May 13, 2022 

Students Shine in Banking and Compliance Schools

GBA’s two advanced bank management schools wrapped up in Athens last week with lots to celebrate. One hundred and thirty four bankers participated in the school session, with 35 bankers earning their Georgia Banking School diplomas and 19 compliance officers graduating by completing the year-two advanced compliance program. GBA Chairman Luke Flatt, AB&T, gave a commencement address to a joint session honoring the graduates of both schools. “As we celebrate today, I want to be sure to recognize that being a part of the Georgia Banking School and GBA Compliance School represents a huge investment you have made in being the best banker possible as a way to serve others. You’ve worked hard. And as with any successful investment, there is a payoff that enriches the investor. By taking part in and graduating from these schools, you have strengthened the entire community of Georgia banking professionals,” he said.


List of Georgia Banking School Graduates

List of GBA Compliance School Graduates

See photos from the schools on the GBA Facebook page here.


Georgia Banking School Honors

Congratulations to Ryan Martin of Synovus Bank for earning this year’s Graduate of Distinction honor. As Graduate of Distinction, Martin receives a first-year scholarship to attend the Graduate School of Banking at LSU next year. Congratulations also to honors graduates Susan Andrews, Pinnacle Bank; Nicholas Blume, Queensborough National Bank & Trust Co.; Kathryn Rott, StouthState Bank; and Taylor Watson, The Piedmont Bank; who all finished in the top 10% of the class.


Bank Executive Simulation Standouts

The major coursework third-year students must complete is the Bank Executive simulation in which teams of students compete in leading fictional banks through a variety of strategic scenarios and changing market conditions. It’s a big honor to be the top team. This year’s winning team, named Endurance Bank, was comprised of Janet Dean, Synovus Bank; Rolondo Dixon, American Pride Bank; Bryan Hutto, Morris Bank; Zach Lathan, Northeast Georgia Bank; Jeremy Myers, First Bank of Coastal Georgia; and Kara Rogers, The Citizens National Bank of Quitman.


Compliance School Case Study Winners

Compliance School students also divided into teams for some competitive action by mapping out the best approach to manage through a case study testing their compliance chops. The winning team, Team Nemo, was comprised of Flor De Maria Acosta, First American Bank & Trust Company; April Floyd, Great Oaks Bank; Sara Heath, Bank of Dawson; Tracy Holland, Citizens Bank & Trust; and Holly Mathis, Queensborough National Bank and Trust Co.



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Advocacy in Action

GBA Speaks Up Against Interchange Price Controls

GBA was among the state bankers associations that signed on to a recent letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee opposing additional price controls on debit card interchange rates. It’s been clear that merchants have not dropped their prices to pass on savings to consumers as promised when the Durbin Amendment was first enacted. “While community banks and credit unions are supposedly exempt from the Durbin Amendments cap on interchange fees, their interchange revenue has decreased significantly since enactment. More than a decade later, it is clear that the Durbin Amendment has hurt consumers, small businesses, and financial institutions by reducing choice, increasing costs, and reducing access to credit. Congress should not expand its scope,” the letter says. The letter was sent to the committee members in advance of a recent hearing. Read the letter here.


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Keep up Advocacy Opposing CU Charter Enhancement

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee, which includes Georgia’s Rep. David Scott (D-GA13), Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA11), and Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA5), next week will consider a bill to allow credit unions to expand their membership and business lending capacity. Among the concerns we have with the bill is that it lacks a requirement for credit unions to prove their service to underserved communities. Please reach out to Reps. Scott, Loudermilk and Williams, as well as your member of Congress if you’re not represented by one of these three, to voice your opposition to the bill. Let them know here. With questions, contact Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027, or Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.






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Cook, Jefferson Confirmed to Fed Posts

The U.S. Senate this week confirmed Georgia native Lisa Cook and also Philip Jefferson to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Cook is from Milledgeville, and is an economics professor at Michigan State University. The votes were interesting. Cook’s confirmation came on a 51-50 party-line vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote. Jefferson, an economist and administrator at Davidson College, received bipartisan support, as his confirmation approval vote was 91 to 7.





