Sept. 30, 2022

Trio of Conferences Pack a Punch with Programming

With lots of recent economic and industry news of note, it was a great time for our member bank CEOs and presidents, bank lawyers and bank accountants to gather for their trio of annual conferences this week. Greg Eiford, TC Federal Bank, Thomasville, chairs the GBA Community Bankers Committee that planned the President & CEO Conference. The general sessions kicked off Monday with an overview of bank regulatory and advocacy issues with the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance’s Bo Fears and GBA Sr. VP of Government Relations Elizabeth Chandler. That led into an in-depth look at the economy with FHN Financial’s Chris Low. Based on his forecast, the economy is likely in for a rough ride over the next several quarters as the Fed grapples with controlling inflation. Michael Bull of Bull Realty followed with a look at commercial real estate trends, and we wrapped up the first day by having a conversation with TJ Callaway, founder of the Onward Reserve men’s clothing and lifestyle brand. Callaway, from Thomasville, is the son of a banker, and he shared the story of his Georgia-based company, business and banking lessons from his dad and how he strives to lead through the embodiment of the company motto, to “Live Authentically.” Monday’s Bank Accountant session, led by Bank Accountant Board Chair Doug Mims of Carr, Riggs & Ingram, touched on CECL updates, changes to accounting for troubled debt restructurings (TDRs), handling debt securities as rates are changing bond pricing, and FDICIA transition issues. The Bank Counsel Conference session for the day was an overview of case law updates presented by Alison LaBruyere and Kristin Bryan of the Squire Patton Boggs law firm. Tuesday’s program began with an in-depth outlook on Georgia’s workforce by Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark. A banker panel followed, discussing important asset liability management trends. Everyone is grappling with the effects of rising rates in their securities portfolios and figuring out deposit pricing strategies. Featured peer bankers were David Voyles of Pinnacle Bank, Jay Torbert of Southeastern Bank and Tom Redding of United Bank, and the panel was moderated by Chris Lomas of Truist Securities. The conference closed with a look at lessons learned from a significant cybersecurity incident in a riveting discussion between United Bank’s Jaye Eubanks and Queensborough Bank & Trust’s Kim Kirk. The Bank Counsel Conference session Tuesday was an overview of the most pressing legal issues for banks these days. Bank Counsel Chair Melinda Davis Lux of United Community Bank led the discussion, which also featured Elizabeth Donaldson of the Nelson Mullins firm, Corrie Hall of James Bates Brannan Groover and Crystal Huffman of Fenimore Kay Harrison. Some of the topics in their session touched on CRA issues, overdraft regulations and shifting bank policies, and M&A legal trends. See photos of the conference here. Thanks to our sponsors this year: Carr, Riggs & Ingram, Crowe, EBS, Elliott Davis, FHLB Atlanta, FORVIS, James Bates Brannan Groover, Mauldin & Jenkins, McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks, & Co., Nichols, Cauley & Associates, ServisFirst Bank, Symphona, Troutman Pepper, and Warren Averett CPAs & Advisors. With questions, contact Kathy Friestad.



