Dec. 23, 2021  

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from GBA

From our GBA family to yours, we wish you a merry Christmas and happy holidays. At the top of our holiday wish list is for everyone to enjoy a festive, safe and memorable season with your families and other loved ones. Unless there is some critical breaking news, we won't be publishing an E-Bulletin next week, so look for our next edition the following week.


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Remembering Johnny Isakson

Our hearts were broken this week when we heard the news that former U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson had died. From his earliest days in elected office in the Georgia General Assembly and through his time in Congress, Sen. Isakson believed in the banking industry and the good we do by recycling deposits in the form of loans making people’s dreams come true. His bipartisan approach to governance caused big things to happen under his leadership. No other Georgian has served in the Georgia House and Senate and the U.S. House and Senate, suffering with dignity some losses along the way. He also chaired the state Board of Education as republican appointed by democrat Gov. Zell Miller. He ended his Senate career chairing the Veterans Affairs and Ethics Committees. His passion for helping those who served our country in uniform created a better system of care for those in need. And his no nonsense approach to right and wrong made him the perfect choice to serve as the watchdog over his colleagues as they trusted him implicitly. “Johnny Isakson was a true friend, both on a personal and professional level. He always found ways to bring people together to find solutions. If someone couldn’t get on board, he called them a future friend. He will be remembered as one of the greatest public servants our state has produced, and we are all better because of his sacrifice to serve,” said GBA president and CEO Joe Brannen.


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Gov. Kemp to Speak at Legislative/Economic Forum

We’re excited to announce that Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr will join us at the Legislative and Economic Forum Jan. 12 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Downtown. We’ll look forward to hearing their remarks, as well as other esteemed speakers Jeffrey Dorfman, the State Fiscal Economist of Georgia and a professor of economics at The University of Georgia; a peek at major issues of the session from House Speaker David Ralston; Georgia politics from Atlanta Journal-Constitution politics and government reporter Greg Bluestein; and a banking update from Georgia Department of Banking and Finance commissioner Kevin Hagler. Other special guests from the General Assembly may also participate in the forum, so watch closely for agenda updates. The forum will be from 3-6 p.m., followed by our Legislative Reception from 6-7:30 p.m. Click here to register. A huge thank you to event sponsors FHLB of Atlanta and ServisFirst Bank, Correspondent DivisionClick here for details and to reserve your sponsorship. Questions? Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad. 


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Community Bank Leverage Ratio Re-Setting to 9% on Jan. 1

Here’s one we don’t want to get lost in the holiday shuffle as a significant number of member banks use the Community Bank Leverage Ratio (CBLR) capital regime. Regulators this week announced the community bank leverage ratio will revert to a minimum of 9% on Jan. 1, 2022, as coronavirus-related exemptions will expire. Banking organizations that elect the CBLR framework on their March 31, 2022, call reports will be subject to the requirement. There’s a two-quarter grace period to give banks time to restore capital levels to 9%. Read details here. GBA and other bankers associations nationwide continue to support a legislative solution to extend the period for a lower CBLR ratio of between 8% and 8.5% through the end of 2024, as outlined in our joint letter earlier this month. Read the letter here. With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, or Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.


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DBF Finalizes Rules

The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance adopted Final Rules last week that will be effective on Jan. 5, 2022. Per the DBF’s summary of the Rules, the changes are not intended to be substantive amendments but, instead, are intended to simply restructure certain rules in order to make it easier to navigate the applicable rules. In particular for banks, the proposed revision restructures and reorders the holding company rules into two separate Rule Chapters, one dealing with applications and acquisitions involving a holding company and the other addressing holding company operations. With questions, call GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler at 404.420.2027.


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Insurance News

Cards for Medical and Prescription Benefits in Distribution

Members covered by GBA Insurance Trust medical plans have begun to receive their updated medical and prescription benefits cards by mail. Check your mailbox closely over the coming days for those as well as for additional information about the new pharmacy benefit manager, RxEDO. For those of you with employee only or employee and spouse coverage, you will receive two ID cards. For those of you with employee and child(ren) or family coverage, you will initially receive two ID cards, then another envelope with cards for any dependents age 18 or older. Also, we are sending new cards to those of you covered by our dental plans and Medicare Supplemental plans. RxEDO is using the CVS Caremark robust online platform to help with your prescription drug coverage. You should also get information about how to set that up in your mail. RxEDO is staffing a 24/7 Member Service line and they can help if you run into any issues by calling 888.879.0168. With routine questions about your coverage, you can always call Jayn Lawson, our Manager of Member Support. Her office number is 404.420.2002 and mobile is 404.295.9161. Paragon’s number is 800.277.9218 if you have questions about claims or flex benefits.


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Telemedicine Key Benefit for GBAIT Members

Just a friendly reminder that members covered by GBA Insurance Trust health plans have access to no-cost, 24/7 telemedicine services through Wellview. Telemedicine can help you and your family avoid doctor's offices, added costs and copays. In most cases, you will be speaking with a doctor within 10 minutes, and the doctor can send prescriptions to your pharmacy of choice. More details here.