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Banker-Led Retirement Services Board Meets

One key resource for GBA members is GBA Retirement Services. The banker-led board met this week as part of its quarterly due diligence of the Retirement Trust. It is notable that 64% 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%. In addition 33% of participants in the Master Trust are contributing at a contribution level of 7% or higher to their 401(k) plan, and 21% are contributing over 10% of their compensation to their 401(k) plan. While markets are extremely volatile this year, American Trust continues to outperform comparative benchmarks and participants benefit from asset allocation assistance through a Managed Account Solution called the UnfiedPlan. Chuck Copeland, president and CEO, First National Bank of Griffin, chairs the GBA Retirement Services board. Employees at 40% of our state’s banks participate in GBA Retirement Services plans. For information on GBA Retirement Services, contact Mandy Richards, director of Retirement Services, at 404.420.2025.


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Leader Updates

EIDL Closing, DOR Delinquent Taxpayer Update, Zelle Fraud and More

Our series of regular email updates to CEOs, committee members and other key leaders continued this week. Topics included:

  • EIDL Closing Down: A reminder that SBA is shutting down its EIDL portal May 16. Customers should download documents before then.


  • DOR Delinquent Taxpayer Update: No news yet from the Department of Revenue related to our suggestions about changes we’ve requested to the Memorandum of Understanding you’ve been asked to sign. We still recommend you not sign the MOU just yet.


  • Zelle Fraud: We shared resources related to understanding consumer and bank liability for transactions that consumers are tricked into making.


  • Bank Robberies Down: An FBI report we shared shows bank robberies declined in 2020, the most current data available. We also included resources helpful to preventing ATM thefts, which are up.

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


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GBA Member Profile

Beating the Heat with Keith Beckham

Persons Banking Company Corporate President Keith Beckham got his first job experience in junior high and high school working for his dad’s asphalt paving and grading business. He learned a lot from the team about what it means to have a good work ethic as well as the kind of career he didn’t want. “Asphalt comes out of the plant around 375 degrees F and is laid at about 250 degrees F. Walking behind the paving machine next to hot asphalt on a South Georgia August afternoon was when I knew I wanted an office job with air conditioning as a career.” The At Large representative on GBA’s Agriculture Committee shares about the career advice he has relied on most, his adventurous hobbies, the importance of life insurance and more in the latest GBA Member Profile.


Related: GBA’s Rural Development and Lending Conference is May 19-20 at the King and Prince on St. Simons. Get more details and register here.


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Market Intel to be Center Stage at Leadership Conference

Emerging leaders attending GBA’s Leadership Conference July 11-13 will get a deep dive look into a variety of economic and market conditions affecting banks. The state’s Fiscal Economist, Jeffrey Dorfman, will give an economic update, and Nathan Stovall of S&P Global Market Intelligence will share the latest data and trends about how interest rates, inflation and other market factors are affecting bank performance. Get more details and register for the GBA Leadership Conference here.


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Compensation Survey

Discount for Data Participation

Join your peer banks in submitting data for this year’s Georgia Banking Compensation Survey to get a deep discount on the survey’s results. The deadline is May 27 for data submission. Attract, motivate and retain the best talent with access to the metrics and insight you need to create a well-designed compensation program. Get more details here. Contact GBA’s David Oliver at or Pearl Meyer’s Rhonda Snyder at to participate.


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Annual Meeting Breakout Sessions Set

We’ve locked in two great breakout sessions to round out the programming for this year’s annual meeting. One session, The Hunt for Revenue Replacement, will feature Ryan Harbry of StrategyCorps. Harbry will focus on ideas for banks looking to diversify their non-interest income to include customer-friendly revenue streams through the use of subscription based pricing and other techniques that add value. In the other session, Stewart Thigpen and Brad Washburn of Steve H. Powell & Co. will share an overview of credit conditions and compliance exam issues throughout the state. See the full agenda, get all the details and register for the 130th GBA Annual Meeting here.






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GBA Partner BankTalentHQ is Growing! Now the Chosen Jobs Platform for the ABA and 32 State Bankers Associations

We are pleased to announce that GBA Partner BankTalentHQ is now the chosen platform for banking jobs for the American Bankers Association. This partnership with ABA, in addition to the endorsements of the GBA and 32 more state bankers associations, proves that BankTalentHQ is the most unique, innovative career platform in the banking industry. The new partnership between the ABA and BankTalentHQ will open doors by attracting potential employees, increasing awareness about BankTalentHQ, and promoting opportunities in the banking industry. BankTalentHQ will also be working closely with the ABA to promote and grow the ABA’s “Find Your Future Career in Banking” initiative. Click here to learn more.


