Aug. 18, 2023  

Southwest Georgia Members Gather for Group GBA Update

Members came together in Albany Tuesday for our first opportunity to put into action GBA Chairman Kim Wilson’s priority for more local GBA gatherings. GBA hosted a lunch meeting that featured member bank volunteers who serve on committees and boards as well as GBA staff members giving updates about key association activities and advocacy priorities. Attendees included bank presidents and CEOs, past GBA chairmen and emerging leaders from banks relatively close to Albany. A number of state representatives from the area also attended. “It was refreshing to join friends in our South Group at this type of meeting again,” said Wilson, president and CEO of OneSouth Bank. “Many of us have opportunities to see one another at conferences, meetings of the various committees and boards we serve on, or in peer roundtables. But, with consolidation in the industry and needing to stay close to home during the pandemic, we have missed being together at local events like this to network and get a closer look at all our association is doing on behalf of members.” Among the member volunteers presenting were Compliance Committee Chair Tabitha White of First State Bank of Blakely, Agriculture Committee Chair Matt Rushton of AB&T, Leadership GBA Board Member Stephen Whittaker, First National Bank, GBA Insurance Trust Chairman Rick Whaley, The Citizens Bank of Americus, GBA Services, Inc. Past Chairman Susan Moss, Planters and Citizens Bank, Crystal Huffman of Fenimore Harrison Kay LLP with a fraud update, BankPAC Board Chair Michael Lee, Ameris Bank, and Public Affairs Committee Chair and GBA Chairman-Elect Brad Barber, First National Bank. Staff presenting were EVP of Government Relations & Advocacy Elizabeth Chandler with a legislative and regulatory update, GBAIT/GBARS President & CEO Tripp Cofield about GBA Retirement Services, and EVP/COO David Oliver about additional educational programs and the two public deposit collateral pool programs GBA administers for the Office of the State Treasurer. GBA President and CEO Joe Brannen updated the attendees on an Albany-area check fraud roundtable he and others participated in earlier in the morning (see story below). We appreciate AB&T’s Perry Revell for helping nail down our meeting location as we fast-tracked the event planning so we could pair it with the check-fraud roundtable. We’ll be looking for similar opportunities to organize local meetings as the year goes on. With questions, contact GBA’s Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.


Kim Wilson leads the meeting Matt Rushton Elizabeth Chandler Susan Moss


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Check Fraud Top-of-Mind at Albany Chamber Roundtable

FinCEN reports that financial institutions filed twice as many suspicious activity reports in 2022 than in 2021 and filed 11% more in the first four months of 2023 than in the same period in 2022. The number of checks written annually by consumers and businesses has fallen by nearly half in the last decade, yet the total amount represented by those checks has remained about the same. Bank robberies have fallen precipitously during this period, indicating that the criminal element has moved to crimes with lesser penalties that are more difficult to catch, like check fraud. GBA Chairman Kim Wilson, president and CEO of OneSouth Bank, and GBA’s Joe Brannen participated in a community check fraud roundtable sponsored by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce this week. Led by chamber president Barbara Rivera Holmes, and AB&T CEO and chamber chairman Perry Revell, the roundtable included representatives from area banks, local, state and federal law enforcement, the U.S. Postal Service, and other community stakeholders. The bankers and we shared some of the things the industry is doing to combat the problem:

  • Offering services such as positive pay to business customers


  • Educating customers and encouraging online bill pay and other electronic payments through secure channels


  • Implementing processing/imaging technology that can better identify altered checks


  • Training staff to recognize altered checks, unusual customer deposit patterns or requests, and being alert to possible elder fraud where banks are required reporters


  • Strengthening partnerships with law enforcement and USPS, as most checks are intercepted in transit


  • Cooperating with prosecutors providing evidence to help convict those accused of theft


  • Participating in industry events and peer group networks such as the GBA Security Committee-sponsored Security Conference and an association-sponsored Google Group to coordinate intelligence about check fraud, potential gang activity and share best practices.

