Nov. 12, 2021  


Remembering Max Cleland

It wasn’t lost on many that former U.S. Senator Max Cleland died during the week Veterans Day was celebrated. Cleland was probably most known for being a triple amputee resulting from a grenade falling from a fellow soldier’s pack. But he will be most remembered for his unwavering support for those who served in uniform for our nation’s defense. If there is such a thing as a “Happy Warrior,” it was Max Cleland. He never let his disability affect his attitude. His constant smile, cheery signature thumbs up gesture, and willingness to stop and talk to anyone about anything made him the endearing person he was. His military service turned to public service first as a member of the Georgia State Senate. President Carter tapped him to be his Veterans Administration Administrator and he then went on to be elected Georgia’s Secretary of State. When Sen. Sam Nunn retired, Cleland was elected to serve in the seat that had a history of being held by military supporters going back to Sen. Richard Russell and others. He completed his public service as President Obama’s Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission. “Max was always a joy to be around. When we talked about issues, we had to first talk about people he knew and wanted updates on. He was a great supporter of our industry because he saw the good we did for the individuals and communities we served. He always wanted to make sure veterans were getting their benefits and active-duty service members had access to banking services under the special rules that applied to them. He was certainly one of a kind and we are all better because of his service,” said Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO. Our thanks to Sen. Cleland as well as to all our bankers and other members who served our state and nation in uniform.


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Financial Risk Management Conference a Big Hit

A strong crowd of Member CFOs and finance teams gathered last week in Atlanta for the annual GBA Financial Risk Management Conference. The agenda and venue were scored as home runs, as we were in the thick of the Atlanta Braves World Series victory celebration festivities at the Omni Hotel at the Battery Atlanta. Asset/Liability Committee Chair Jay Torbert, Southeastern Bank, led the meeting Thursday, which began with an industry and advocacy overview from GBA’s Joe Brannen, and Jonathan Hightower of Fenimore Kay Harrison followed with a look at capital planning strategies. Curtis Whitaker of FHN Financial led a liquidity/investment strategy panel discussion featuring Tom Fitzgerald of SouthState BankJoe Larizza of Raymond JamesHenry Torres of Cadence Bank, and Jay Torbert. Attendees also got an in-depth accounting update from Ron Mitchell of Mauldin & Jenkins. The day closed out with a look at loan pricing trends and tips for CFOs to add value to the lending function by SouthState Bank’s Chris Nichols. We had to adjust Friday’s schedule, as the Braves’ victory celebration threw us a curveball with road closures around the conference hotel. Committee Vice Chair Donna Wade, First National Bank of Decatur Co., hosted Friday’s early session, with Chris Low of FHN Financial sharing his economic forecast before we adjourned early. Platinum Sponsors were Raymond James, The Baker Group and Truist. Gold Sponsors were Carr, Riggs & Ingram, FHLBank Atlanta, Fifth Third Securities, PFM, ServisFirst Bank, First National Bankers Bank and SouthState Bank’s Correspondent Division. Exhibitors were IntraFi Network and S&P Global Market Intelligence. See photos from the conference here.



We’ve scheduled virtual versions of the two sessions we had to postpone. Sessions will be open to all GBA members.

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Georgia Banks Among Top Banks to Work For

Congratulations to the leadership and teams at several GBA member banks that have been named among the best banks to work for by American Banker. Atlantic Capital Bank, Atlanta, and Greater Community Bank, Rome, are Georgia-based members recognized. Members recognized that are based elsewhere but with a Georgia presence include Capital City Bank, Tallahassee, FL., and United Community Bank, Greenville, S.C. GBA Associate Members First National Bankers Bank, Baton Rouge, LA, and TIB – The Independent Bankers Bank, Farmers Branch, TX., also are among those recognized. Read the full list and short profiles here.


Doug Williams,
Atlantic Capital

David Lance,
Community Bank

Bill Smith,
Capital City Bank

Lynn Harton,
Community Bank

First National
Bankers Bank




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Brannen, Polene and

Advocacy in Action

Johns Creek Rotary Gets Banking Update

GBA was in the community this week speaking to the Johns Creek Rotary Club about the banking industry. Joe Brannen was the guest of retired SunTrust (now Truist) banker Jim Rountree, and Renasant Bank’s Abby Polene is the club president. Brannen shared hyper-local details about PPP lending and the banking climate in Johns Creek. He especially focused on how bankers are serving communities like theirs that are growing quickly and diversifying. In the last decade, deposits in the market more than doubled and the local population grew significantly, which is presenting opportunities for banks. He noted how the Asian population in the area grew by 6.5% as a percent of total population, and the city is home to one of Georgia’s newest banks, Loyal Trust Bank. GBA often speaks to banker and business groups to share the story about banking beyond the headlines. Contact David Oliver, 404.402.2036, with questions.


