December 14, 2018  


Farm Bill Passes with GBA Support

The U.S. House and Senate this week passed the $867-billion 2018 Farm Bill. GBA was among many other industry and trade groups from around the country signing on to a letter of support for the bill to House members as they prepared to vote on the bill Wednesday. The FDIC recognizes 22 Georgia banks as those with concentrations in agribusiness loans, and many more than that do business with customers from Georgia’s number-one industry in a variety of ways. This year’s bill includes important crop insurance provisions and USDA loan guarantees. "Getting this bill passed was crucial to so many of our producers and it brings much needed certainty to our farm customers who have been struggling with lower commodity prices and the aftereffects of hurricanes hitting Georgia the past two years," said GBA Agriculture Committee chair Todd Harrell, vice president and senior lending officer of United National Bank, Cairo. A special shout out to two members of our Georgia House delegation who were appointed conferees to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill: Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA8) and Rep. David Scott (R-GA13). Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA12) is also a member of the House Agriculture Committee, and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. They all worked tirelessly to get the bill passed. There are some new provisions in the farm bill such as legalizing production of industrial hemp with less than 0.3 percent THC, the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. That provision becomes more important if the Georgia General Assembly adopts recommendations from two study committees allowing hemp farming and cannabis oil distribution in the upcoming state legislative session. With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, or Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.


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Scenes from the GBA Credit Conference

Here are some views of the GBA Credit Conference underway this week. We’ll highlight some of the program content in next week’s issue.



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Advocacy Update

Biennial State Legislative Institute Convenes

Current and newly elected members of the Georgia General Assembly met this week in Athens to hear about issues before them for the 2019 session that will convene on Jan. 14, 2019. GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler was there to hear what’s on the minds of those in attendance, and the agenda was heavy on rural development needs, the state budget and hearing from Governor-elect Brian Kemp and Lt. Governor-elect Geoff Duncan. We look forward to working with them as well as the 35-plus newly elected members of the General Assembly. There are three special elections pending that we will watch closely. We will begin publishing the GBA Legislative Update once the General Assembly convenes. With questions, please contact Elizabeth Chandler at 404.420.2027.


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Edwards, Brannen and Jordan

Planning for 2019 Federal Initiatives Underway

Georgia bankers were well-represented this week as leaders from across the country gathered as part of the ABA’s Government Relations Council to discuss legislative and regulatory priorities for the coming year. Walker Jordan, Bank of Monticello, represents our state on the council. Also attending the meeting were ABA vice chair, Jim Edwards, United Bank, Griffin, and GBA president and CEO Joe Brannen. "This was my first meeting as our newly appointed representative, and I was impressed with what I saw. Meeting with bankers like me from all over the country reinforced how much we have in common. There is also a lot of passion for continuing to make progress on regulatory relief like we saw from the bipartisan bill passed earlier this year. We’ll certainly have our work cut out for us, but we’ve got a track record of navigating through congress regardless of which party is in control. And we’ll be working closely with all the federal banking regulators as they implement rules coming out of the reg relief bill and taking a fresh look at things like BSA/AML and CRA rules," said Jordan. The incoming chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing most banking issues, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) spoke to the gathering to give a flavor of the House when it comes under Democrat control next year. Meeks emphasized the subcommittee will look at a broad range of issues and expect them to focus on consumer protection as well as broader issues like ensuring CRA works to give access to banking services. He also said he would like to reopen discussion of changing the single director position at the CFPB to a bipartisan commission, something the banking industry has been supporting. Throughout the meeting, among the other issues with direct implication to Georgia bankers discussed were related to deposit gathering, rate caps, HMDA/fair lending, FinTech charters and relationships, cybersecurity, cannabis banking, CECL and Sub S tax treatment. With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.


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Powell Confirmed for Economic/Legislative Forum

The VIP lineup of speakers for our annual Economic and Legislative Forum Jan. 16 keeps getting better. This week state Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) accepted our invitation to speak about the key rural development issues he’s been spearheading as co-chair of the House Rural Development Council and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Powell joins FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic and Georgia Banking Commissioner Kevin Hagler as confirmed speakers. We’ve got a big crowd registered already, so you’ll definitely want to join your peers for this important advocacy event, which leads in to our annual Legislative Reception honoring our state’s elected officials. The forum begins at 3 p.m. and the reception starts at 6 p.m., and it’s all at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Downtown. Get details and register here.


Related: Don’t forget to reserve your room at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta (downtown) before the Dec. 19 cut-off (that’s next Wednesday) to secure our $199 group rate. Make reservations by calling 404.577.1234.