The Postal Service representative candidly discussed challenges with the system, especially related to using boxes outside postal facilities for outgoing mail, master keys being stolen to access business, apartment and community central mailboxes, and bad actors within the Postal Service. Law enforcement representatives discussed cases they were prosecuting, ranging from altered or washed checks, counterfeit checks, individuals recruited to cash fraudulent checks inside bank branches, and the organized criminal network behind those money mules. The U.S. Attorney and representatives from the Georgia Attorney General described this and other gang activity that’s gotten their attention. Federal penalties were deemed sufficient, while some suggested state penalties related to gang activities could be strengthened. The General Assembly may be asked to consider those increased penalties in the 2024 legislative session. There is no simple solution to stopping check fraud. Brannen told the group at the conclusion, “This is not just a bank problem. It’s a community, state and national problem. Bankers, merchants, state and federal agencies, law enforcement, prosecutors and elected officials all must be at the table if we’re ever going to stop this criminal activity.” He thanked the chamber for putting together the roundtable and pledged that GBA will remain a resource to all the stakeholders. As a reminder, all banks willing to participate have access to a directory created to help banks respond more efficiently to check warranty breach claims. The directory is searchable by bank name, city, state, or FDIC routing number. Details and the online form to sign up may be found at this link.

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Advocacy in Action

Cobb Co. Economic Development Pros Get State of Banking Snapshot

Thigpen, Wright, Brannen
and Butch Morris

Brannen gives banking

We were honored to get to share details Wednesday about the state of the industry and the 22 banks serving Cobb County with an energetic crowd of economic development professionals. Westside/Piedmont Bank’s Ford Thigpen invited GBA’s Joe Brannen to speak at the quarterly Economic Development roundtable, hosted this quarter by the City of Kennesaw’s Economic Development Director Luke Howe and chaired by Cobb County Economic Development Director Sabrina Wright. It was nice to connect with these folks, who are strong partners with their local banks to bring exciting new projects and expand existing businesses in one of the state’s fastest growing counties. GBA often speaks to banker and business groups to share the story about banking beyond the headlines. Contact David Oliver, 404.520.6311, with questions.


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Tamera Ray

Monica Gleerup

Women in Banking Conference Gets High Marks

We’re getting rave reviews about the Women in Banking Conference held last week. Tamera Ray of Century Bank of Georgia said the best part of the experience for her was simply being around a group of like-minded women who have the same goal. Ray added, “One takeaway and quote that stuck with me was, ‘Win the day the night before.’ Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change. These words resonated with me particularly as someone who manages different areas of the bank. My attitude, actions and reactions have a large effect on those around me. The conference was very impactful and instrumental in feeding my mind, body and soul to be the best banker I can be.” Monica Gleerup of platinum-level event sponsor Southern Bank Equipment & ATMs also found value in attending. “Each year the GBA Women in Banking Conference builds on the year before,” she said. “This year was no exception. The women attending were engaging, dynamic and show that the future for our daughters is in excellent hands.” What could you gain by attending? If you weren’t one of the 125+ women bankers, attorneys, accountants and associate members who attended this year, don’t miss out next year! Mark your calendar for Aug. 15-16, back at Chateau Elan. Click here to view photos from this year’s conference. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


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Diane Clegg

GBA Member Profile

Getting Pies to All 50 States with Diane Clegg

During the recent pandemic and PPP process, Diane Clegg, marketing director of Georgia Primary Bank, Atlanta, enjoyed helping customers promote their businesses through the bank’s sponsorship of a local radio segment called Small Business Spotlight on 680 The Fan. Every week, the talk show hosts would interview a small business owner to see how they were coping and what they were doing to keep their business running. “We were able to get a lot of our own customers on-air exposure, which in turn helped their businesses. One such story involves one of our customers whose company ships pies all over the country. She mentioned on the radio show that the company had shipped pies to every state in the country except Hawaii. After the show aired, someone called her business and ordered a pie to be shipped to Hawaii so she could now claim they had shipped to every U.S. state,” Clegg said. The member of the GBA Marketing Committee shares how visiting her local bank as a child inspired her to have a career in banking, the lessons in writing and grammar that play out in her work and at home, her past and present hobbies of raising chickens, selling antiques and trying new foods and more in our latest GBA Member Profile.


