Aug. 6, 2021  

Bank Counsel Section Board Meets

The top legal minds serving Georgia’s banking community gathered this week to share information on legal trends and plan their upcoming conference. Board Chair John Willis of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, led the session. Our guest at the meeting was Bo Fears, deputy commissioner of Consumer and Legal Affairs at the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. Fears presented draft copies of several bank-related updates that may be included in the department’s annual housekeeping bill during the Georgia General Assembly session in 2022. He asked for any feedback, and noted that Sept. 1 is the likely deadline for the department to provide a draft to the Governor’s office for consideration. One of the sections in the legislation includes language similar to a New York law enacted this year to help button up contracts that reference LIBOR, which is set to go away in 2023. Reggie O’Shields, FHLB Atlanta, provided an update on LIBOR-related contract language legislation at the national level. It’s been heard in the U.S. House of Representatives, but not in the Senate. The general feeling is to move forward with state-level efforts as it’s hard to predict whether a national-level law will be passed and signed. Committee Vice Chair Melinda Davis Lux of United Community Bank facilitated a roundtable discussion of other issues. Topics covered from a legal perspective included ransomware and cybersecurity, E-sign, overdraft litigation, cannabis banking, subordinated debt issuances and more. The GBA Bank Counsel Conference is Sept. 26-28 at the Ritz Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. The agenda will include specific sessions for bank lawyers and will be announced soon. Get details and register here.


Lux (center) facilitates a
roundtable discussion.

O'Shields (center) gives his LIBOR
legislation update.

Fears (center) was the guest
speaker at the meeting.


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Survey Results

Latest on COVID-19 Protective Measures, PPP Forgiveness

Member bankers have been evaluating and adjusting their health and safety protocols in the past couple of weeks as COVID-19 cases have spiked. We put a survey in the field recently to gauge what banks are doing. The current prevailing trends are that most respondents continue the safety measures put in place last year, some are reinstituting masks for employees and customers, lobbies are mostly remaining open, and most are leaving vaccination choices to the individual. On the PPP front, a little more than 20% are opting in to the SBA direct forgiveness program. Banks reported that most first-draw PPP loans have been forgiven, with second-draw forgiveness coming along, but ranging widely from 25-100% of loans being forgiven at this point. Here’s a link to the results.


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GBA Member Profile

How Her Job in Banking Helped Tabitha White Beat the Odds

At age 31, Tabitha White, now compliance officer for First State Bank of Blakely, was getting accustomed to her role as a banker and raising her two young sons with her husband when she got the devastating news that she had stage-four Metastatic Melanoma. “I had no idea how I was going to work, handle chemo treatments and be an involved mother for my two boys. For a moment, I thought that might be the end of my career in banking,” White said. Her bank president at the time, Butch Wiggins, surprised her by going above and beyond to accommodate her working schedule with her doctor appointments and chemo treatments, which not only kept her career going in banking, but also motivated her to beat the illness. “Between having children, a husband who needed me and a boss who didn’t want to lose me as an employee, it gave me something to fight for,” she said. White credits Wiggins for shaping her into the professional she is today. “He believed in me and understood mistakes would be made, but he tried to use each one as a learning experience. He always took the time to answer ‘why,’” she said. The Group 2 representative on the GBA Compliance Committee shares about her first job, her journey to becoming a banker and more in this week’s GBA Member Profile.




Why Attend GBA’s Compliance Conference?

“The GBA Compliance Conference is a joint effort of compliance pros to help and encourage each other’s success,” says Compliance Committee Chair Christopher Marks, CRCM, American Pride Bank. “Like the world of bank compliance, the conference is always evolving to give compliance pros the tools they need to do their jobs well.” Join Marks, his fellow Compliance Committee members and bank compliance professionals from around the state at the conference Oct. 20-22 at the King & Prince, St. Simons. Get all the details and register here.


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Paralympian with GBA Connection Set to Compete

Quick on the heels of the Tokyo Olympics will be the Paralympics from Aug. 24-Sept. 5. Let’s all cheer for Mei Mei White, who swims with the Athens Bulldog Swim Club. Mei Mei is the daughter of Kelley and Michael White. Michael is with GBA Associate Member law firm James-Bates-Brannan-Groover. Mei Mei is currently scheduled to compete in the 400m Freestyle, 200m IM, and 100 Breast. Here’s a link to her bio on the Team USA site and here’s a link to the swim schedule.


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CEO / Leader Updates

SBA Refinancing Update, Consumer Fraud Details

Our series of ongoing time-sensitive emails to member CEOs, committee members and other key contacts continued this week. Email alert topics included details and resources about the following:

  • SBA 504 Refinancing. We shared updates and insights into the debt refinancing options for SBA 504 loans, and in particular, the opportunity to refinance SBA 7(a) loans into 504 loans with lower rates. Here’s a helpful resource from Randy Griffin of CSRA Business Lending, a GBA Associate Member.


