March 26, 2021  

2021 General Assembly Winding Down

The Georgia General Assembly was in session three days this week and is scheduled to complete the work of the 2021 session March 31. House and Senate committees were busy reporting the last of the bills expected to be considered this session. What we will see now are efforts to compromise on bills that have passed each chamber, but in differing forms. Some of the changes are minor and are readily agreed to by the other chamber. However, others are more significant. For example, on a vote of 167 to 2, the House passed legislation, HB 334 by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas), to allow an additional and optional process for remote online notarization of almost all documents except for some such as wills. GBA has been part of a coalition of lenders, title insurers, attorneys, county clerks and technology companies providing input into the legislation for more than a year. As with any legislation this comprehensive and with as many stakeholders involved, not every suggestion was taken. Overall, the bill was extremely positive and needed as emergency orders by Gov. Brian Kemp and the Supreme Court of Georgia allowing remote notarization are temporary. During a hearing on the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, on a 5-4 vote, Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) successfully offered an amendment at the request of a small group of real estate closing attorneys that exempted real estate transactions from the optional remote notarization process. That change makes the bill much less useful, but that’s the version that should be considered by the full Senate. If it passes, the House will likely disagree with the change and request a conference committee to work on a compromise. It’s too early to predict an outcome, but this is just one example of many such bills that will dominate the remaining two days of the session as the House and Senate members reach consensus on those bills still in play. GBA’s priority bill has already passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Be looking for our Legislative Update with more details.


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PPP Extended; Updated Program Data

The U.S. Senate Thursday voted to extend the Paycheck Protection Program through May 31 for lenders to submit applications and until June 30 for SBA to complete processing. President Biden is expected to sign the legislation soon. This will be helpful to members that have indicated a surge of Schedule C and Schedule F applicants, as those would be difficult to process through the SBA platform before the current March 31 deadline. Here are the updated stats on the program during this round:

  • 119,017 loans this year to Georgia small businesses, sixth most nationally

  • $5.4 billion approved, 10th highest nationally

  • Since inception last year, 293,000 loans to Georgia businesses for more than $20 billion.

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Morris Elected to DOT Board

Congratulations to Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia), who was elected by his peers to serve on the Georgia Department of Transportation Board. His election will result in his leaving the legislature and a special election called to name his successor. Morris has been the longtime chairman of the House Banks and Banking Committee. He has ably led the committee and given all sides of issues ample opportunities for input. "Chairman Morris has been so gracious over the years in hearing us out on all the legislation that has gone through his committee. During his tenure, we've seen Georgia's banking laws continue to be tweaked so they remain among the best in the country. We will greatly miss him and wish him well as he moves to this new role," said GBA's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Elizabeth Chandler.


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GBA Retirement Services Welcomes New Member

GBA Retirement Services, Inc. is excited to welcome its newest member to the GBA Master Trust: First IC Bank, Dong Wook Kim, CEO. We look forward to providing outstanding service to their employees in the years to come. Some of the advantages of being part of the GBA Master Trust include:

  • GBA’s dedicated staff support as a primary resource and oversight of service providers.

  • 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 at 404.420.2025 for more information about how GBA Retirement Services can help design or improve your retirement plan.


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Advocacy in Action

SBA Director Urged to Clear PPP Forgiveness Backlog

GBA this week signed on to a letter with other state bankers associations urging SBA’s new director, Isabel Guzman, to get directly involved in helping clear the backlog of PPP forgiveness applications awaiting approval. We’ve heard from many members with applications pending that far exceed the 90-day decision period required of the SBA. “We commend the SBA’s attempts to safeguard the PPP against waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer-funded dollars in conducting additional reviews of forgiveness applications,” the letter says. “But the resulting delay prevents an efficient winding down of the program for those businesses that have expended these emergency grant funds.” Read the letter here.


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EIDL Deferrals Extended, Shuttered Venue and Restaurant Grants Info

The SBA this week extended the deferment periods for all disaster loans until 2022. This includes the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020 will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note. All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021 will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note. We shared this with CEOs and committee members by email earlier in the week. Other updates we shared included details on Shuttered Venue Grants (applications go live April 8), updated PPP forms that are fillable PDF files, and an overview of the Restaurant Grant program by the Georgia Restaurant Association. The SBA has yet to open its site for this program, and an official testified Wednesday that access to the $28.6 billion fund may not be available for another 30-45 days.


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Action Alert

Speak Out on Credit Union Service Organization Lending Expansion

We encourage members to weigh in with the NCUA in opposition to a proposal that would expand lending activity for credit union service organizations (CUSOs). The proposed rule would allow CUSOs to originate the same types of loans federal credit unions make, including auto and payday loans. CUSOs may serve people who are not members of a credit union, so the expanded authority would undermine credit union field-of membership restrictions. There are also safety and soundness and consumer protection risks. Comments are due March 29. Write and send a letter here.


