chairman Spence Mullis, president and CEO, Morris Bank, Dublin. Be looking for the wrap up edition of the Legislative Update for all the details. With questions, contact Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.


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Heritage Southeast Bank will be Sixth Georgia Bank Acquired by a Credit Union

Big news broke late Wednesday that Jonesboro-based Heritage Southeast Bancorporation and its bank subsidiary, Heritage Southeast Bank, have signed a definitive purchase and assumption agreement to be acquired by VyStar Credit Union (“VyStar”) in an all-cash transaction. Many of the bank’s leaders and team members have long been active with GBA. Brad Serff, CEO of the bank’s Providence Bank division in Alpharetta, serves on GBA’s Board of Directors and CEO Leonard Moreland is an active member of his President/CEO Roundtable. Several of their bank colleagues serve on GBA committees. In a media interview, Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO said, “Having the largest bank acquisition by a credit union in the nation is certainly big news. We have no quarrel with bank boards of directors exercising their fiduciary duties to their shareholders as they decide what’s best for them, their bank, their employees and the communities they serve When this transaction closes, it will be the sixth bank in Georgia acquired by a credit union. That raises much larger issues that must be dealt with by policy makers to level the playing field between taxpaying banks and tax exempt credit unions. Beyond the tax advantage that’s subsidized by all taxpayers, a vibrant banking system must be an equitable system for all those who hold themselves out as bankers. Credit union exemptions from regulations like CRA and differences in rules like brokered deposits, appraisal standards and capital must all the addressed.” Read all the details of the transaction here.


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PPP Application Extended through May 31, Other Updates

The Paycheck Protection Program has been extended through May 31 for lenders to submit applications and to June 30 for SBA to finish processing those applications. No new funds were allocated to the program in the legislation President Biden signed this week. About three-fourths of member banks responding to a survey we conducted this week said they plan to accept new loans during the extension period, but most were still undecided about the date they’d stop accepting applications. May 15 was the most frequently cited specific date. In the current round of funding to Georgia businesses, loans have been approved to 145,533 borrowers for $6,113,117,54. The average loan size in Georgia is $42,004, compared to the national average of $59,084. In our breaking-news emails to CEOs and committee members this week, we also provided updates about hold codes and compliance check errors and EIDL lien releases.


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GBA Member Profile

Customer Service Built on Kindness, Finding Your Calling and the Six Degrees of Mickey Mantle

Cristi Donahue, EVP, chief retail officer for Oconee State Bank in Watkinsville, learned in her very first job as a grocery store cashier that leading with kindness will never fail when it comes to customer service. “You just never know what’s happening in someone else’s life,” she said. Donahue brought her service skills to the financial services industry when she started working at a bank while in college. “I decided to stick with it until I found my calling. Little did I know, banking was my calling,” Donahue said. The Vice Chair of GBA’s Women in Banking Committee and At Large member of GBA’s Security Committee shares her outlook for the future of the industry, the many valuable life lessons her father taught her and a surprising connection to legendary baseball player Mickey Mantle in the latest GBA Member Profile.


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Economic Impact Payments Incoming

The next batch of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) direct deposits is scheduled for April 7. Members will want to be alert for this to prepare operationally and to help customers who may have questions. These payments will be for Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) beneficiaries who did not file a 2019 or 2020 tax return or did not use the IRS Non-Filers tool to receive earlier EIPs. The IRS will be updating its website over the weekend to help recipients track payments. You may direct customers to the Get My Payment tool that should have the details by Monday.


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CFPB Ends Seven Temporary Pandemic Concessions

The CFPB Wednesday rescinded a number of policy statements that provided temporary pandemic-related flexibility in important consumer protection regulations. The rescissions took effect April 1. Affected areas include flexibility in evaluating branch staffing and resource challenges on supervision, HMDA reporting, TILA, Reg. Z, Reg. E, FCRA, Reg. Z, Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, Reg. V, errors in billing, E-Sign Act and Reg. Z. Get all the details here.