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President/CEO, Bank Accountant, and Bank Counsel Conferences

Programming for Bank Accountant and Bank Counsel Conferences Firming Up

The GBA Bank Accountant and Bank Counsel Sections are putting the finishing touches on their educational slates for the President/CEO, Bank Accountant and Bank Counsel Conferences. Coming up September
24– 26 at the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District, there are sessions tailored exclusively to the Bank Accountant and Bank Counsel conference attendees, while general sessions are available to all attendees. Bank accountants and representatives from our Bank Accountant Section member firms are sure to enjoy the hot topics session. Always highly anticipated due to the exchange of beneficial information and perspectives shared, the conversation will be facilitated by Bank Accountant Section Chair Rhonda Norris, Symphona, and Vice Chair Eve Rogers with Crowe. The Bank Counsel sessions will include an update on Georgia case law from Brad Folsom, with Moore, Clarke, DuVall & Rodgers, P.C., and a panel discussion on relevant topics affecting bank attorneys in their daily practices. If your bank or firm isn’t signed up yet, there is still room, as we’ve recently added rooms to our block at the hotel. Click here to see the detailed agendas, to register, and for hotel information.


Thanks to our generous event sponsors: American Bankers Association; Carr, Riggs & Ingram, CPAs and Advisors; EBS; Elliott Davis; Fenimore Kay Harrison LLP; FHLBank Atlanta; First National Bankers Bank; James-Bates-Brannan-Groover-LLP; Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC; McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co., LLC; Nichols, Cauley & Associates, LLC; SentryHealth; ServisFirst Bank - Correspondent Division; Symphona; Troutman Pepper; and Warren Averett CPAs & Advisors. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions regarding sponsorship or the conference.


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2023 BankPAC Campaign Making Great Headway

The response to the 2023 BankPAC campaign has been wonderful so far and with your support, we hope to continue this pace so that our industry’s voice is heard across federal and state levels of government as some tough issues are being discussed that impact all of us. You can find the campaign materials on GBA’s website where you can easily download contribution forms for the GBA StatePAC and FedPAC and find a link to make an individual contribution online to the FedPAC. Members of the GBA BankPAC Board will be calling on you very soon to encourage your participation.


Many thanks to the banks below who made their contribution to the GBA StatePAC this week:

  • Exchange Bank, Milledgeville, John Childs, president and CEO

And, to the directors, officers, and eligible employees of the following banks for contributing to the GBA FedPAC this week:

  • Bank of Dudley, Sam Beall, president and CEO

  • Citizens Bank of Americus, Rick Whaley, president and CEO

  • United Bank, Zebulon, Jim Edwards, CEO

With questions, please call GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler at 404.372.7893 or Bo Brannen at 404.731.9886.


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Georgia BankPAC Golf Classic

Support the GBA StatePAC Campaign on the Golf Course This Fall!

It’s exciting to read in the bulletin the growing list of members who have contributed to the GBA StatePAC* during this BankPAC campaign season. We’ve got a great way for you to support this worthy cause and have a lot of fun at the same time: Join us at the 2023 Georgia BankPAC Golf Classic, Oct. 18 at the River Forest Club in Forsyth! Here's what you need to know about this event:

  • Golfers of all abilities are welcome

  • Individual Golfer tickets are $190, Two-Person Team tickets are $305, and the best deal is a Two-Person Team with Golf Hole Sponsorship tickets are $530.

  • You don’t have to set your team until closer to the event

  • Sponsorships are available for $280 and up

  • If you're not a golfer you can still come and enjoy the day by sponsoring a hole or volunteering.

Click here for more details and to register. Contact Kathy Friestad with questions.


* The GBA StatePAC contributes only to candidates running for state-level offices such as the Georgia General Assembly, the Governor’s office and the Lieutenant Governor’s office. Contributions can be made from an individual, from bank funds if you are a state-chartered bank or from a national bank holding company if the contribution is made from funds other than those resulting from the operations of the national bank.


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Andy Keusal

Lender Training – Don’t Miss Out!

