Oct. 30, 2020  


James Elected Chair of National Bankers Association

For the second time in as many weeks we bring you news of a Georgia banker taking on a big national leadership role. Robert E. James II of Carver State Bank, Savannah, has been elected Chairman of the National Bankers Association (NBA). “Robert is a bright light for the industry through his leadership at the bank and on the national advocacy stage,” said Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO. “We’re excited that yet another Georgia banker has been entrusted by his peers in such an important role with national reach.” In his role, James will lead the association in its mission to create an inclusive financial services industry and a vibrant business environment for minority financial institutions, their customers and the communities they serve. In addition to serving as a member of the bank’s board, James is the bank’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and president of the Carver Community Development Entity (CDE), a subsidiary of the bank’s holding company that successfully deployed Carver’s 2017 allocation of $30 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) throughout Georgia, creating 389 permanent jobs and 227 construction jobs. NBA member banks are located in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Georgia has 10 minority-owned FDIC-insured institutions. Read more about James here.


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Craft Bank Opens in Midtown Atlanta

Craft Bank became the first new bank to open inside the Atlanta perimeter in 13 years this week. Congratulations to CEO Ross Mynatt and the bank’s executive team of Kitty Kendrick, chief financial officer, Greg Griggs, chief lending officer, Mike Cullinan, chief credit officer, and Beth Martin, co-founder and chief experience officer. Located in the city’s growing West Midtown area, a key focus for the bank will be small- to mid-sized businesses, it says. Read more from Craft Bank here.


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Live Streaming / Recorded Session Option Available

LAST CALL! GBA Financial Risk Management Conference, Nov 5-6, Atlanta

We are looking forward to seeing CFOs and finance teams next week for the 2020 GBA Financial Risk Management Conference Nov. 5-6 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina. in Atlanta. The agenda is packed with useful panel and peer discussions to set you and your bank up for success in 2020. Not sure you can make it in person? Sign up for the live stream option and you can watch at your convenience. We’ll be recording sessions for those who sign up, too. See the hotel’s protocols for wellness and safety as well as GBA’s approach to health and wellness at in-person events. Get full details and access registration here. With questions, contact Alison Moreau. Hope to see you in November!


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Advocacy in Action

Conyers Rotary Gets Georgia Banking Update

Sharing the story of banking often takes us on the road into civic clubs in all corners of the state, but Thursday was a little different as we visited virtually with the Rotary Club of Conyers for their weekly meeting. Our thanks to Shelli Seibert, executive director of the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts for the invitation and to club member Ken Gaylord of BB&T, now Truist, who led the meeting and welcomed Joe Brannen, GBA President and CEO. Brannen updated the club on Georgia’s banking landscape, shared how bankers were financial first responders during the early pandemic and in rolling out the PPP to Georgia businesses, gave a glimpse of bankers’ big-picture strategy discussions and urged members to be on guard against fraud. GBA often speaks to banker and business groups to share the story about banking beyond the headlines. Contact David Oliver, 404.420.2036, with questions.



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Compliance Conference Hits the Mark

GBA Member Compliance Officers gathered in person and virtually last week for their annual conference. The three-day conference touched on strategic, tactical and motivational topics critical for success in today’s compliance environment. Chick-Fil-A’s André Kennebrew kicked things off with an inspiring talk about personal leadership, and the rest of the first day’s agenda was all about risk management with presentations from Paul Viancourt from nContracts. Thursday’s full-day agenda included a regulatory and CRA update from ABA’s Ginny O’Neill and Krista Shonk. Secura Risk Management’s Terri Sands shared the latest fraud and fraud prevention trends, Treliant’s Carl Pry gave a two-hour primer on advertising compliance and the day concluded with a BSA/Fraud panel featuring David Blake of the Georgia Department of Aging Services, Homeland Security agent Reuben Fernandez, U.S. Postal Service Agent Taylor Fernandez, and Melissa Sneed from the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. United Bank’s Thomas Williams moderated. The final day’s presentations were from nContracts Kimberly Boatwright about Notice of Action Taken, the DBF’s Bo Fears with an update on hemp banking and a sobering look at red flags for preventing sex trafficking by Jeff Shaw of the Atlanta Dream Center. Congratulations to the Compliance Committee for planning such a robust program. Melody Halloran, WB&T Bankshares, chairs the committee, and Christopher Marks, American Pride Bank, is vice chair. Thanks to sponsors Abel Solutions, Steve H. Powell & Company, Carr, Riggs & Ingram, Centrant Community Capital, Wipfli and Mauldin & Jenkins.