  • Consumer Fraud Hearing. We previewed the the U.S. Senate Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection Subcommittee held earlier in the week about protecting consumers from financial fraud. There was a Georgia angle to the hearings, as they featured Liz Coyle, Executive Director of Georgia Watch. Her testimony focused consumer fraud generated through online platforms like Facebook and FinTech bad actors mostly involving home improvement scams. She also recognized the work of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and the CFPB for bringing actions against the alleged wrongdoers. Access a recording and written testimony here.

If you’d like more information about any of those topics, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.


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How to Help Customers Avoid Getting Phished

All GBA member banks may participate in the award-winning Banks Never Ask That anti-phishing campaign. This year's campaign kicks off Oct. 1 as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. will be refreshed to include a new interactive quiz for consumers. In late August, participating banks will have access to an updated toolkit full of ready-to-use graphics, social posts, digital signage, printables and more. Register here. ABA membership is not required.


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2021 BankPAC Campaign Off to a Strong Start

The 2021 BankPAC Campaign has been underway now for a good month and the response is solid. Members of the BankPAC Board of Directors are making calls to their fellow bank CEOs, so please give your group representative a few minutes of your time to discuss this important endeavor. Each CEO has received a packet of information outlining the campaign, and you may also go to the BankPAC page on GBA’s website for all of the information you will need, including this year’s brochure and contribution forms for both the GBA FedPAC and GBA StatePAC. You will see who may contribute to which fund as well as suggested amounts. We will begin highlighting contributors in the next few weeks. With questions, call GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler at 404.372.7893.



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Five spots added!

Less than Three Weeks Away - The BSA Experience

We’re less than three weeks away from The BSA Experience. We’ve added five additional spots to accommodate everyone, so hurry and grab your spot! The cut-off date for booking your hotel room has passed but the hotel is still honoring our special rate. Click here to learn more and register.


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The Omni Hotel at the
Battery Atlanta

Registration now open!

Financial Risk Management Conference - Nov. 4-5 in Atlanta

GBA’s Financial Risk Management Conference is scheduled for Nov. 4-5, 2021, at the Omni Hotel at the Battery Atlanta. The committee has almost finalized the agenda. Sessions will include:

  • Capital Planning for 2022 and Beyond

  • Liquidity/Investment Panel

  • Accounting & Tax Update

  • Commercial Loan Pricing and How CFOs can add Value to the Lending Function

  • Implementing an Effective Credit Review Process for Municipal Credits

  • ALM Panel

  • Economic Update.

Registration is $425 for an attendee or exhibitor representative; $600 for an exhibitor booth; and various levels of sponsorship. Associate members are eligible to sponsor, exhibit or both sponsor and exhibit. Get all the details and register here. With questions, contact GBA’s Alison Moreau.


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What Can Banks Learn from the Cola Wars of the 1980s?

By Neal Stevens, GBA Partner Bank Marketing Center

All the talk these days seems to be about digital transformation and offering a personalized digital banking experience. Or, on the in-branch side, the need to offer the kind of personalized, financial guidance that people simply won’t find with non-traditional institutions, such as digital-only banks. It seems to be all about services; that the only way to win and keep customers is by offering them products and services that are better than the competitors. Which, as a former ad guy, leads me to ask this question: What happened to branding? Click here to find out how banks can look back to the famous Coke vs. Pepsi Wars of the 1980’s for brand inspiration. Contact Neal at 678.528.6688, or, to learn more about the GBA-endorsed, web-based marketing portal.


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Survey Says: Branch vs. Digital Banking in Georgia

The benefit and long-term viability of branches is an ongoing debate for many financial institutions. Much is made of whether to focus resources on digital or in-person offerings, but the ultimate judge is the customer. So, what is right for the Georgia market? Foresight Research surveyed 400 banking consumers to measure the banking habits of consumers in Georgia, and the results may surprise you. Click here to read their detailed findings, which overall indicate that branches still matter to consumers but may need to be re-imagined. The marketing research firm annually surveys about 15,000 banking consumers in 60 markets, and they have provided research to Fortune 500 companies for more than 20 years. Contact CEO Steve Bruyn, 248.608.1970 ext. 12, to learn more.