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Our association is fortunate to have strong member leadership guiding its priorities and activities on behalf of the entire membership. In the past two weeks we’ve had more than 40 volunteer member bankers convening for quarterly board meetings of directors for the association and its two primary affiliates, GBA Insurance Trust and GBA Retirement Services. The GBA board, led by Chairman Rhodes McLanahan, First American Bank & Trust Company, met earlier this week. In addition to reviewing association finances and other general governance responsibilities, the board spent time covering member feedback about educational and service needs as well as some key strategic advocacy issues. Topics included potential legislation related to environmental, social, and governance issues, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans and court-suggested cleanup legislation related to security deeds in bankruptcy cases. There was also discussion about the association’s position on credit union purchases of banks. The GBA Insurance Trust, Inc. Board is chaired by Rick Whaley, Citizens Bank of Americus. Much of their meeting was devoted to reviewing claims experience, looking at ways to help members save money with the cost of their drug benefit, and adopting a budget for 2023. Whaley communicated directly this week with the leadership of those covered by the Trust about the pricing for next year’s plan coverage. Although health care costs continue to rise, those participating with the Trust enjoy a 9.7% cost advantage compared to those covered by comparable plans offered to employees of other financial services companies and a 13.3% cost advantage compared to those covered by comparable plans by those working in all other industries. The Board for the Trust’s wholly owned subsidiary, Paragon Benefits, Inc., also met last week. Chaired by Jackson McConnell, Pinnacle Bank, Elberton, the Board received staff reports on the new clinical team coming in-house Oct. 1. They also reviewed the early success being shown from the predictive modeling custom software developed to identify health risks earlier in the process to help produce a more favorable outcome for those facing significant health challenges. The GBA Retirement Services, Inc. Board is chaired by Chuck Copeland, First National Bank, Griffin. The Board completed due diligence comparing the current service providers for the Trust with others offering similar services. They also reviewed the retirement readiness of those covered by the Trust and were pleased to see that 58% of those covered were on track to have in savings an amount that would produce income approximating 70% of their final salary. The national average is only around 25%. Continued growth of the number of plans administered by the Trust remains strong which will allow plan administration fees to be lower next year. Be looking for more information about that shortly.


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FHLB-Atlanta Announces Director Election Results

Congratulations to Rick Whaley, president and CEO of the Citizens Bank of Americus, for being re-elected by the shareholder members to another term as a director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. Whaley currently serves as chair of the bank’s board. A previous past GBA chairman, Whaley also serves as chair of the GBA Insurance Trust, Inc. Elected as an independent director is Kathleen C. McKinney, Senior Counsel, Public Finance, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., Greenville, S.C. Florida shareholder members elected Eduardo (Eddy) Arriola, Chairman & CEO, Apollo Bank, Miami, FL, and Maryland shareholder members elected Kim C. Liddell, Director, BayVanguard Bank, Baltimore, MD. Each of the directors-elect will serve four-year terms beginning January 1, 2023.


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Strategic Partners and Associate Members!

Budget and Sign Up Now for 2023 Sponsorship and Exhibit Opportunities

Don’t forget to include monies in your budget for supporting GBA’s 2023 programs and events. Click here to review our 2023 Sponsorship and Exhibitor Kit. Everything you need to know is in this kit, including a fillable PDF response form to complete and return to reserve your involvement for next year’s events. Not sure where to target your investment? As always, we will be happy to discuss details with you to help you decide which opportunities best suit your needs. Email Kathy Friestad to schedule a call. In addition to participating through sponsorship and/or exhibiting, keep the following additional two opportunities in mind as you strategize for 2023:

  • Be There! Make sure a representative from your company is at the GBA event(s) your company is supporting. Making connections and building relationships at GBA events is priceless! Event registration is not included in sponsorship or exhibit packages. Watch your GBA E-Bulletin or other communications for news about registration, then you’ll find a Register Now link on any page of the conference/event websites.

  • Propose Speaker and/or Session Content: If you or your company is interested in being considered for presenting on trends, issues or best practices in your area of expertise, please submit a proposal and we’ll share it with the banker-led committees planning the programs. Sessions run 50-60 minutes and content must be educational as opposed to promoting specific company products or services. Include the following information in your proposal: Session topic and title; speaker info; brief session description; any additional details, video links or other supporting materials. Submit to Kathy Friestad and David Oliver.

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Welcome GBA’s Newest Associate Member PYA, P.C.

GBA Associate Membership is offered to individuals and organizations that want to do more business with banks as clients. These members also provide invaluable support to GBA’s activities and programs throughout the year through attendance, sponsorships, exhibits and shared expertise. Be sure to get to know them and thank them for their support of GBA. You can get information about any of GBA’s Associate Members by using the Associate Member search function on our website. For additional information, contact Bo Brannen at, or 404.420.2014.


