Dec. 8, 2023  

Action Alert

Reminder: Check Fraud Survey Deadline is Here

We strongly encourage member banks to take part in the statewide check fraud survey being done by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance (DBF). The survey will close Dec. 8, 2023, with results released to participants and partners by Dec. 15. All banks and credit unions supervised by the DBF are encouraged to participate, as well as OCC supervised banks doing business in Georgia. It is a relatively short survey, and responses will be anonymized. Need more info? Contact Deputy Commissioner for Supervision Melissa Sneed at 770.986.1646 or


Get Survey Details and Access from DBF Here


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Full House Gets the Scoop at Credit Conference

A capacity crowd of credit and lending leaders from throughout the state gathered last week for the GBA Credit Conference. GBA’s Credit Committee, led by Chair Michael Tesler, Ameris Bank, and Vice Chair Rebecca Abraham, Signature Bank of Georgia, put together a program that delivered detail, depth and unique insights on all the major trends influencing credit and lending in the Georgia market. The program began with a look at new ways to evaluate borrowers during the current inflationary and higher rate environment by Dev Strischek of Devon Risk Advisory Group. Next up was a deep dive into CRE trends by Synovus Bank expert Cal Evans. Market conditions affecting Georgia’s agribusiness industry took center stage after that, with a session by the Georgia Agribusiness Council’s Will Bentley. The first day’s program concluded with Abrigo’s Dave Koch presenting a unique look at how trends on the deposit side of the business are affecting lending and credit considerations. Friday’s sessions kicked off with an industry and regulatory update presented by Georgia Banking Commissioner Kevin Hagler and GBA’s EVP of Government Relations and Advocacy Elizabeth Chandler. A lively peer roundtable discussion followed, moderated by Shannon Fortson of Pinnacle Bank. And the conference concluded with an economic update from Kennesaw State University’s Roger Tutterow. Members also got to spend time with a host of exhibitors; Abrigo, BankPac, BankStride, CoStar Group, CSRA Business Lending, Dart Appraisal, Point to Point Environmental, Qualtik and Seven Hills Auctions. Thanks also to Platinum Sponsor Steve H. Powell & Company and Silver Sponsors CRI - Carr Riggs & Ingram CPAs and Advisors, CSRA Business Lending, Mauldin & Jenkins, Point to Point Environmental and Wiplfi LLP. See photos from the conference here.


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Attention Attorneys!

Status of Important Cases - December 2023

The latest ABA Newsbytes Banking Docket is now available. Click here for the details of the status of important cases. (Each article contains a “Read more” link with access to additional details on the issues, case summaries and links to related documents.)


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Coming up next week! Don’t miss out on this Georgia-specific content

Mastering Power of Attorney in Georgia Webinar

Join us for an exclusive webinar tailored specifically to Georgia bankers, where we delve into the critical aspects of our Georgia’s Power of Attorney laws with John Willis of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. This webinar is a must-attend event for those with customer service or document review responsibilities within a bank. Get all the details and register here.


With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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GBA Retirement Services 401(k) Seminars This Week

GBA Retirement Services held its annual training seminars in Atlanta and Macon this week. Presenters from American Trust and GBA discussed administration, year-end testing process, participant education, plan design overview, SECURE 2.0 Act updates and fiduciary responsibilities of 401(k) plan sponsors. For Trust members who were unable to attend, there will be a live webinar Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 10 a.m. Click here if you would like to sign up. With assets more than $250 million, being a part of the GBA Master Trust allows smaller plans, including plans of banks, associate members and bank clients, to gain buying power for an effective 401(k) solution for participants. If you would like more information or a proposal for 401(k) services, please contact Mandy Richards at 404.420.2025 or 678.549.4167.


Atlanta seminar Macon seminar


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GBA Retirement Services Welcomes New Member

GBA Retirement Services, Inc. is excited to welcome another member to the GBA Master 401(k) Trust that will be joining in 2024: First American Bank & Trust, Athens, C. Rhodes McLanahan, CEO. We have enjoyed meeting with employees this week as we prepare for them to join our program in January. We look forward to providing outstanding service for these plan participants in the years to come.


Some of the advantages of being part of the GBA Master Trust include:

  • GBA’s dedicated staff support as a primary resource and oversight of service providers.