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What’s Your Story? A Blog about Blogging

By Neal Reynolds, GBA Partner Bank Marketing Center

Time flies, doesn’t it? It’s been almost two years to the day that we posted a blog about the importance of getting into the social game. Now, we’re back with a similar discussion. Why? Social media marketing has taken on an even greater importance over the last two years and, well, blogging has become an even more important component of social media marketing. And blogging should be a major focus. Not only can blogging connect with your customers, build relationships, increase brand awareness, and generate sales leads, it’s efficient, effective, and measurable. Blogging facilitates interaction, interaction equals engagement, engagement equals relationship, and relationship equals loyalty and (ideally) increased revenue. Read more from Reynolds here, and visit for more great marketing content and ideas.


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The Tiger King and BSA Compliance

FinCEN has put out a report highlighting a significant increase in suspicious activity reports related to wildlife trafficking between 2018-2020. In a recent threat analysis FinCEN said it is calling attention to wildlife trafficking due to its strong association with corruption and transnational criminal organizations, a need to enhance the reporting and analysis of related illicit financial transactions, and wildlife trafficking’s contribution to biodiversity loss, damage to fragile ecosystems and the increased likelihood of spreading zoonotic diseases. Read the threat analysis here.


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Free GBA Partner Webinar - Feb. 8 / 1:00-4:30 pm

Kickstart Your Bank’s CECL Adoption, With Help from Abrigo

Don't miss this chance to jump-start your 2023 adoption of the Financial Accounting Standard Board's CECL standard by taking part in Abrigo’s free, virtual workshop on Feb. 8 from 1-4:30 p.m. With an emphasis on the needs of community banks, Abrigo’s team will show how their proven implementation practices can be scaled specifically to meet the needs of smaller preparers. Please note, the sessions will be applicable and valuable for banks regardless of whether they are currently an Abrigo product. This event will also offer three free NASBA CPE credits. Topics to be covered include:

  • Techniques used by public institutions to address pandemic-era uncertainty

  • How to address the most common CECL implementation problems, such as lack of historical loss experience or unreliable historical data

  • How to use CECL models that are less reliant on historical, loan-level loss experience

  • How to implement a straightforward CECL qualitative framework

  • How to credibly identify peer institutions for use of external information

  • Potential hidden traps in the SCALE concept.

Click here to register.


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Boost Your Career with GBA Schools

The Georgia Banking School and GBA Compliance School both will be back in session May 1-6 in Athens. The Georgia Banking School Board and GBA Compliance School Board have made some tweaks to the curriculum that students are sure to enjoy. There’s no better way for a career-oriented banker to boost his or her career. So, here are some action items for getting enrolled:

  • CEO action – Identify emerging talent and allocate budget so you can have a representative at each school

  • HR officer action – Take a look at specific development plans to identify candidates

  • Alumni action – Recruit your teammates or colleagues at other banks by sharing how the programs helped your career

  • Banker action – Enroll early, you will be able to adjust registration if necessary based on public health restrictions or program changes.

Georgia Banking School details and enrollment access here.

GBA Compliance School: Details and enrollment access here.


With questions, contact Alison Moreau, 404.420.2034.


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Survey Report from GBA Partner StrategyCorps

Revenue Recession Realities – The Bankers’ Perspective

Some banking industry analysts say we are experiencing a revenue recession. Are you interested in what other bankers' thoughts are related to the challenges of the net margin squeeze, declining overdraft revenue, and cannibalized debit interchange revenue? GBA partner StrategyCorps recently surveyed hundreds of bankers to get their perception of the reality and severity of this revenue decline over the next 12 months, including insights on:

  • The reclassifying of over-estimated loan loss reserves as revenue as a viable way to generate revenue

  • The decline of overdraft-related fees due to market, regulatory, and/or political pressures

  • Specific ways financial institutions will respond to the pressures on overdraft fees.

Click here to download the survey results. Also remember, StrategyCorps' checking solutions can generate, new, recurring revenue for community banks of all sizes through modern, more engaging checking products to consumers. To find out more, contact Ryan Harbry,, 404.819.1438.


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2022 Sponsorship and Exhibit Opportunities Kit Available Now!

As your team plans your company’s marketing and event budget for 2022, there’s no better time to reserve your participation in GBA’s 2022 events valuable to your company. Click here to access the 2022 Sponsorship and Exhibit Opportunities Kit.


Menu of 2022 GBA events open to sponsorships:

  • Annual Signature Events: Annual Meeting and Leadership Conference

  • Annual Professional Development Conferences: Compliance; Financial Risk Management; Credit; HR; Security; Operations/Technology; Rural Development & Lending; and Women in Banking

  • Annual Schools: Georgia Banking School and GBA Compliance School

  • Seminars: Various

  • Webinars: Various

See the last page of the kit for event dates or visit our home page at to access our 2022 event calendar.