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GBA Member Profile

Family-Owned Business, The Roundabout Road to Banking and Youth Sports with Joe Collins

Joe Collins’ first job experience was at his parents’ wholesale florist business in Augusta. “With it being a family-owned business, I quickly realized you needed to be detail-oriented, customer friendly and able to multi-task,” said Collins, SouthState Bank senior vice president, Capital Markets. After graduating from the University of Georgia with his degree in accounting, the Group 5 representative on GBA’s Asset/Liability Committee worked for the CPA firm Evans, Porter, Bryan & Co., where he got his introduction to the banking industry through clientele. “It was there that I came to appreciate the value and importance of banking,” he said. An opportunity came up with a client, Georgia Bankers Bank, and he made the transition to banking in 1993, starting out as an internal auditor and eventually moving into the capital markets division. Collins shares about the professional accomplishments he’s most proud of, the colleague who helped shape his career and involvement in youth sports programs in the latest GBA Member Profile.


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CEO/Leader Updates

Stablecoins, Infrastructure Funding, Protecting Older Clients and Retirement Transition Resource

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

  • Stablecoins: We shared a report about stablecoins, which are typically backed by a government with the attendant expectation they can be redeemed upon request. The report, issued in conjunction with the FDIC and OCC, identified risks and regulatory action that should be taken to address vulnerabilities and mitigate risk.



  • Serving Older Clients: There’s a benchmarking report from the ABA Foundation from an extensive survey of the industry on how banks are serving and protecting the assets of older clients. Most banks are offering services and programs favorable to older customers. Georgia was one of the original states piloting AARP’s BankSafe program and Georgia was one of the first states to enact an elder fraud statute.


  • Medicare: Members covered by GBA Insurance Trust plans have access to a free resource that’s proven helpful to some who were faced with questions about late-career decisions, like Medicare. Last year, we partnered with a local company, Transitions Benefit Group, to help bankers and caregivers make decisions that are right for their situation.

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


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PPP Review and Appeals Process Update

We got some intel this week from a call with SBA officials and other banking trade associations about the PPP review and appeals process. Highlights are:

  • SBA is now manually reviewing every forgiveness decision in which the lender denied forgiveness in full (i.e., $0 was forgiven). In light of the SBA manual review, the borrower does not have the right to request review of the forgiveness decision, as that review will have already taken place. SBA will cease sending automated Notice of Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Payment of $0, as these notices are not necessary in light of SBA’s manual review of $0 forgiveness decisions.


  • If the borrower received partial forgiveness and would like SBA to review the decision, the borrower needs to request SBA review. SBA is preparing a Procedural Notice that will address these circumstances.


  • SBA anticipates issuing affirmative loan review decisions, in place of any automated letters it currently sends, so that lenders know that the loan review process is complete.

We’ll share more details as they become available. With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.


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2021 BankPAC Campaign Update

The 2021 BankPAC Campaign continues to make great progress, and now is the time to contribute to the StatePAC and FedPAC if you have not done so yet. You’ll find contribution forms on our BankPAC webpage for directions and suggested giving amounts. You can even make your personal FedPAC contribution online. The BankPAC Board of Directors is pleased to see the progress so far and welcomes your participation. Thanks to the following banks whose eligible employees, officers and directors recently made a contribution to the GBA FedPAC.

  • Legacy State Bank, Loganville, Bill Walker, President & CEO

  • One South Bank, Blakely, Kim Wilson, President & CEO

  • The Piedmont Bank, Peachtree Corners, Monty Watson, Chairman & CEO

  • United Bank, Zebulon, Jim Edwards, CEO

With questions, please contact GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler, 404.372.7893.


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Last Chance to Register!

Mike Allen to Lead Back-to-Back Lending Training in Two Weeks

Cadence Bank EVP, Director of Real Estate Credit Risk Mike Allen, a high-demand speaker, will present back-to-back lending training Nov. 16-17 in Macon. Click the links below for more information and to register.


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Registration Open!