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Of Adding Machines and Good Habits with Dawn Griffin

In her very first job as a savings and loan teller in Mobile, AL, Liberty First Bank President and CEO Dawn Griffin recorded all transactions by hand and worked into the evenings until the entire system was balanced. "I became quite good at running a 10-key adding machine," she said. "The one practice that has stuck with me all these many years is to do it right!" Griffin is chair of GBA Services, Inc., and in this week’s GBA member profile she discusses her accidental entry into the banking industry, the need for members to rely on GBA for recommendations of services, her family role as "Honey" to four little boys and more. Read her full profile here.


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Ports Continue to Thrive

News out of the Georgia Ports Authority this week is good. Our state’s ports are expected to break records for container handling this year. The state’s ports have grown the amounts of containers handled for 25 consecutive months, and November’s total at the Port of Savannah was up 11.4 percent. "Every additional container we move means new business in trucking, rail and warehousing," said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. "The ripple effect of the success at Georgia’s ports means additional jobs and income coming to our neighbors and communities across the state." Also, last week Gov. Nathan Deal, along with representatives of the Georgia Ports Authority, the Greater Hall Chamber and Norfolk Southern Railroad announced plans to make Hall County the site of the GPA’s next inland port


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Kraninger Sworn in at CFPB, Waters Nominated to Head House Banking Committee

The CFPB’s new boss started work this week, and there’s soon to be a new head of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. Stay tuned, because the two will certainly cross paths soon. New CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger was sworn in this week and asserted her intent to be fully independent from her predecessor in remarks to reporters. "I am incredibly grateful to Mick Mulvaney, he was a fantastic boss for two years... But I can tell you that I am here to be the director of this bureau and I will be fully accountable for the decisions that I make going forward and they will be mine," she said. She did voice support for Mulvaney’s actions to scale back certain types of supervision he viewed as regulating through enforcement rather than rulemaking. Across town at the Capitol U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) was officially nominated to be the next chair of the House Financial Services Committee. She said she’ll focus on consumer protection, affordable housing, innovation and holding the Trump administration accountable. "Of particular importance is ensuring that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not dismantled by Trump’s appointees. This critical agency must be allowed to resume its work of protecting consumers from unfair, deceptive or abusive practices without interference from the Trump Administration," she said.


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Unique Idea for Putting Bankers where Prospects Are

There’s a popular trend in many metro markets toward shared or "co-working" office space where a variety of people and businesses rent small, short-term office space. It’s a trend that one GBA member thinks presents a good way for bankers to strategically position some business development talent. In a blog post, CenterState Bank’s Chris Nichols says banks can put some employees in these shared office concepts as a way to save costs, allow flexibility and have them work close to a core group of potential customers. The post cites statistics showing that high percentages of companies located in co-working spaces need banking services and actually have longevity to their businesses. And, renting a co-working space for a bank employee can usually be done for periods as short as three months, so there’s opportunity for experimentation with little risk, Nichols says. Read more here.


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De Novo Accelerator Series Concludes, Archive Available

Throughout the fall we’ve been honored to co-present a deep look at all that’s needed to get a new bank up and running in today’s environment. The seven-part De Novo Bank Accelerator Webinar series concluded Wednesday with an overview of lessons learned and a rare behind-the-scenes look at how one bank did it. Jim Pope, the organizing CEO of KeyWorth Bank, which opened in 2007 and merged with Renasant Bank in 2016, was our special guest. He detailed his experiences from the time he and his fellow organizers decided to start a bank throughout the full startup cycle, and how the lessons he and his team learned may be applied today. Thank you to our partners in developing the series, James Stevens of Troutman Sanders and Tim Keadle of Porter Keadle Moore. And, also a big thanks to the 20 experts including top de novo consultants, attorneys, accountants, regulators, insurance providers, correspondent and investment bankers, IT specialists and industry trade group professionals who were featured during the series. See who they all were and access the full archive of each session online here: De Novo Bank Accelerator Series Archive. There’s no cost, and the archive includes the audio recording and associated presentations, as well as contact information and bios of each presenter.