  • American Trust Company as an investment manager and discretionary Trustee.

  • Reduced fees with high-quality service providers.

  • Ongoing investment education and retirement planning sessions for employees.

  • Personalized Managed Account Solution geared to each participant’s needs through the Unified Plan at no additional cost for participants.

  • Added value: Your bank’s business customers are eligible to participate through referral from you as an add on service.

We would love to do a plan review and show you why all of our members are pleased with the service and performance provided by GBA Retirement Services! Contact Mandy Richards at 404.420.2025 for more information about how GBA Retirement Services can help design or improve your retirement plan.


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Leader Updates

Zoom in on Georgia in Q3, Hagler's "Concern-o-Meter," H-2A Workers, Deposit Trends, and Successful Advocacy

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

  • How GA Stacks Up: There’s lots of green (meaning good) on the color-coded analysis we shared of the third-quarter FDIC data showing how Georgia industry performance compared to national numbers.


  • Credit Risk Read: We shared some details from Georgia Banking Commissioner Kevin Hagler’s presentation at the Credit Conference. It included his 1-10 scale scoring of his level of concern about a variety of loan categories for the banks the DBF supervises.


  • Farm Labor: We covered some insights about the importance of H-2A workers for Georgia’s agribusiness industry, as well as details about rising farm labor costs.


  • Assessments / Uninsured Deposits / Brokered Deposits: We looked in to a variety of Fed and FDIC data to note some deposit trends. Overall deposits are down throughout the industry, but have stabilized since March, and uninsured deposits are down, as well.


  • 1071 Advocacy Success: Thanks to banker advocacy, the U.S. House and Senate passed a bipartisan resolution to overturn CFPB’s 1071 final rule related to overly granular reporting on certain small business loans. It is likely the President will veto it, but the bipartisan support is a strong signal to the Administration that CFPB needs to change the rule to more closely follow the requirements contained in the Dodd-Frank Act.

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


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Breaking News!

GBA Compliance School – Now Offering Year 1 and Year 2 Simultaneously

You’ve asked and we’ve listened! GBA’s Compliance School Board is excited to announce that for the first time ever, Year 1 and Year 2 of Compliance School will be offered in 2024! Compliance officers as well as anyone who has compliance responsibilities, including department managers, will benefit from the school. Enroll today for career growth, personal growth, and added value to your institution. Get the details and register here.


GBA’s Compliance School will be April 28 - May 3, 2024, at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel in Athens. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Counterfeit Check Alert

Please be aware that someone has created and is attempting to pass counterfeit official checks using the correct routing number for First National Bank of Griffin. The header on the checks says “Cashiers Check FNB Official Check.” For more information, contact Jackie Page, deposit operations manager,, or 770 227-2251 extension 1150.


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John Ashford

Political Outlook by National Expert Part of Legislative Forum Program

We’re excited that political consultant John Ashford, CEO and Chairman of The Hawthorn Group, will be a featured speaker at the upcoming Legislative and Economic Forum & Reception Jan. 24 at the Ritz-Carlton Downtown Atlanta. Don’t miss Ashford's candid look at the national and statewide political outlook during his session titled, “It’s a BIG Election Year and Georgia is a Swing State.” Registration and the room block at the Ritz-Carlton are open. Click here to register for the forum and/or reception.


A big thank you to our event sponsors FHLBank Atlanta, Point to Point Environmental, ServisFirst Bank Correspondent Division, and Yarmouth and Choate. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


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2023 BankPAC Campaign Update

The 2023 BankPAC campaign is beginning to wind down after a lot of success this year. A reminder “suggested invoice” has been mailed to CEOs who have not yet participated in the GBA StatePAC as well as a reminder for individuals to contribute to the GBA FedPAC. This effort is critical to ensure that our industry’s voice is heard across federal and state levels of government. 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 appreciate your support.