This quarter, we are pleased to welcome the Knoxville, TN-based CPA firm PYA, P.C. to the GBA.


Knoxville, TN

Ms. Mimi Grachek,


PYA, P.C. provides internal audit, regulatory compliance testing (A-Z), BSA, loan review, external audit, loan review, tax advisory, valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and other advisory services. Nationally recognized and consistently ranked among INSIDE Public Accounting's Top 100 largest accounting firms, PYA specializes in serving community banks and other financial institutions.

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South Georgia Community Bank Symposium - Oct. 13

Strategy, Regulatory Outlook, Ag Banking and Local Economy Sessions Slated

Sign up today for the South Georgia Community Bank Symposium Oct. 13. Our agenda is chock-full of great content. Bring a team of bankers to enjoy a good program, lunch and fellowship with your fellow bankers. The event is co-hosted by GBA and Valdosta State University’s Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration. Get full details and register here. With questions, contact David Oliver, 404.420.2036.


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Skill Building Conferences

Compliance, Financial Risk Management and Credit Coming up

Learn the latest about key trends and network with fellow professionals at our fall conferences. Register now.

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Fall Seminars

Lending and Info Security Seminars Coming Up

Register yourself of make sure key teammates participate in GBA’s fall 2022 schedule of seminars. Programs cover a range of retail, IT security and lending topics. See below:

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GBA BankPAC 2022 Campaign Update

A recent update on the 2022 BankPAC campaign along with encouragement to keep up the momentum was the message to the crowd at the recent GBA President/CEO Conference from BankPAC Board Chair Michael Lee, Regional President with Ameris Bank . The GBA BankPAC Board is hoping that you will participate in this effort and have made the process as easy as possible. Here are the materials needed to assist you in contributing to the StatePAC (contribution may be from your state-chartered bank or holding company if a national bank) and the FedPAC (must come from eligible individuals - directors, officers and salaried employees.) Using a payroll deduction  method for individual contributions is an option to consider. With questions, please call Elizabeth Chandler at 404.372.7893. Thank you for considering this worthy effort that benefits the whole industry!


Contributing to the GBA StatePAC in the last week include the following banks:

  • Ameris Bank, Atlanta, Palmer Proctor, CEO

  • Classic City Bank, Athens, Bill Hopper, CEO

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

And, contributing to the GBA FedPAC are those eligible employees, officers, and directors from the following banks:

  • AB&T, Albany, Perry Revell, CEO

  • Ameris Bank, Atlanta, Palmer Proctor, CEO

  • Classic City Bank, Athens, Bill Hopper, CEO

  • First Chatham Bank, Savannah, Ken Farrell, President & CEO

  • First Citizens Bancshares, Raleigh, NC, Hope Connell, President

  • First National Bank of Griffin, Chuck Copeland, President & CEO

  • Morris Bank, Dublin, Spence Mullis, President & CEO

  • Tandem Bank, Tucker, Charles DeWitt, Chairman & CEO

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

Support the Georgia BankPAC by Playing a Round of Golf on October 19!

All GBA members are invited to participate in the Georgia BankPAC Golf Classic, Leadership GBA’s annual fall fundraiser for the Georgia BankPAC. The tournament will be Oct. 19 at The River Forest Club in Forsyth. Register today and plan to bring a fellow golfer, work colleague, legislator, or customer to join you. Nonmembers are welcome when accompanied by a member. You may register as an individual golfer, two-golfer team, or a two-golfer team with golf hole sponsorship. Non-golfers can support the event through sponsorship; opportunities range from $350 - $1,000. Check out the event website for details, to register, or to sign up for a sponsorship. Thanks to our tournament sponsors: Aubrey Thrasher, LLC, Banc Card of America, Bank of Dawson, Bank of Madison, Bank of Monticello, Citizens Bank of Americus, Community Banking Company of Fitzgerald, CSRA Business Lending, Elliott Davis, Fenimore Kay Harrison LLP, FHLBank Atlanta, First American Bank & Trust, First Bank of Pike, First National Bank of Decatur County, Flint Community Bank, Georgia Community Bank, Guardian Bank, Holmes-Shaw / PointeNorth Insurance Group, Liberty Technology, Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC, Metter Bank, Morris Bank, OinkChing Inc., Planters and Citizens Bank, Point to Point Environmental, Inc., Securitas Financial Services, South Georgia Banking Company, Southern Bank Equipment & ATMs, Steve H. Powell & Company, and The Piedmont Bank. Questions? Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad.