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HR Conference Touches all Bases

GBA member HR professionals took part this week in our virtual HR Professionals Institute. During two days of meetings, our members learned the latest on all the critical HR trends. Sessions included a fascinating look behind the scenes at Chick-fil-A’s highly regarded culture, a step-by-step guide to strong employee communication, tips and tricks for effective delegation in remote as well as in-person work environments, best practices for helping women bankers be ready for retirement, techniques HR pros can use for themselves as well as share with their co-workers for enhanced wellness, and a thorough update on employment law. HR Committee Chair Valerie Pendergast, Metro City Bank, did a fantastic job hosting the virtual sessions, members were engaged and they had lots of good questions for our expert presenters. A huge GBA thanks to the entire HR Committee and all who attended. With questions, contact Alison Moreau, 404.420.2034.


Committee Chair Valerie Pendergast, Metro City Bank, leads the virtual conference. Cornerstone Bank's Lin Hseih weighs in during a discussion.


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Operating Check/Cashier Check Fraud Alert

The First National Bank of Waynesboro has reported that official checks bearing the bank’s name with the routing number of 061202245 and account number 531161 are being presented fraudulently. This activity has been occurring since March 2021 and is ongoing. They have seen the following remitter names: Persson Group Inc., PGI, Lifeline Inc, The Art Trust and The Art Institute. Checks have ranged from $76,000 to $380,000 and the number range thus far is 6939 - 6945. The bank asks that financial institutions call 706.554.8100 to verify the authenticity of these items before cashing or negotiating. Also note ACH activity with the account and routing number combination. For more information, contact Caroline Blackburn, 706.554.8100.


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GBA Partner Article: ABA Insurance Services

Importance of Written Agreements in Preventing Wire Transfer Fraud

Wire fraud losses continue to grow. What can your bank do to prevent wire transfer fraud? It’s imperative that your staff understand the importance of your bank’s written agreements and following instructions and procedures in place. Taking shortcuts may cause loss claims. In this submitted article from GBA partner ABA Insurance Services, you can read more about the basic construct of a bank’s written agreement, learn about their importance in today’s banking and insurance environment, and conclude with a few best practices to know. Access the article here.


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Reminder – Deadline March 31

Time to Get Involved! Volunteer or Nominate a Fellow Banker to Serve

Bankers and associate members looking to volunteer their time and talent on our committees/boards for the upcoming GBA program year should get nominations in by close of business March 31. Serving is one of the most rewarding and valuable ways to give back to your professional association, and the networking benefits are long-lasting and personally rewarding. The time commitment for most committees and boards is very manageable. Take a look at all the opportunities by clicking here. You can also access the volunteer/nomination form through that link. Committee assignments will be made before July 1 for the upcoming program year. Questions? Contact GBA’s David Oliver.


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Banker-Led Insurance and Retirement Services Boards Meet

Two key resources for GBA members are the GBA Insurance Trust and GBA Retirement Services. The banker-led boards of these key resources met this week. The headline from the GBA Insurance Trust meeting was that health claims experience remains favorable in spite of the volatility surrounding the pandemic. On the GBA Retirement Services front, it is notable that 65% of participants in the GBA 401(k) program are on track to replace at least 70% of their current income in retirement. The national industry average is just 31%. Rick Whaley, president and CEO, The Citizens Bank of Americus, chairs the GBAIT board. Chuck Copeland, president and CEO, First National Bank of Griffin, chairs the GBA Retirement Services board. Employees at almost all Georgia-based banks are covered by GBAIT healthcare plans, and employees at more than one-third of our state’s banks participate in GBA Retirement Services plans. For information on the GBA Insurance Trust, contact Dan Thomason, GBAIT president and CEO, at 404.285.1583. For information on GBA Retirement Services, contact Mandy Richards, director of Retirement Services, at 404.420.2025.


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Marketing Focus

Tips for Optimizing Social Media Next up in Six Pack Series

Nationally recognized digital media expert Amber Farley of Financial Marketing Solutions is our next featured speaker for GBA’s Marketing Six Pack Virtual Conference Series. On March 30, Farley will share the 10 top tips for making sure your bank’s social channels are a trusted resource, communicating differently, humanizing the bank, highlighting community involvement, promoting bank products, developing business opportunities, or extending your customer service offerings. You may still register to get access to her session, the next two sessions and the recording of the session from this week. The series continues each Tuesday from 10-11 a.m. until April 20. See the full schedule and register here.


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In-person Conferences

Security and Rural Development and Lending Coming up

We’ve got two important in-person professional skills conferences soon. Take a look at the latest about each: 

  • Security Conference – April 14-16, The King and Prince, St. Simons

Focus: PPP and Employment Fraud

One of our spotlight sessions U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Glenn Kessler, who will speak about dealing with PPP and employment fraud. This is a timely topic for all Georgia banks. GBA’s Bank Security Conference is the top local event coming up for bank security pros to help them sharpen their skills. Other sessions will cover business e-mail compromise, robbery prevention, sex-trafficking awareness and prevention, roles and responsibilities updates, peer networking and more. Get all the details and register here.