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GBA Member Profile

Adapting to Change, Andy Griffith and More with Michael Thigpen

Michael Thigpen, Chief Credit Officer at The Bank of Soperton, was inspired to be a banker as a freshman at Georgia Southern University when someone spoke to his orientation class about the important roles bankers play in their communities and giving something back. “From then on, I knew I wanted to major in Finance and work in this industry. I never really saw myself doing anything else,” Thigpen said. The Group 1 representative on GBA’s Leadership GBA Board of Directors, Thigpen shares where he learned his strong work ethic, how the industry needs to continue to adapt to rapid change and more in his GBA member profile.


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Reps. Loudermilk, Scott Introduce Bill to Help with PPP-Affected Balance Sheets

We appreciate U.S. Reps. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA-11) and David Scott (D-GA-13) for introducing a bipartisan bill that requires federal banking regulators to exclude PPP loans when determining capital ratios, deposit insurance premiums and other asset thresholds and categories under Federal banking regulations. The bill covers institutions $15 billion and below in consolidated assets. Loudermilk and Scott are Georgia’s representatives on the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. We worked with Loudermilk as he took the lead on the legislation, which supports an Interim Financial Rule from FDIC last week. The bill gives relief to FDIC-supervised as well as to OCC-chartered banks. The FDIC’s rule applies to banks that crossed various asset thresholds simply because their balance sheets grew from Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lending and/or federal reserve facilities. The IFR gives relief to those banks related to independent audit and various enhanced reporting requirements, and that’s good news for a number of our members. Nationwide, about 290 banks crossed various regulatory thresholds because of pandemic-related relief efforts, notes Eve Rogers of GBA Associate Member accounting firm Crowe. Rep. Loudermilk has also spoken with FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams last week covering his legislation and other issues we’ve surfaced such as third-party risk assessments, CRA reform, cannabis banking and the evolving regulatory policy related to the pandemic.


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Lots at Stake at State Level on Election Day - Vote!

In addition to the headline-making Presidential, U.S. Senate and U.S. House elections coming up Tuesday, there is quite a bit at stake at the state and local level:

  • 87 contested state House seats (including 18 retirements)

  • 29 state Senate contests (including 8 retirements)

  • Thousands of city, county and additional statewide elected posts

  • Many bankers hold or are running for elected office.

Please encourage and support your employees in their efforts to vote, as well as encouraging your customers. Thanks to the many members who have participated in our Georgia Bankers Democracy Days get-out-the-vote campaign. Amplify you and your bank’s efforts on social media by posting photos and using the #GABankersVote hashtag. See how Morris Bank has joined the fun by clicking on the image in the article or here.


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2020 BankPAC Campaign Rolls On

Banks and bankers are continuing strong support for the 2020 BankPAC campaign. If you and your bank have yet to contribute, please find the campaign materials on the BankPAC page of GBA’s website. We appreciate all of our contributors and want to thank this week’s banks contributing to the GBA StatePAC: 

And, thank you to the contributors to the GBA FedPAC who are eligible employees, officers and directors from the following banks and organizations:

  • Exchange Bank, John Childs, president and CEO

  • Renasant Bank, David Durland, Georgia president

  • South Georgia Banking Company, Glenn Willis, president & CEO

  • The Piedmont Bank, Monty Watson, chairman & CEO

  • United Bank, Jim Edwards, CEO

Thank you for your support of this important effort! With questions, contact Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.


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Crime and Punishment

Augusta-Area Bank Robber Gets 20+ Years, No Parole

An Augusta-area man who wielded an AR-15-style rifle to rob two Fifth-Third Bank branches in Augusta in December of 2017 has been sentenced to 252 months in federal prison with no parole. Ronnie Dean Brown pled guilty to and was convicted of two counts of Bank Robbery, and one count each of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. “Ronnie Brown is a violent, unrepentant serial criminal who needlessly threatened the lives of bank employees and customers,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “He’s now learned that in federal court, gun crime earns serious prison time - and our community is safer as a result.” Read more here.