Commercial Lending 201: Analyzing Repayment Sources - Sept. 7, Zoom

Presented by Andy Keusal, Keusal Learning, this nine-module online course is a “sequel” to the Fundamentals of Commercial Lending 101 course from earlier this year and is best taken after completion of that course, though it is not a prerequisite. The 201 course includes a case study and dives deeper into topics covered in modules 4, 6, and 8 of the 101 course that covered analyzing a borrower’s balance sheet, income statement, collateral, and risk ratings. This online course will be held by Zoom on Thursday, Sept. 7 from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. EDT. The recording will be available to registered participants for one month after the live training. Register for the 201 course here. Contact GBA’s Alison Moreau with questions about the online course.


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Space is filling up!

Opening New Accounts Seminar - Sept. 12, MGSU, Macon

Don’t miss your chance to learn from the pro! Suzie Jones of Training Resources Consulting will focus on documentation and compliance, which is customized to Georgia law, during this full-day seminar. Attendees can expect to learn essential new account opening procedures, best practices, and compliance requirements. Suzie will answer complex questions asked by customers and staff while focusing on vital information for every new account type. Learn more and register here.


New Speaker, Fresh Content!

Business Cash Flow Analysis Seminar - Sept. 19, MGSU, Macon

Join Peter Faser of Truist Securities, a faculty member of the Georgia Banking School, for an introduction and practical approach to business cash flow analysis. A highlight of the seminar is new and fresh casework to get the hands-on analysis needed to determine a borrower’s capacity to repay a loan. Learn more and register here.


Attention Loan Personnel

Loan Documentation Seminar - Sept. 20, MGSU, Macon

Shannon Fortson, EVP, Chief Credit Officer of Pinnacle Bank, is the new leader for our Loan Documentation Seminar. He'll cover proper loan structuring and documentation techniques. Connect with peers and walk away with all the best tips and tools. Commercial loan officers, commercial loan personnel, loan assistants and closing specialists will benefit from this program. Learn more and register here.


Suzie Jones Peter Faser Shannon Fortson


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Lon Langston

Compliance Conference and HMDA Workshop - Oct 18-20, Jekyll Island

Compliance Leadership Session with Lon Langston

Ever feel defeated in your role as a compliance professional? You’re there to help, but where do you begin leading bankers to comply with compliance? They think you’re the enemy, when really you’re trying to keep the bank safe. In this session, Lon Langston, founder of Engaged Banker eXperience, will give Compliance Conference attendees proven methods from behavioral science to persuade, influence and lead everyone in the bank to cooperate. His session will help compliance pros get executives, objectors and agitators to willingly do what you need them to do as well as increase their effectiveness and enjoyment of work. Led by led by committee Chair Tabitha White, First State Bank of Blakely, and Vice Chair Lindsay Holloway, The Four County Bank, GBA’s Compliance Committee invites you to attend this annual conference for compliance professionals Oct. 18-20 at the Westin, Jekyll Island.


Thank you to these GBA Associate Members who are showing their support through sponsorship:

  • Platinum Sponsors: American Bankers Association and Steve H. Powell & Company

  • Silver Sponsors: Carr, Riggs, & Ingram, CPAs and Advisors, Compliance Alliance, Mauldin & Jenkins, Ncontracts and Troutman Pepper.

Click here to register. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Jonathan Hightower

Financial Risk Management Conference - Nov. 2-3

Panel Discussion: Examinations

With many issues developing in the banking industry in 2023 around interest rate risk, liquidity risk management, operational and fraud matters, and potential credit risks, it is difficult to anticipate what regulators will focus on in safety and soundness exams. At the 2023 Financial Risk Management Conference Nov. 2-3 in Atlanta, Jonathan Hightower of Fenimore Kay Harrison LLP will moderate a panel of bankers as they discuss their expectations for areas of regulatory focus and what their banks have done to prepare for regulatory questions. This is one of many outstanding sessions featured during the conference, which is hosted annually by GBA’s Asset/Liability Management Committee.


Get all the details and register here. We’d like to thank these Associate Members who are showing their support:

  • Platinum Sponsor: The Baker Group

  • Gold Sponsor: Brean Capital LLC

  • Silver Sponsors: Carr, Riggs & Ingram, CPAs and Advisors; FHLBank Atlanta; ServisFirst Bank – Correspondent Division; and Wipfli LLP.