  • Rural Development and Lending Conference – May 20-21, The King and Prince, St. Simons

Focus: Technology Trends Shaping Agribusiness

We’ll have a fascinating talk from Simerjeet Virk, assistant professor and extension precision ag specialist at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus, about trends in technology for farmers and ag-related businesses. Other sessions include Ag Commissioner Gary Black, an economic outlook, a commodity outlook, a crop insurance update, ag tech and precision ag trends, regulatory updates and peer networking. Get all the details and register here.


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GBA Annual Meeting

The 4-1-1 on Annual Meeting Breakout Sessions

We’ve confirmed an excellent slate of breakout sessions for our upcoming Annual Meeting, June 20-22 at The Cloister on Sea Island. Breakout sessions are intended to dig deep into topics helpful to members. On Monday, Rachel Woods, CFA, vice president of Strategies for Truist Securities, will discuss balance sheet and investment planning in 2021. Concurrently, Stewart Thigpen and Brad Washburn, from Steve H. Powell and Co., will share insights for management about recent loan reviews and compliance audits. Tuesday breakouts will feature board and strategic planning trends with attorneys Jonathan Hightower or Fenimore, Kay, Harrison and Ford, LLC, and James Stevens of Troutman Pepper, LLC. In the other session Mike Allen, executive vice president, director of Real Estate Credit Risk at Cadence Bank, will discuss credit trends and an outlook into 2022. Click here to see the full agenda. Other reminders - click here to sign up for daily optional activities. Bookmark the annual meeting website to stay up to date on all annual meeting-related news. A huge thank-you to these sponsors:



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


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Leadership Conference

StrategyCorps’ Dave DeFazio Back to Speak at Summer Conference


GBA Leadership Conference attendees enjoyed speaker Dave DeFazio of StrategyCorps so much in 2019 that we’ve invited him back this year. He’ll have a whole new perspective on things in his presentation, “Planet of the Apps: The Evolving Battle for Customers and Cross-Selling in a Mobile World.” The 2021 Leadership Conference will be July 12-14 at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra, Florida. You won’t want to miss DeFazio’s cutting-edge and energetic session. Click here to access the conference website, 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, Point to Point Environmental, the Holmes Shaw Agency, Mauldin & Jenkins and Wipfli. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


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New In-Person Programs!

  • 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.

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GBA Webinars

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


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Join live or purchase a recording!

Upcoming March Webinars

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 individually. View the full calendar here.

Questions? Email


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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:


Atlanta - CenterState Bank

The bank was an event sponsor for the 30th annual Atlanta Charity Clays fundraiser, which raises more than $300,000 each year to benefit Atlanta’s Children’s Charities.

Clarkesville - United Community Bank

The bank’s Habersham County Branch presented The United Way with a check for $2500, which will go toward meeting critical food needs in the county.


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Bainbridge - First Port City Bank

Robert M. Cohen III and Brad Thompson have been appointed to the bank’s board of directors. Read more here.


Dahlonega - Pinnacle Bank

Our sympathies to Pinnacle Bank Senior Vice President Will Wade and the family, friends and colleagues of Charles R. "Roy" Wade, Will’s father, who died on March 11. Read more here.


Gray - Exchange Bank

The bank announced that Maggie Glover is its 2021 Exchange Bank Scholarship recipient for the Jones County area.


Jasper - Community Bank of Pickens County

The bank has earned BauerFinancial Inc.’s highest 5-Star Superior rating. Read more here. Chief Credit Officer Lorrie S. Shaw has joined the bank’s board of directors. Read more here.


Roswell - Synovus

Retail Marketing Manager IV Catherine Storey will retire in April after more than 50 years in the banking industry. You can send her a note here.


Savannah - SouthState Bank

Earlier this month, past GBA Chairman and former Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed was honored for his work spanning three decades promoting a third interchange at Belfast Keller on I-95 for Bryan County. The interchange was officially named after Burnsed, who spent 12 years as chairman of the Bryan County Commission. The bridge spanning I-95 was named after Burnsed and former Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler. Read more here.


Suwanee - Quantum National Bank

The bank was number 21 on the newest S&P Global 2020 rankings for community banks under $3 billion. This is the third consecutive year that the bank has been included in its rankings.


Valdosta - Commercial Banking Company

Taylor Biddle has been promoted to business banking sales manager. Read more here.


Watkinsville - Oconee State Bank

VP Mortgage Lending Jessica Roberts recently received the 2020 Oconee Chamber Champion of the Year Award.


Birmingham, AL - First National Bankers Bank

Ginny Paul has joined the bank’s Birmingham office as assistant vice president and loan portfolio manager.


Columbia, SC- Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC

Tim Lyons, partner-in-charge of the firm’s Columbia office, has been appointed as a member of the AICPA’s State and Local Government Expert Panel, beginning May 2021. Read more here.



Cohen Thompson Wade Exchange Bank Shaw



Storey Burnsed


Roberts Lyons



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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