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

  • Colony Bank, Fitzgerald, Heath Fountain, president & CEO

  • Southeastern Bank, Darien, Jay Torbert, president & CEO

  • Georgia Bankers Association, Joe Brannen, president & CEO

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


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Sure As Shootin’! Show Your Support for Georgia State PAC at Sporting Clays Tournament

Sign up today for our seventh-annual Georgia BankPAC Sporting Clays Tournament, coming your way Feb. 8 at the crowd favorite Old Hudson Plantation in Sparta. All proceeds will go to the Georgia state PAC*. There are registration options for four-person teams, individual shooters, as well as sponsorship opportunities. Click here for more details and to register. A big shout-out to our event sponsors: Bank of Madison; Cash Transactions LLC “CashTrans”; First Carolina Bank; First State Bank; Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC; Northeast Georgia Bank; Point to Point Environmental; and Steve H. Powell & Company. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


* The GBA StatePAC contributes only to candidates running for state-level office 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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Kristen Stogniew

Start the year off right with BSA training!

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

You need the right skills and equipment to assess and maintain your bank’s BSA/AML/CFT and OFAC programs. Join us at 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 strengthen your BSA knowledge and practices.


With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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IRA Merry-Go-Round, Feb. 6-7, Macon, MGSU

Facilitated by Loni Porta, Director of Education, Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, anyone even remotely involved in IRAs will benefit from this intensive training. Whether you are looking to gain basic knowledge of IRAs, raise your comfort level, or sharpen your skills with the most up-to-date rules and regulations, the IRA Merry-Go-Round will cover it all. Click here for more details and to register. Contact Aimee Corcoran with questions, 404.420.2035.



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Eric Delgado

2024 Ops/Tech Conference - Feb. 28 - March 1, Savannah

Session Highlight: Phishing Protection Securing Azure AD with Conditional Access Policies

We look forward to hosting Eric Delgado, Technology DevOps Engineer, Safe Systems, at the upcoming Operations & Technology Conference to lead a presentation exploring the conceptual benefits of implementing Conditional Access Policies in the Azure environment and practical tips on leveraging this technology as a countermeasure against identity compromise. Hosted annually by GBA’s Operations & Technology Committee under the leadership of Chair Shan Venable, Altamaha Bank and Trust Company, and Vice Chair Mindy Green, Citizens Community Bank, the conference will include other sessions on: Fraud; succession planning; leverage your next core contract negotiation, David Saylor, Genesys Technology Group, LLC; conversational AI and how to leverage the prompt; evolving expectations – the next digital wave, Matt Herren, CSI; and more! A huge thanks to Platinum Sponsor Liberty Technology. Click here to access the event website with everything you need to know.


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Andy Keusal

Commercial Lending Training – Webinars


Breaking into Banking 101 – Fundamentals of Commercial Banking, Thursday, Feb. 22

Commercial banking can be intimidating because of its complexity and the risk-oriented nature of the work. This course is a clear and thorough introduction to the key concepts, terminology, and processes involved in credit and lending. It doesn’t assume much prior knowledge of the topic, so it’s ideal for those in their first year in the industry. Learners will walk away with a clear understanding of their job and how their specific role fits into the bank’s overall profitability goals. Click here to register.


Breaking into Banking 201 – Analyzing Repayment Sources, Wednesday, March 27

This 9-module online course is a “sequel” to the 101 course 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: analyzing a borrower’s balance sheet, income statement, collateral, and risk ratings. Click here to register.


Both are presented by Andy Keusal, Keusal Learning. These online courses will be held by Zoom from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. EDT. The recording will be available to registered participants for one month after the live training.


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Compliance Alliance Question of The Week


Question: We filed a SAR and later received a call from the IRS criminal investigation unit regarding the SAR filling. Can we work directly with the IRS Special Agent on this matter?


Answer: Guidance offered by FinCEN suggests that, so long as the bank verifies the credentials and identity of this IRS Agent, this person would be considered appropriate law enforcement, and the bank could work directly with the IRS Agent, as set out here:


"...In addition, financial institutions may share a Suspicious Activity Report, or the information contained therein, with an appropriate federal, state, or local law enforcement agency. Generally, an "appropriate law enforcement agency" is any agency that has jurisdiction under federal or state law to investigate or prosecute any person or entity involved in the transaction reported on the Suspicious Activity Report.


Examples of agencies to which a Suspicious Activity Report or the information contained therein could be provided include: … the Internal Revenue Service or tax enforcement agencies at the state level; …" Read more from the FinCEN guidance on p. 50.