Ready to sign up? Complete the response form in the kit and submit it to Kathy Friestad.


Have questions? Our professional development team will be happy to discuss your 2022 involvement strategy so that your company gets maximum benefit from this important investment. Email GBA’s Kathy Friestad to request a call or meeting.


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Two New Seminars Set: IRA and Commercial Banking Basics

  • New! The IRA Merry-Go-Round Seminar - Feb 8-9, Middle Georgia State University, Macon
    Patrice Konarik, Sunwest Training Corp, is back with an intensive 2-day seminar that will teach you all you need to know about IRAs, including the latest updates! Each participant will receive the latest 275-page, IRA Training and Reference Manual - “The Red Book.” For all the details and to register, click here.


  • New! Breaking into Banking 101 Webinar - Feb. 23, Zoom Webinar (recording included w/ registration)
    Commercial banking can be intimidating because of its complexity and the risk-oriented nature of the work. Andy Keusal, Keusal Learning, teaches this course with a clear and thorough introduction to the key concepts, terminology, and processes involved in credit and lending. It doesn’t assume much prior knowledge of the topic, so it’s ideal for those in their first year in the industry. Learners will walk away with a clear understanding of their job and how their specific role fits into the bank’s overall profitability goals. Get all the details and register here.

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GBA 2022 Winter/Spring Conferences

Mark your calendars and save the date for the following 2022 winter and spring conferences!

  • Operations & Technology Conference - Wednesday, Feb. 23, through Friday, Feb. 25, at The DeSoto, Savannah. Registration now open!

  • HR Professionals Institute - Wednesday, March 23, through Friday, March 25, at the King & Prince, St. Simons.

  • Marketing Conference - Thursday, March 24 through Friday, March 25, at the King & Prince, St. Simons.

  • Bank Security Conference - Monday, April 11, through Wednesday, April 13, at the King & Prince, St. Simons.

  • Rural Development & Lending Conference - Thursday, May 19, through Friday, May 20, at the King & Prince, St. Simons.

With questions, contact GBA’s Alison Moreau.


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Webinar Subscription Packages

If your institution attends at least five webinars per year, a webinar subscription package is a no-brainer! Click here for more info.


How much does your financial institution spend on training? With a webinar subscription package from, we can help you greatly reduce that expense. With over 300 titles on our website, is your one stop shop for all your webinar needs!


The average financial institution spends thousands of dollars on every employee for training per year. We want to help you provide all the training your employees need at a fraction of that price. See our full calendar of webinars 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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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:


Covington - United Bank

Thomas Kephart, president of the bank’s Covington division, recently presented a check to Southern Heartland Arts, Inc., to support activities at their Visual Art Center including its annual invitational art exhibit and weekly “Paint Party,” a free and open art workshop hosted by professional artists.


Suwanee - Quantum National Bank

The bank recently teamed up with Sugarloaf Rotary Club (Tyler Phillips, Jody Campbell, Ginger Powell) and Suwanee Kiwanis Club (Margaret Fogarty, Sabarria Bevelle, Cathy Cason, Annie Valenty, Kevin O'Brien, CFP®, ChFC®) to collect almost 1,000 food and personal items for donations to North Gwinnett Co-op.


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Atlanta - Ameris Bank

The bank recently announced the retirement of Chief Administrative Officer Cindi Lewis, effective Dec. 31. Cindi has served on the GBA Human Resources Committee since 2005 and helped form GBA’s Women in Banking Committee, where she also served from 2018 to June of this year.


Cordele - Planters First Bank

The bank recently announced the retirement of Director of Human Resources Susan Wilson and Crisp/Dooly County Regional President Carol Arflin. Susan served on GBA’s Human Resources Committee from 2017 to this year and will retire on Dec. 31. Carol previously took part in a GBA senior lending officer peer group and retired on Dec. 15. The bank also recently announced the promotion of Eli Tinsley to bank CEO, Dan Duchnowski to Chief Banking Officer and Pamela Wheeler to EVP, Director of Enterprise Risk Management. Read more here.


Rome - Greater Community Bank

President and CEO David Lance was featured in CEO/CFO magazine in a Q&A about the bank. He highlighted the bank’s efforts to help customers with a significant PPP loan effort, as well as other areas of focus. He also shared details about an employee wellness program and outlined other reasons why the bank has been recognized as a great place to work. Read the interview here.


Valdosta - Ameris Bank

Will Moore has joined the bank as market president for the Valdosta area. Read more here.


Watkinsville - Oconee State Bank

Senior Vice President, Controller Janet Leach recently received the Operations Support Team Member of the Year award during the bank’s fourth quarter bank-wide meeting. Her photo with bank President and CEO Neil Stevens is below.



Lewis Wilson Arflin Tinsley Duchnowski



Wheeler Lance Moore Leach (right)



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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