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Shoot for BankPac

Leadership GBA will host the second-annual Georgia BankPAC Sporting Clay Tournament Feb. 7 at Old Hudson Plantation in Sparta (Greensboro area). This four-shooter scramble tournament is lots of fun and a great way to entertain clients or even invite local leaders to network. We had more than 60 participants in the inaugural event last year. Here are the key details: Registration is $500 per four-person team or $150 per person. Special Offer: Stand Sponsorship + Four-Shooter Team = $700 (a $150 discount!). The price covers 100 targets for each shooter, cart, lunch and reception. To sign up, just click here. If you don’t shoot but want to show your support, sponsorships are available. Click here for more information. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions, 404.420.2024.


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Three new Members Join GBA Retirement Services

GBA Retirement Services, Inc. is thrilled to welcome three new members to the Master Trust in 2019: Newton Federal Bank, Covington, Johnny Smith, CEO; Oconee State Bank, Watkinsville, Neil Stevens, CEO; and Stuckey Timberland, Eastman, Wade Hall, CEO. It has been a pleasure working with and getting to know more of their employees. See below for pictures from some of our participant education meetings at various locations last week. We look forward to providing outstanding service to these members and their employees in the years to come.


Newton Federal Bank

Oconee State Bank

GBA Retirement Services provides a product that is flexible and is sure to meet the needs of our banks, Associate Members and bank clients. Just some of the advantages of being part of the GBA Master Trust include:

  • GBA’s dedicated staff support as a primary resource

  • Unified Trust Company as an investment manager and discretionary Trustee

  • Reduced fees with high-quality service providers

  • Ongoing investment education and retirement planning sessions for employees

  • Personalized Managed Account Solution geared to each participant’s needs through the Unified Plan at no additional cost for participants.

We would love to do a plan review and show you why all of our members are pleased with the service and performance provided by GBA Retirement Services. Contact Mandy Richards, 404.420.2025, or Danielle Driggers, 404.420.2002, for more information about how GBA Retirement Services can help design or improve your retirement plan.


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2019 Seminars - Registration Open!










Jan. 30


Analyzing Financial Statements



Mike Allen


Feb. 12


IRA Basics



Patrice Konarik


Feb. 13


Call Reporting



Michael Gordon & Kris Trainor


Feb. 20


Fair Lending for HMDA & Non-HMDA Banks



Steve Moore


March 11


Basic Deposit & Operations Compliance



Steve Moore


March 12-13


Basic Lending Compliance



Steve Moore


April 3


Loan Documentation



Mike Allen


April 17


New Account Documentation & Compliance



Suzie Jones


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GBA Strategic Partner FMS Helps Banks with Marketing, Branding, Social Media and More

Digital marketing channels such as email, social media, blogs, online display ads, search engine optimization, and search engine and mobile marketing are important for winning new business from today's bank customers. GBA Strategic Partner Financial Marketing Solutions, or simply FMS, is a group of strategists and creative thinkers who serve banks, and only banks. The bank brands and other projects that endeavor to create are unique, crafted with care, personal devotion and obvious passion. Creativity is critically important to them, but their work also has to be strategic or it’s just marketing fluff. FMS knows that a solid brand campaign will accomplish goals, impact the bottom line, affect positive change and be memorable recognizable no matter where your customers are. The GBA has been proud to endorse FMS as a GBA Strategic Partner since 2007. For more information, please contact Sean Hockenbery of FMS at 615.591.2073. Want to see what FMS has been up to on social media lately? Click below.



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Employee Benefit Selections are Easy and Affordable with Holmes-Shaw

Holmes-Shaw has built a full portfolio of complementary products and services around the GBA Insurance Trust's core benefit programs, allowing participants and their employees to expand their benefit selections affordably. Some of these products and services include:

  • Medical benefits

  • Group life insurance

  • Long-term disability insurance

  • Dental coverage

  • Voluntary accidental death coverage

  • Voluntary short term disability insurance

  • Voluntary life insurance.

The wide variety helps Holmes-Shaw meet each company's unique needs, and Holmes-Shaw develops programs directly with insurance companies or through strategic partnerships, allowing them to present the best options to its clients. With questions or to learn more about how Holmes-Shaw can help your company enhance its current benefit offerings, please contact Bruce Shaw, 770.642.2150.


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Online Classes - January

Attention Banking Professionals

ABA facilitated online courses feature an online learning community with fellow students, instructor guidance and feedback. Click here for a list of all ABA offerings. There are eight upcoming courses scheduled to begin in January:

To register for the courses, click on the individual course titles above. For more information, contact Shan Haugabrook, 404.420.2020.