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Dev Strischek

Credit Conference - coming up Nov. 30 - Dec. 1

Session Spotlight: How to Evaluate a Borrower’s Ability to Survive

At the 2023 GBA Credit Conference Nov. 30 - Dec. 1 in Atlanta, Dev Strischek, principal of Devon Risk Advisory Group, LLC will lead a session about evaluating a borrower’s ability to survive. As borrowers and lenders work through the business cycle, borrowers’ credit needs change, so lenders must be ready to recognize the changes and accommodate their clients’ requirements and credit approvers must be prepared to evaluate and adjudicate the impact of these changes on underwriting, approval, and credit risk management. Business cycles are inevitable, and bankers must understand borrowers’ funding needs through a cycle's four phases—early expansion, late expansion, early contraction, and late contraction—as well as how to identify and evaluate clients’ relative vulnerability to both inflation and recession. Join us for this session and much more. Get all the details and register here.


We’d like to thank these Associate Members who are showing their support through sponsorship

  • Platinum Sponsor: Steve H. Powell & Company

  • Silver Sponsors: CRI - Carr Riggs & Ingram CPAs and Advisors; CSRA Business Lending; Mauldin & Jenkins; Point to Point Environmental; and Wiplfi LLP.


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Save the Date! Registration Opens in September



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BSA Summit, Jan. 29 – Feb. 1, Peachtree City

Registration is now open for GBA’s BSA Summit in Peachtree City at the Hilton Conference Center, Jan. 29 - Feb. 1. Facilitated by Kristen Stogniew of Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund, attendees can expect a deep dive into the world of BSA compliance through a variety of sessions. Register here and secure your spot! Contact Aimee Corcoran with questions, 404.420.2035.


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Ransomware, Phishing, and Email Compromise; Deposit and Operations Compliance; CFPB Update on Junk Fees; and More

Here’s a sampling of upcoming webinars.

Want to see the full webinar schedule? Check out our webinar calendar for a full list of upcoming webinars.


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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:


Elberton - Pinnacle Bank

For this year’s Salute the Troops fundraiser, the bank raised more than $7,200 for Hire Heroes USA. Read more here.


Lawrenceville - Embassy National Bank

The bank recently sponsored the India American Cultural Association’s 27th Festival of India at the Gas South Center.


Rome - River City Bank

The bank’s Rome office collected school supplies throughout the month of July to benefit Restoration Rome's Foster Parents Association Families. Restoration Rome provides local foster families with the resources they need to start the school year.


St. Marys - Southeastern Bank

The bank recently donated $100,000 to Southeast Georgia Health System Camden Campus through the 2023 Georgia HEART Hospital Program. Read more here.



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GBA Newsmakers


Atlanta - Georgia Banking Company

The bank was recently recognized as a Top Work Place for 2023 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Calhoun - North Georgia National Bank

Jayla Ensley was recently promoted to assistant vice president. Kimberly Abernathy, retail branch operations manager, was also promoted to senior vice president. Read more here.


Cuthbert - First State Bank of Randolph County

Our sympathies to Brandi and Scott Curry, their family and friends on the recent death of Brandi’s father, Tom Friddell. Read more here.


Gainesville - Pinnacle Bank

Lauren Vaverka has been promoted to regional director of retail services. Read more here.


Lavonia - Pinnacle Bank

Sabrina Walker has joined the bank’s Lavonia team as branch manager. Read more here.


Richmond Hill - The Claxton Bank

The bank recently hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting event for its new full-service branch in Richmond Hill.


Watkinsville - Pinnacle Bank

Ryan Hammock has been promoted to senior vice president, regional director of lending and business services. Read more here.


Atlanta - Georgia Department of Banking and Finance

Congratulations to Senior Deputy Commissioner Steve Pleger on his recent retirement at the end of July after more than 25 years of service to the department. As of Aug. 1, Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs Bo Fears is now the senior deputy commissioner for the department.



Georgia Banking Company Jayla Ensley Kimberly Abernathy Lauren Vaverka Sabrina Walker



The Claxton Bank Ryan Hammock Steve Pleger Bo Fears



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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