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IRS Announces Cost of Living Adjustments for 2021

The IRS recently announced the Cost of Living Adjustments for 2021, including retirement plan limit updates. The maximum annual participant deferral limit for a 401(k) plan will remain at $19,500. The catch-up contribution limit for participants over age 50 will remain at $6,500. Click here to see other retirement plan limits for 2021. We want to help you and your team members prepare for a financially stable retirement. GBA Retirement Services, Inc., an affiliate of the Georgia Bankers Association, is available to help you review your existing retirement plan. Benefits of the 401(k) plans offered through GBA Retirement Services include competitive fees due to size of Master Trust, customized service from GBA staff, a managed investment account solution for participants, flexibility and performance of investments and added oversight by having Unified Trust Company as a Discretionary Trustee of each Plan in the Trust. Having a Discretionary Trustee in your plan helps to reduce the fiduciary liability your Plan Committee may currently be responsible for. Let us help you review your current plan and compare to what GBA Retirement Services can do for you! Contact Mandy Richards at 404.420.2025 with questions or for assistance in doing a periodic review and comparison of your retirement plan.


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NEW Program Offering!

WEBINAR: Stout and GBA present a BSA/AML Overview, Parts I-III

We’re bringing in the much-loved presenters from Stout (as featured at The BSA Experience) to a Zoom Webinar on December 1-3, 2020. This three-part series is designed to provide an overview of the following:

  • What is money laundering?

  • What are the various types of money laundering and the related risks?

  • AML-related laws, rules, and regulations

  • What types of financial institutions are subject to AML regulations?

  • What do financial institutions need to do to comply?

  • What are the risks of non-compliance?

  • What are the Five Pillars?

  • What are the primary responsibilities of a BSA officer?

  • Training best practices

  • Overview of CDD and beneficial ownership

  • Policies, procedures, and controls basics

  • Independent testing

  • Case study examples.

Register here. Questions? jwarner@gabankers.com.


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Women in Banking Series - Session 3 - Bonus! “How to Look Like A Rock Star on Your Virtual Calls”

With no clear end in sight to conducting business virtually, people are getting serious about mastering virtual skills. In fact, the New York Times had an article recently about how on-camera sloppiness or bad camera angle on virtual calls is no longer cute - people now think: “C’mon - It’s been six months - get your act together.” And if this is where we are going to be for the foreseeable future, we need to be putting our best foot forward virtually. Our Women in Banking Virtual Series Session 3 speaker, Kelly McDonald, a marketing and advertising specialist, has added a bonus module to her session on how to look professional and polished on your virtual calls and meetings. The mini-session will be filled with specific tips and actual photos of what to do and not do, the “moire effect,” how to drink water on a call, what lurking is (not what you think!), and more. It’s not about vanity - it’s about looking polished and professional, so don’t miss Session 3. Kelly’s main session will still be “How to Help & Serve Your Customers in a Virtual World NOW & Seamlessly Transition Back to Business as Usual LATER,” so you’ll get double the content, all from 10-11 a.m. EDT on Nov. 2!  Register now: Access the remaining four live sessions and a recording of our first two sessions. A big thank-you to our series sponsors - click here to see the complete list, along with info on all upcoming sessions. Contact Kathy Friestad with questions.


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Credit Conference - Dec. 10-11

Credit Conference Agenda is Ready, Registration is Open, Please Join Us!

Registration is open for GBA’s 2020 Credit Conference, scheduled for Dec. 10-11 at the Atlanta Marriott Renaissance Waverly Hotel. You have the option to attend this event in person or virtually. Click here to see the agenda. Thanks to the Credit Committee chaired by Stacy BrantleyMorris Bank; and with vice-chair Philip BernardiOconee State Bank; for planning the conference. Click here to register. With questions, contact Alison Moreau. See the hotel’s protocols for wellness and safety as well as GBA’s approach to health and wellness at in-person events. Get full details and access registration here. 


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Mark Your Calendars for these early 2021 Conferences & Schools

King and Prince Golf & Beach Resort, St. Simons

  • Operations Technology, February 24-26

  • HR Professionals Institute, March 24-26

  • Marketing Conference, March 25-26

  • Security Conference, April 15-16

  • Georgia Banking School, May 2-7, Athens

  • Rural Development and Lending Conference, May 20-21

University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, Athens, May 2-7, 2021

  • Georgia Banking School

  • Compliance School - Year One - Building the Base

Contact Alison Moreau with questions about any of these upcoming events.