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Staying Calm through Continued Market Volatility

Many 401(k) participants have been on edge this year as the market has experienced continued losses. Bear markets bring much anxiety to participants in 401(k) plans, particularly those nearing retirement. Many participants act on an emotional response to “get out of the market”. However, the market has already priced in many of the fears from headline news and if you get out of the market now, you may not be comfortable getting back in until the market is back up, and many times you miss the recovery period. This chart shows how missing the best 10, 20, 30 or 40 days in the market over a 20-year period can greatly impact your long-term returns.


The best way to weather storms like this is to maintain a long-term focus and keep a well-diversified portfolio. It’s also important for participants to continue making contributions and receiving their employee match. It’s a great buying opportunity while the market is low. Over 84% of participants in the GBA Master 401(k) Plan are invested in our Managed Account Solution, which becomes more conservative as the participant gets closer to retirement age, and also adds a wealth preservation strategy for those who are 5 to 7 years from retirement. Diversification is key and having a professionally managed account helps participants with asset allocation and to focus more on long-term goals.


If you would like GBA Retirement Services to assist with your next plan review, we can provide a detailed fee and investment comparison of our 401(k) services to your current plan. Please contact Mandy Richards at 404.420.2025 for more information.


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New Marketing and Business Development Program

Lead-Generation Bootcamp Webinar Series

We’ve joined forces with several other state bankers associations and the ABA for a four-part webinar series to help you generate more business leads. The sessions will take part over two days. This is an is ABA accredited program, and each approximately 45-minute session is worth 1 CFMP Credit, for a total of 4 CFMP. The program is live and will also be made available On Demand.

Nov. 29

  • Part 1 - Boost Your Landing Page Conversions: Best Practices for Every Bank Product

  • Part 2 - Maximize Your Paid Search Traffic: How to Avoid Overspending

Nov. 30

  • Part 3 - Scale Your Digital Customer Referrals: Influencer Marketing to Win More Customers

  • Part 4 - Optimize Your Campaign Strategy: Tracking & Analytics for Continuous Improvement of Lead Gen

Get details and register here. With questions, contact David Oliver.


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Will Cover Recent FDIC Guidance on Represented Items

Live Webinar Oct. 13 at 9:30 am: Decoding Overdraft Criticism & Market Shifts with JMFA

Is the spotlight on overdraft programs eroding your confidence in the bank’s overdraft strategy? Proposed legislation and headlines typically characterize all overdraft services and fees as deceptive, unfair, predatory, or even the cause of an individual’s financial freefall. We know that most banks continue to provide a valuable service characterized by transparency, fairness, and consumer empowerment. As industry experts in overdraft helping banks deliver a pro-consumer overdraft program, JMFA’s latest complimentary webinar: Decoding Recent Overdraft Criticism and Market Shifts, may offer additional clarity. Click here to register for the webinar. In this session, JMFA’s EVP of Compliance Review, Cheryl Lawson, will share useful insights on the recent topics making news headlines:

  • The recent FDIC guidance on represented items

  • The continuous efforts by some lawmakers to change regulations on overdraft programs and why previous attempts have fallen short

  • How to mitigate risk with proper disclosures

  • The motivations behind the recent market shifts by financial institutions to revitalize the image of their overdraft solution.