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Advocacy Update

CUSO Proposal Comment Period Extended

Members now have until April 30 to speak up against the proposal by the National Credit Union Administration to expand the range of permissible lending activity for credit union service organizations. The proposed rule would allow CUSOs to originate any type of loan a federal credit union may originate, including auto and payday loans. Members can weigh in here. The Secure American Opportunity advocacy tool includes a sample comment letter you can easily personalize and send to the NCUA.


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Security Conference – April 14-16, St. Simons

Spotlight Session – Robbery: Prepare to Survive

A fast-paced, interactive session about robbery trends and best practices for prevention and response is on the agenda for the upcoming GBA Security Conference. For over 20 years, our session leader, Carol Dodgen has researched cases of violence and has had the opportunity to interview numerous individuals who have been involved in these cases, so she knows the scoop. Don’t miss this in-person event that starts Wednesday, April 14, with the Roles and Responsibilities overview, followed by a reception. Other sessions will cover business e-mail compromise, sex-trafficking awareness and prevention, peer networking and more. Get all the details and register here.


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In-person Conference

Ag Commissioner Gary Black Headlines Rural Development and Lending Conference

Registration is open and there’s a growing attendee list for this year’s Rural Development and Lending Conference May 20-21 at the King and Prince, St. Simons. Georgia Ag Commissioner Gary Black will put a bow on the conference with his closing session. Participants will also hear about state and federal resources to help fund small ag businesses, an ag economy outlook, a commodity outlook, a crop insurance update, ag tech and precision ag trends, regulatory updates and spend some quality time networking. 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.


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Enter to Win Expert Design Consultation or Work Stations

Let GBA Partner Office Depot Help with Your Bank’s Workspace Transformation

Did you know Office Depot is also a full-service office furniture dealership? With one of the most extensive selections in the industry and average negotiated discounts of 25-35 percent off the manufacturer’s list price, GBA’s endorsed purchasing program gives you better buying power, scalable services, flexible offerings and a wide range of options to fit your budget. Do you have a workspace remodel planned this year? Are you opening a new location? Complete this short inquiry form about your next project and get entered to win one of the following prizes:

  • Free design and product selection for your new project or redesign of an existing space PLUS additional discounts off your furniture order

  • Free office set up (L-shape desk, task chair and guest chair)

  • Free work from home set up (sit/stand table desk and task chair).

To be entered into the drawing please submit your information before April 30, 2021. Here is more information about their Workspace Interiors services. If you have any questions or would like to connect with a specialist, please contact GBA’s Office Depot rep Issaac Mares, isaac.mares@officedepot.com, 855.337.6811 x12878.


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Banks Get High Marks for Consumer Compliance

The FDIC’s latest Supervisory Highlights publication includes an analysis that 99% of FDIC supervised banks examined in 2020 were rated satisfactory or better for consumer and CRA compliance. The agency also applauded banks for their outreach activities. “In addition to serving customers, we observed supervised institutions supporting employees by offering paid time to assist with local community efforts and to provide financial education to the public,” the FDIC said. Read more here.


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What are Micro Internships? Learn how they can help your bank from BankTalentHQ 

As we bounce back from the effects of the global pandemic, your bank must remain keenly aware of the importance of accessing to best hires for the ongoing success of your bank. To support you and the college students around your local markets, GBA partner BankTalentHQ has announced an initiative with Parker Dewey, an organization that specializes in coordinating the innovative concept of Micro-Internships.


Wait. What is a Micro-Internship? Micro-Internships are short-term, professional projects that typically require between 10-40 hours of work by the college student or recent grad. You get on-demand support, but this also allows you to see if someone is a good fit for a permanent role in your bank.


Click here to find out more on April 13 at 1 p.m. Can't make it? Register to receive a recording of the conversation!


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Human Resources Tool

Compensation Survey Open for Data Submission

Data collection for our 2021 Georgia Banking Compensation Survey has opened. We encourage members to participate in building the most detailed report 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. The report also presents key policies and practices metrics covering salary administration, short-term and long-term incentive plan design, average turnover rates, mortgage originator compensation and plan design, and commercial loan officer compensation and plan design. 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


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New Programs

Two Ways to Energize Your Leadership Development Efforts

Check out our new offering for early-career bankers, new or developing managers, teams and even more experienced leaders looking for an affordable way to build leadership and personal management skills. GBA has collaborated with author and leadership expert Kevin Scott of ADDO Worldwide to bring you two unique online courses based on his popular books. 