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Chateau Elan

Last Call!  Women in Banking Conference is Next Week

We have a few seats left for the GBA Women in Banking Conference, coming up next Thursday and Friday, Aug. 12-13 at Chateau Elan Winery & Resort in Braselton. Women bankers from all arenas of banking, plus GBA associate members, are invited to come. Click here for a detailed agenda, hotel information, and to register. While the GBA room block is now closed, reservations may be made directly through the hotel. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn, network, and share with women colleagues at this year’s conference. And don’t forget, we’re closing out the conference with a heavy dose of laughter with comedienne, author and singer Heather Land. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


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President/CEO, Bank Counsel, and Bank Counsel Conferences – Slate Highlights

GBA’s President/CEO, Bank Accountant and Bank Counsel Conferences will be Sept. 26-28 at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. This year’s agenda will feature an economic outlook from Lindsey Piegza, chief economist from Stifel, and a discussion of how to “reimagine” your ALCO from Darling Consulting Group President Matt Pieniazek. Also, Gretchen Corbin, president of the Georgia Lottery (and a banker’s daughter) will discuss the impact of the lottery on our state and how bank leaders can leverage that success for economic growth and keeping local talent in their communities. And that’s just the first day. In next week’s article, we’ll share more highlights of the 2021 tri-conferences, including a look at the Bank Accountants and Bank Counsel Conference agendas. Click here for conference details. Conference registration is required in order to reserve a hotel room. Due to the popularity of the conference and high demand at the hotel, we recommend you register and reserve your room without delay. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.






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In-Person, Single-Day Programs

New Account Documentation, Loan Documentation and Business Cash Flow Analysis Coming up


Speaker: Mike Allen, Cadence Bank


Speaker: Mike Allen, Cadence Bank

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Compliance Alliance Question of the Week 

Question: We provide lines of credit to home builders using a ‘master note’ and then use sub-notes for each specific construction loan. Our question stems from the appraisal notice that is required to be given within 3 days of application. Is the bank required to provide an appraisal notice for each subsequent note – or would one be sufficient when the master note is signed by the customer? Click here for the answer. Visit for more helpful Q&A resources.


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IRA Training, Banking Basics, Performance Analysis, Ag and Mortgage Lending

All GBA members get the member rate for ABA's facilitated online courses that provide an opportunity to meet your learning goals with the benefit of an online learning community with fellow students, instructor guidance and feedback:

  • Peer interaction in the learning community with the instructor and other students keeps you actively engaged and motivated

  • Experienced industry professionals provide frequent feedback and context to your learning

  • Convenient weekly schedule with no required meeting times means you decide when to work on course assignments

Here are the upcoming September offerings:

With questions, please reach out to GBAs Alison Moreau.


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Join live or purchase a recording!

August Webinars: Advertising Compliance, Credit and more!

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

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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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Atlanta - Fifth Third Bank

Bradley Sands has joined the bank as a commercial relationship manager.


Alma - Pineland Bank

John Minor is now the market executive for St. Marys and Kingsland.


Cordele - Planters First Bank

Chief Marketing/Chief Deposit Officer Dan Duchnowski recently wrote an article for The Financial Brand publication entitled, Marketing Smarter on a Community Bank Budget. Read the article here. Duchnowski is an At Large member of the GBA Marketing Committee.


Claxton - The Tippins Bank

Bank Vice President Sharon Haire is celebrating 47 years in banking this month. She plans to retire from full-time banking at the end of this year.


Fitzgerald - Colony Bank

Jason Morris has been named senior vice president and Ashburn market president. Read more here. Colony Bankcorp, Inc. this week announced that it has completed the acquisition of SouthCrest Financial Group, Inc., the holding company for SouthCrest Bank, N.A. Read more here.


Forsyth - Persons Banking Company

Daryl Cohen has joined the bank as the market leader in its Forsyth office.


Rome - River City Bank

The bank hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening celebration on Aug. 3 at its new mortgage and loan office in Union County. The new location is just off the square in downtown Blairsville at 215 Blue Ridge Street, Suite A. Read more here.


Suwanee - Quantum National Bank

Alex Roach has joined the bank as assistant vice president and commercial lender. Read more here.


Watkinsville - Oconee State Bank

The bank has announced an expansion to its financial services team, including new team members Tim Rine, Terry Swaim, Cory Robinson, Amanda Nelson and Wendy Howard. Read more here.


Austin, TX - Abrigo

GBA Strategic Partner Abrigo recently announced it has secured a strategic growth investment from funds managed by Carlyle. Read more here.


Pensacola and Tampa, FL - Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund

The business advisory firm has been ranked among the Top 200 accounting firms by INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) for the fourth time. Read more here.


Atlanta - Georgia House of Representatives

Congratulations to State Rep. Leesa Hagan (R-Lyons), who was recently sworn into office as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Rep. Hagan was recently elected in a special election and will serve for the remainder of the 2021-2022 legislative term of the Georgia General Assembly. Read more here.



Sands Minor Duchnowski Morris Cohen



River City Bank Roach 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.

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