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Crime and Punishment

First Atlanta-Area PPP Fraud Conviction Handed Down

A South Carolina man has been convicted of fraudulently getting a $300,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. A federal jury handed down the guilty verdict, making it the first Atlanta-area conviction. Travis Crosby, 32, of Wellford, South Carolina, was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, making a false statement to a bank, and money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10, 2023. According to the FBI, Crosby was part of an Atlanta-based fraud ring and his 10 co-conspirators charged entered guilty pleas to avoid a trial. Read all the details here.


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Stacking the Deck: Secrets of High-Performing Banks

By Dr. Sean Payant, GBA Associate Member Haberfeld


For banks, the focus on best practices is generally aimed at strategies to cut expenses: using technology, looking at staffing levels and increasing productivity, among others. Although this advice is sound, is that actually what high-performing banks do? To answer this question, the team at GBA Associate member Haberfeld recently analyzed data for 81 institutions that have been in the top five for return on equity for five consecutive years to peers. These institutions averaged an efficiency ratio of 52.04%. Click here to see the numbers. What you’ll see is evidence that the actions of high-performing banks tell the story. Banks that invest in growth reap the greatest rewards. While it may not be intuitive, bank executives must ensure they have all of the right strategies to capitalize on growth opportunities that present themselves in any environment.

Have questions or feedback? Dr. Payant can be reached at 402.323.3614 or


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Compliance Alliance Question of the Week



1. Can a lender order an appraisal prior to receiving intent to proceed?

2. Is it a regulatory violation if a lender orders one without having received intent to proceed?

3. When can we first charge for an appraisal?

Answer: Reg Z does not expressly prohibit the actual ordering of an appraisal prior to receiving intent to proceed. However, without intent to proceed, the Bank runs the risk of not being able to charge the customer for it. Reg Z does not permit the Bank to impose any fee in connection with the transaction before the consumer has provided the intent to proceed. Once the bank has received intent to proceed, it may assess the fee. Some Banks choose to not order any appraisal prior to receiving intent to proceed because if the intent to proceed is never provided, the Bank cannot charge for it. So, this is not necessarily a regulatory error unless you attempt to charge for it without receiving intent to proceed.


Click to read more of the Compliance Alliance September Newsletter.


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Frequent Flood Issues, Compliance Briefing, Legal Essentials for Lenders, and More

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.


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:


Augusta - Ameris Bank

Bank Market President Cameron Nixon and Regional President Remer Brinson recently presented a $15,000 check to the Jud C. Hickey Center for Alzheimer's Care in recognition of its outstanding support of the Augusta community.

Johns Creek - American Commerce Bank

The Johns Creek team recently participated in the St. Benedict's Knights of Columbus golf tournament, helping to raise funds in support of veterans.

Savannah - First Chatham Bank

The team at the bank is proud to support their friends at Savannah Ambucs again this year. This great organization, through a nationwide network of volunteer chapters, and partnerships with physical, occupational, and speech therapists; provides adaptive Amtrykes, scholarships for therapists, and many other forms of community service.


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GBA Newsmakers


Albany - Colony Bank

Laurie Senn has been promoted to Chief Operations Officer. Read more here.


Augusta - Ameris Bank

The bank recently held a grand opening celebration for its new Augusta branch.


Augusta - Colony Bank

Bob Goodman has joined the bank as a mortgage loan originator for its Augusta market. Read more here.


Philadelphia, PA - Hyperion Bank

The bank, which expanded to the Atlanta market three years ago, was recently included among the Philadelphia Business Journal's 2022 “Soaring 76” list, ranking that region’s fastest-growing businesses. Hyperion came in at #63 on the list of private and public companies. Congratulations to Chairman and CEO Charlie Crawford and the whole team at the bank.


Richmond Hill - Great Oaks Bank

Nicole Sloan has joined the bank as vice president, senior credit officer. Read more here.


Valdosta - Commercial Banking Company

Matt Malone has joined the bank as vice president of marketing. Read more here.


Senn Goodman Crawford Sloan Malone


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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