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Bank Teller Training for Being Successful in Expanded Role

The ABA Bank Teller Certificate addresses the expanding role of bank tellers. Master core competencies such as cash handling, check cashing, deposit and withdrawal processing, cash payments, and daily settlements of teller cash and proof transactions. Develop a broad understanding of bank products. Build interpersonal skills that are effective with both customers and fellow colleagues. The certificate curriculum is augmented by courses that contribute to the overall professional development of teller associates. These range from courses in ethics, workplace conduct and bank product knowledge to being able to provide value added customer service through a relationship sales approach. For more information, contact Shan Haugabrook, 404.420.2020.


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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 Katina Prokos at 404.420.2021.


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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:


Atlanta - BB&T

The bank recently made a $500,000 grant to the Ron Clark Academy to host an annual "BB&T Ron Clark Academy Teacher Training Day." BB&T covers training, transportation, lodging and other expenses for educators from schools that primarily serve low-income and at-risk populations and demonstrate a commitment to applying innovative approaches for student success.

Atlanta - Fidelity Bank

Wealth Mangement Vice President Phillip Knight participated represented the bank in the Sleighbells on the Square 5K in Marietta. The bank has sponsored the Cobb Barr Association (and the Sleighbells on the Square 5K) for the past three years.

Augusta - Queensborough National Bank and Trust Co.

Merchant services specialist Michelle Wallen and vice president/credit analyst Ashby Bethune volunteered to ring the Salvation Army bells at Cabela’s in Augusta.

Columbus - Synovus

There were 33 bank volunteers who took part of the 1,000th build for House of Heroes, repairing the Columbus-area home of Anna Lopardo, former Army sergeant and reservist with 17 years of military service.

Dublin - Citizens Bank of Laurens County

The bank’s 2018-2019 Student Council donated items to Hurricane Michael victims in South Georgia for their project this year.

Lincolnton - South State Bank

The bank recently donated $25,000 to the Boy Scouts of America Georgia-Carolina Council to support the construction of a multi-use dining facility at the Robert E. Knox Scout Reservation in Lincolnton. It is scheduled to open in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts. Bank Regional President and Georgia BankPAC Board member Jay Forrester is shown on the right presenting the donation check.

Loganville - Legacy State Bank

The bank recently completed its donation campaign for Operation Toy Soldier, which provides toys to the children of deployed and non-deployed military members. Executive vice presidents Bill Walker and Chuck Drexler are shown here with the donations.

Marietta - First Landmark Bank

President and CEO Stan Kryder recently served as a table host for the Boy Scouts Golden Eagle Luncheon. The event raised $2.18 million for the Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, and more than 1,700 people were in attendance. Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy was the keynote speaker and played the trumpet in the opening ceremony, and SunTrust CFO Allison Dukes served as Golden Eagle Chairman. 


Atlanta - Georgia Bankers Association

Staff members John Runnion, Katina Prokos, Jenna Lynn Warner, Frankie Harris, Mandy Richards and her daughter Maddie Richards spent the afternoon of Dec. 7 volunteering at "Santa’s Village" for the Empty Stocking Fund, which has provided brand-new toys to children in need since 1927. The volunteer shift was accompanied by an annual staff fundraising campaign, which this year reached the $20,000 mark in total dollars raised for the Empty Stocking Fund since 2001.


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Albany - Flint Community Bank

Our condolences to bank President Frank Griffin and his family. Frank’s father, William Franklin "W.F." Griffin, Sr., died Dec. 5. Read his obituary here.


Columbus - Synovus

CFO Kevin Blair has been promoted to senior executive vice president and chief operating officer. Read more here.


Dublin/Statesboro - Morris Bank/Farmers & Merchants Bank

Morris State Bancshares, Inc. announced Wednesday the signing of a definitive agreement for the merger of Farmers & Merchants Bank and Morris Bank.


Macon - State Bank and Trust Company

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Dec. 7 approved of the merger of State Bank Financial Corporation and Cadence Bancorporation. Read the announcement here.


Milledgeville - The Peoples Bank

Keith Davis has joined the bank’s Sinclair office as a branch manager and loan officer.


Sandersville - Citizens Bank of the South

Our condolences to the family and friends of bank director Charles E. Lee, who died on Nov. 29. Read his obituary here.


Vidalia - Altamaha Bank and Trust Company

Our condolences to president and CEO Brent Sammons and his family. His father, former bank CEO Colon Sammons, died on Dec. 11. Read his obituary here.


Atlanta - Georgia Bankers Association

Condolences to our teammates Lee Belaus, whose mother died on Dec. 10, and Shan Haugabrook, whose aunt Veronica Squire died last week.






In Memoriam






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 Katina Prokos.