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Click here to learn more about the GBA-endorsed agent bank credit card program:



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Fiduciary Focus Webinar for Retirement Plans Next Week

It’s not too late to sign up for our Fiduciary Focus Webinar next week. GBA Retirement Services, in partnership with Unified Trust Company, has scheduled a series of three-monthly informational webinars, and the second one is next Thursday, Nov. 5. These webinars are most beneficial for sponsors of retirement plans, including CEOs, Human Resources professionals and other Retirement Plan Committee members. More information on our second of the upcoming webinar series is below:


Fiduciary Focus: The Three C’s- Committee, Cost and Cyber Security

Thursday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m.

We are all facing new challenges this year. However, the job of a fiduciary does not stop even for COVID-19! During these unordinary times, plan fiduciaries still have a responsibility to prudently manage their retirement plan. In this webinar presentation, we will review the responsibilities these fiduciaries have, such as holding committee meetings, documenting the decisions made, monitoring their service providers, and making sure fees are reasonable for the services provided. We will also discuss new areas of fiduciary focus; cyber security, ESG investments and fee disclosure. Click here to register.


Please reach out to Mandy Richards at 404.420.2025 with any questions. If your plan is not with GBA Retirement Services and you would like to learn more about our high-quality 401(k) program that includes a discretionary trustee, managed account solution for each participant, reduced fees, and added oversight with GBA Retirement Services as the Master Plan Sponsor, please also reach out. We would love to help you with a free plan comparison.


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Loss Control Advisory Bulletin from GBA Partner ABA Insurance Services

Even in a pandemic, well-publicized ransomware incidents continue to exploit targeted government entities, hospital systems, school districts and financial institutions. Today’s attacks create even more havoc by infiltrating entire operating systems; deleting on-site backups; and exfiltrating sensitive data, with bad guys threatening to publish confidential information if their demands are not met. In one recent incident, a bank was shut down for days after numerous systems were attacked, including its core operating system, online banking platform, and telephones. The extortionists demanded a ransom in excess of $1 million. Cyber-security experts continue to emphasize that common-sense measures are the best first step in protecting your bank. These recommendations include:

  • Training employees to recognize suspicious emails and attachments

  • Keeping antivirus and anti-malware software up to date

  • Ongoing, regularly scheduled offsite (cloud based) backups that are not connected to the networks being backed up

  • Refining incident response and business continuity plans to reflect today’s threat environment.

Click here to read the complete advisory bulletin from GBA partner ABA Insurance Services, and contact Paul Halloran, paul.halloran@pninsurance.com, 404.423.4970, to learn about how ABA Insurance Services can help mitigate risk at your bank.



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Fall Webinars: Branch Controls, Lender and Teller Skills, and Excel Training

We appreciate members choosing the programs we offer for your ongoing needs. Check out these upcoming virtual offerings. View the full calendar here for dates, times and more programs. With questions, email events@gabankers.com.


Save 10-30% with a webinar subscription package - details here!

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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 - Hyperion Bank

At a specially called meeting Oct. 22, bank shareholders approved the formation of a holding company, Hyperion Bancshares, Inc. As a result, Hyperion Bank will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the new holding company, pending regulatory approval. Read more here.


Blairsville - United Community Bank

The bank was recently named one of the Best Banks to Work For in 2020 by American Banker and Best Companies Group.


Cochran - Community Bank of Dublin-Laurens County/The Citizens Bank of Cochran

Brian K. Bazemore has been elected President/CEO. Read more here.


Hinesville - The Heritage Bank, a Division of Heritage Southeast Bank

Rod Chavez has been hired as Executive Director of the Heritage Community Foundation, an initiative of Heritage Bank. Read more here.


Louisville - Queensborough National Bank & Trust Company, Inc.

The bank was recently named Georgia's top small bank by Newsweek. Read more here.


Savannah - Coastal States Bank

Mark Kay has joined the bank as senior vice president, commercial lending relationship manager.


Savannah - Great Oaks Bank

The bank recently celebrated the official grand opening of a new banking office at Savannah Quarters with a ribbon cutting and private client reception. The Pooler Chamber of Commerce officiated the ribbon cutting with bank executives, staff, and chamber members in attendance.


Watkinsville - Oconee State Bank

The bank was recently named in Georgia’s Top 100 Companies for 2020 by GeorgiaTrend Magazine.




United Community Bank


Great Oaks 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 David Oliver and Katina Prokos.

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