We are so excited to see BankTalentHQ and our partnership with this career platform continue to grow and develop. If you have any specific questions or want to learn more about BankTalentHQ, please reach out to Brian Hoffman at or visit



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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - A Cure for the Invisible Website

By Neal Reynolds, president,

Your time is valuable. Therefore, this isn’t intended to be a comprehensive course on SEO. Instead, this overview is designed to, hopefully, inspire you to investigate the possibilities of SEO further and use it to grow your customer base. To that end, we’ll briefly discuss the basics of SEO best practices. While there are several, common SEO practices, for purposes of this blog, let’s talk about content, the use of keywords and link-building, which are fairly simple, straightforward practice that can be implemented quickly and easily. Click here to read more from Reynolds’ latest blog post and visit for more great marketing ideas.


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GBA Associate Member OakNorth

Top 10 Takeaways from Climate Change Risks, Regulations, and Rewards

Large banks have begun to face some investor and regulatory pressures to consider new, wide-reaching processes and systems to support a robust climate change assessment framework. These changes can potentially stretch across a bank’s entire loan book, from scenario analysis risk management to lending opportunities. This sentiment is being echoed by some regulators issuing principles for climate-related financial risk management. Again, while these efforts are currently limited to large banks, examiners have cautioned midsize and community banks to “use the time wisely.” So, what does this mean for your bank? Check out a recent blog post from GBA Associate Member OakNorth to see their Top 10 Take-aways from Climate Change Risks, Regulations, and Rewards. With questions, please contact George Garnett at, or 347.773.6441.


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Vendor Management, Reg. Z, Appraisals, BSA Tips

Here’s a sampling of upcoming webinars.

See the full slate of upcoming webinars here.


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Recruit, Retain and Develop the Best Bankers with GBA Career Solutions


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 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’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:


Cordele - Planters First Bank

Bank team members recently volunteered to pick up trash and debris around the block from its Cordele Banking Center and Enterprise Support Center and a portion of Greer Street from 16th Ave. to 24th Ave.



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Atlanta - Georgia Primary Bank

Primary Bancshares Corporation, the parent company of Georgia Primary Bank, recently announced that Kristin Adams has been elected to its Board of Directors. Read more here.


Atlanta - Truist

Truist Financial Corporation recently announced Katie Saez has been named Georgia regional president. Saez succeeds Jenna Kelly, who will now serve in a new role as group regional president for Truist. Read more here.


Bainbridge - First Port City Bank

Cassie Cox has been promoted to assistant vice president and loan administrator.


Brunswick/St. Simons - the former Coastal Bank of Georgia

Our sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of former Rep. Willou Smith, who died this week. Smith was one of the few Republicans at the time elected to serve in the General Assembly and was an advisory director of the Coastal Bank of Georgia, now Synovus Bank. Read more here.


Chatsworth - First National Community Bank

Jerry Chatman has been appointed senior vice president and market president for the bank’s Calhoun and Adairsville markets. The bank also welcomed Jason Faulkner as vice president and commercial lender for the Cobb and Paulding County markets. Read more here.


Elberton - Pinnacle Bank

Rhonda Dellinger has joined the bank as mortgage sales team leader. Read more here.


Fitzgerald - Colony Bank

Derek Shelnutt has been promoted to the newly created position of senior vice president, chief accounting officer. Read more here.


Savannah - Great Oaks Bank

Matthew Ambrosy has joined the bank as banking officer, portfolio manager. Read more here.


Suwanee - Quantum National Bank

Azhar Farooqui has joined the bank’s lending team as an SBA lender. Read more here. Eugene James has joined the bank’s lending team as a construction lender. Read more here.


Tifton - Synovus

Bryan Williams has joined the bank as Tifton market president. Read more here.


Vidalia - Altamaha Bank and Trust

Tommie Williams has been elected to the bank’s board of directors. Read more here.


Watkinsville - Oconee State Bank

The bank has been presented with the "Thank God It’s Monday!® Internal Culture" 2022 Banky Award by the Institute of Extraordinary Banking recognizing extraordinary community banks throughout the country.


Atlanta - Georgia Bankers Association

Our sympathies to the family and friends of Edith Lindsey, who died last week just shy of her 101st birthday. Edith was the widow of Frank Lindsey, who served as GBA’s president and CEO from 1960 to 1980. Read more here.



Adams Saez Kelly Cox Chatman Faulkner



Dellinger Shelnutt Ambrosy Farooqui James Bryan Williams Tommie Williams



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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