Compliance School – Year 2: Strategic Compliance Management

Compliance School – Year 2: Strategic Compliance Management registration is open and will take place in Athens from May 1-6, 2022. Strategic Compliance Management builds on the student's basic foundation by providing more practical applications for overseeing individual lending, deposit and operational regulations as well as for your overall compliance management program. The foundation has been inspected, maintained, and determined to be solid; now what do you do? In the second year of compliance school, we will demonstrate how to maintain an on-going, proactive Compliance Management Program and provide additional tools to put in your toolbox that will help to protect against the potential storms. These survival tools are not always found in the regulation, but rather in the resources employed to carry out the tasks. You do not want to miss the opportunity to train under this faculty comprised of experienced bank compliance officers, regulatory officials, attorneys and many other subject matter experts. Click here to learn more and register.


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IRS Announces Cost of Living Adjustments for 2022

The IRS recently announced the Cost of Living Adjustments for 2022, including retirement plan limit updates. The maximum annual participant deferral limit for a 401(k) plan will increase to $20,500. The catch-up contribution limit for participants over age 50 will remain at $6,500. Click here to see other retirement plan limits for 2022. We want to help you and your team members prepare for a financially stable retirement. GBA Retirement Services, Inc., an affiliate of 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, 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! Please 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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The Hyatt Regency
Atlanta Downtown

Registration Opening Soon – 2022 Legislative and Economic Forum & Reception

Make plans now to join the GBA Board of DirectorsPublic Affairs Committee and BankPAC Board on Wednesday, Jan. 12, as they host GBA’s annual Legislative and Economic Forum, followed by GBA’s annual Legislative Reception honoring members of the General Assembly, Constitutional Officers, statewide Judiciary and other dignitaries. The forum will be from 3-6 p.m. followed by the reception from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Downtown. Who should attend? All member bankers, Associate Members or Bank Counsel Section members with management, finance, business development or government relations-related responsibilities or interests are encouraged to attend. Registration will open soon, and options will include Forum & Reception ($185); Forum Only ($75); and Reception Only ($145). We will have a small block of rooms at the Hyatt for $212++/night and the room block will open soon – watch your email for an announcement. New this year: Sponsorships are available for this event!  Click here for details and to reserve your sponsorship. Questions? Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad.


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Vaccine Mandate Webinar, Nov. 29 / 2:30 – 4 p.m.

Testing and Vaccination Mandates of the Banking Industry - COVID Executive Order

OSHA released its Emergency Temporary Standard on Nov. 4, which includes significant obligations for Banks with 100 or more employees. The Administration also clarified the scope and timing of mandated vaccinations under the Biden COVID Executive Order, which could apply more broadly. The required weekly COVID testing and the required vaccination status, generally become effective on Jan. 4, 2022. However, the other obligations in the OSHA Standard, become effective on Dec. 5. Join Steve Greene with GBA partner Employment Law Compliance on Nov. 29 for a closer look at the ETS. Highlights will include:

  • New Obligations effective December 5, 2021 explained

  • New Obligations effective January 4, 2022 explained

  • Discuss and review model Bank COVID-19 vaccination policy

  • Discuss and review Vaccination Status Survey form

  • Discuss and review COVID-19 Posting for Employees

  • Record Retention Obligations

  • Sample Employee Communication

Click here to register.


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Reserve Your Company’s 2022 Sponsorship and Exhibit Opportunities

Head’s up, GBA Associate Members, Bank Counsel members and Bank Accountant Section members! As you and your teams plan marketing and event budgets for 2022, take advantage of the opportunity to confirm your participation in GBA’s 2022 events early!  Everything you need to know is included in our 2022 sponsorship and exhibit opportunities kit.  The kit covers all our major programs, including: 

  • Annual Signature Events: Legislative and Economic Forum & Reception; 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 and Webinars throughout the year

If you’re ready to sign up, return the completed response form to Kathy Friestad,  In addition, 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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Overdraft Criticism Doesn’t Have to be Alarming

By: Cheryl Lawson, Executive Vice President of Compliance Review for JMFA

Determining the right approach for supporting customers who occasionally come up against liquidity needs can be complicated given the current environment of regulatory speculation. News coverage of how some banks are modifying their marketing messages to change the perception of their overdraft program only adds further complexity. But, all the noise about what regulatory and political pressure might be applied is not an obstacle—it is an opportunity for you to ensure you’re serving your customers well. Regardless of any new criticism, there will always be hot-button issues in our industry. Lending is another heavily regulated activity. Banks haven’t eliminated loans when lending practices have been under fire because lending serves a critical need for consumers. And so does your overdraft program. Click here for suggestions from GBA partner JMFA about the right way to offer overdraft to your customers. With questions, please contact JMFA’s Waid Thompson at 504.812.8099 or


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Marketing Resource

Holiday Promotions and Communications to Create Engagement

The most wonderful time of year is drawing near and now is the time to start your holiday marketing planning. GBA Associate Member Onovative has some ideas to share about how to leverage holiday promotions and communications to boost account holder engagement, drive product adoption and increase fee and interest income with minimal time and effort. Discover four product campaign promotions to execute this holiday season and download free holiday direct mail and social media templates to get started on your holiday marketing activities.