  • The Lens – A 10-part course that helps leaders develop different ways of looking at things. Leaders often make changes to organizational structure, strategies, and personnel without addressing the one thing that can radically transform their lives and their leadership: perspective. They often overlook this pivotal principle that will unlock and unleash their potential. View previews of the Lens here. Order the course here.


  • 8 Essential Exchanges – A nine-part course that identifies eight clear exchanges that often confront us, and provides insight on how making the right exchange can have profound impact. Every choice is a value statement. The most important exchanges are between really good things and even better things. Those are much harder, but they shape our lives in disproportionate ways. View previews of the Exchanges course here. Order the course here.

Each course includes a book, a workbook for a facilitator or self-study and access to a series short online session videos. Each course is $325 per person for up to 10 participants. Orders of more than 10 are discounted at $275 per person. With questions, contact David Oliver.


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Service Excellence Expert Jamey Lutz to Close Leadership Conference


Do your employees approach each day with a “want to” or “have to” mindset? What might be possible if they embraced their jobs as a noble calling – and found the workplace irresistible, and therefore, "unleavable?" Service excellence expert Jamey Lutz, author of the newly-released book, Pathway to Purpose, will be the closing speaker at the GBA 2021 Leadership Conference, July 12-14 at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra, Florida. Now Managing Director of Service Excellence for ChenMed, Lutz was previously senior vice president for performance excellence at Atlantic Capital Bank in Atlanta, where he oversaw the bank’s in-house leadership development and talent management programs, as well as managed its culture-transformation strategies. Click here to see the full agenda and to register. We’re expecting a big crowd, so book your hotel now. Sponsorship and exhibit opportunities are available and can be reserved online. A huge thank-you to these associate members who are supporting the event through sponsorship: CSRA Business Lending, FHLB of Atlanta, Holmes Shaw Agency, Mauldin & Jenkins, Point to Point Environmental, Troutman Pepper and Wipfli. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


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

  • Loan Documentation Seminar – April 14

Speaker: Mike Allen of Cadence Bank 

Learn more here.


  • 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.

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GBA Webinars: Director Training and Sales Skills

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

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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

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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.


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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:


Birmingham, AL - Regions Bank

The Regions Foundation, a nonprofit initiative of the bank that supports community investments, announced a series of grants totaling $100,000 for organizations coordinating disaster relief in portions of Alabama and Georgia that were impacted by tornadoes on March 25 and 26. Read more here.

Milledgeville - Exchange Bank

The bank announced that Stella Glover is the 2021 Exchange Bank Scholarship recipient for the Baldwin County area. Each year, the bank selects three winners for this award, one from each of the communities it serves (Milledgeville, Gray and Lake Oconee). Read more here.


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Albany - AB&T

Maggie Lewis has been promoted to mortgage originator. Read more here.


Atlanta - First Horizon Bank

Miguel Alandete has been promoted to senior vice president-SBA lending sales manager. Read more here.


Dublin and Milledgeville - Morris Bank

Morris Mortgage Services, located in Milledgeville, opened for business on March 15.


Fitzgerald - Colony Bank

The bank has expanded its Treasury Management division with the addition of three new team members: Treasury Management Officer Thomas Ware and Treasury Implementation Specialists Katharine Ladson and Tim Richardson. Read more here.


Milledgeville - Exchange Bank

Jeremy Cook has been promoted to security officer, information technology specialist, and deposit compliance specialist. Read more here.


Statesboro - Bulloch First

Gay Dailey has been named chief credit officer. Sydney Riner has joined the bank as a community banking associate.


Atlanta - Crowe LLP

Firm Partner Mike Thomas retired March 31 after 43 years in the banking industry. You can send him a note here.


Atlanta - Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta

The company has announced the retirement of W. Wesley McMullan as president and CEO, effective May 27. Kirk Malmberg has been appointed as president and CEO. Details here.



Lewis Alandete Ware Ladson Richardson





Riner Thomas



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.

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