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Mark Your Calendars!

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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Join live or purchase a recording!

Upcoming Webinars from National Experts

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.

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:


Greenville, S.C. - United Community Bank

Throughout the week of Nov. 8, leading up to Veterans Day on Nov. 11, bank team members have been encouraged to take part in activities in their own communities including: organizing collection drives for organizations that provide shelter for homeless vets; assembling and delivering care packages for veterans, military spouses and families; and writing thank you cards to veterans. The company is also making donations to local organizations serving veterans, like the recent $5,000 gift made to support efforts to establish a Fisher House near William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, S.C. An additional $25,000 will be distributed to organizations throughout the footprint that benefit veterans or their families, such as local chapters of the Wounded Warrior Project.


Marietta - Fifth Third Bank

The bank last week announced $130,000 in technology grants to schools and nonprofit organizations that have active engagement with the Bank’s new digital Young Bankers Club program, its signature financial education program for fifth-grade students. Lockheed Elementary School in Marietta was the recipient of one of 13 technology grants of $10,000. Read more here.


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Albany - AB&T

Community Capital Bancshares, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, AB&T, on Nov. 1 announced an upcoming leadership transition at the start of 2022. As outlined in the succession plan adopted by the bank’s Board of Directors in December 2018, Perry Revell will become Chief Executive Officer and Matt Rushton will become president on Jan. 1, 2022. In addition, the board elected Revell and Rushton to the bank’s Board of Directors, also effective Jan. 1. As part of this transition, current Chairman, President and CEO Luke Flatt, who is GBA’s current chairman, will remain Chairman of the Board and will continue to maintain an office at the bank following the transition date. Read more here.


Atlanta - Bank of America

Atlanta market president Wendy Stewart has been promoted to Global President of Commercial Banking and will be part of the company’s senior management team. Al McRae, a Dublin native, has been named Atlanta market president.


Atlanta/Buford - Georgia Banking Company and Peoples BankTrust

Georgia Banking Company, Inc. and Peoples BankTrust, Inc. jointly announced on Nov. 10 the signing of a definitive agreement pursuant to which Peoples will merge with and into GBC in a cash and stock transaction with an aggregate value of approximately $58 million. Read more here.


Camilla - Planters & Citizens Bank

Vice President, Commercial and Ag Lending David Sullivan retired on Nov. 10 after 17 years with the bank. You can send him a note here.


Cordele - Planters First Bank

Our sympathies to the family, friends and former colleagues of retired bank President, CEO and Chairman Bobby Shepard, who died Nov. 5. Read more here.


Rome - River City Bank

The bank this week announced the opening of a new branch in Blairsville at 206 Highway 515. The location is expected to open in 2022.


Watkinsville - Oconee State Bank

Marissa Jordan has joined the bank as vice president, SBA portfolio manager.


Atlanta - FDIC

Regional Director John Henrie has announced he will retire from Federal service on Nov. 30. Until an announcement is made about his successor, Deputy Regional Director (DCP) Phyllis Patton and Deputy Regional Director (RMS) Tim Rich will be available to assist with any needs from the regional office.


Perry - Georgia General Assembly

Our sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of former state Senator Ross Tolleson, who died Nov. 5. Tolleson began his political career in 1978 as an intern for U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. He was elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2002 representing Georgia’s 18th Senate District (which later became the 20th Senate District), and he served through November 2015. Tolleson served as Chairman of the Georgia Senate Committee for Natural Resources and the Environment for 11 years. He was Vice-Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and served on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was a member of the legislative committee that provided oversight to the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority, and he also served on the Jekyll Island State Park Authority Oversight Committee. Read more here.


Washington, D.C. - Federal Reserve

Randal Quarles resigned Monday as a member of the Federal Reserve Board, effective at the end of December. He served as the Board's first Vice Chair for Supervision and has been a member of the Board since Oct. 13, 2017. Read more here.



Revell Rushton Flatt Stewart McRae Shepard



River City Bank Jordan Henrie Tolleson Quarles



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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