Subscribe to Compliance Alliance's email newsletters for timely compliance updates and resources. Sign up for one of the live Compliance Alliance demos on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to learn more.



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Elevate Your HR Game!

HR Professionals Institute, Jekyll Island, March 20 - 22, 2024

Registration is now open for GBA’s annual HR Professionals Institute. Planned by GBA’s Human Resources Committee, Lance Whitley, Colony Bank, chair, the institute is the premier in-person learning experience for Georgia bank human resources professionals. Attendees will gain invaluable insights, strategies, and tools needed to excel in their careers. Get all the details and register here. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Ken Fehner

Marketing Conference and The Power of Video Workshop, Jekyll Island, March 20 - 22, 2024

Get the scoop on the latest bright ideas for marketing your bank and its products and services. Planned by GBA’s Marketing Committee, Haley Barnes, BankSouth Mortgage, chair, the GBA Marketing Conference has two components:

  • Our pre-conference workshop, presented by Ken Fehner, owner of The Social Gloo, will equip attendees with the knowledge and tools needed to create compelling videos for social media posts.


  • The traditional conference follows, with programming covering the full spectrum of skills, best practices, latest trends and good ideas for practitioners.

Attendees have the option to register for both workshop and conference, conference only or workshop only. Get all the details and register here. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Registration Now Open!

Bank Security Conference – King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St. Simons

Registration is now open for GBA’s annual Bank Security Conference, April 10-12. Planned by GBA’s Security Committee, Melissa Dasher, SouthState Bank, chair, the conference agenda will include a polices and procedures workshop, sessions on security technology and equipment, fraud, mental health, and more. Secure your spot today! Get all the details and register here.


With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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GBAIT Members, Don’t Forget You Have 24/7 Free Access to Telemedicine

Cold and flu season is here! Not feeling well? Avoid time-consuming and costly trips to the doctor’s office, urgent care clinic, or ER by calling SentryHealth Telemedicine at 877.293.9355. This virtual service is available to anyone covered on the GBAIT health plan, including spouses and dependents. Telemedicine can help you and your family avoid doctor's offices, added costs and copays. In most cases, you will be speaking with a doctor within 10 minutes, and the doctor can send prescriptions to your pharmacy of choice. Call 877.293.9355, ext. 2 anytime for telemedicine services. More details here.


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Enroll Now for 2024 Georgia Banking School, April 28 - May 3

Online enrollment is now available for the 2024 session of the Georgia Banking School, which will be April 28 - May 3 in at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel in Athens. For more than 60 years, the school has developed generations of Georgia bank leaders who shape the industry in our state. It offers everything you want and expect from an investment in banker education, specifically preparing the next generation of bank leaders, building the pool of management-level talent in your bank, and connecting students to the most knowledgeable industry experts and a community of fellow bankers. The Georgia Banking School Board, led by Darron Burnette of Synovus, has been hard at work reviewing the curriculum and planning next year’s session.


Georgia Banking School Details and Enrollment Access Here


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Establishing a Culture of Compliance, 8 Keys to Teller Excellence, Fair Lending Essentials 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 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.


Save Big in Q4 with GBA Partner BankTalentHQ

Navigating the challenges of talent acquisition and retention is a daily task for banks. Beginning Oct. 1, bank employers can take advantage of 20% off a single 30-day job posting package with GBA partner BankTalentHQ. See the promo offer below for more information. Why post with BankTalentHQ?

  • Tailored Audience: The platform caters specifically to banking professionals, ensuring that your job post reaches the right people.

  • High Visibility: Partnering with 40 state banking associations across the country and the American Bankers Association, BankTalentHQ works collaboratively to promote your postings and attract talent to the industry.

  • Easy-to-use: With its user-friendly platform, posting a job and tracking applicants is easy.

To redeem your savings, visit, create an employer profile, and enter the code SAVE20BTHQ at checkout. Or, if you would like to set up a meeting with a member of the BankTalentHQ team to learn more, please email




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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 s6onsor this content, let us know. Here's our latest installment:


Atlanta - Coastal States Bank

The bank sponsored the Georgia Festival of Trees in Atlanta.


Bremen - American Commerce Bank, N.A.

Bank employees donated more than $5,000 to the Haralson County Family Connection, helping them purchase Christmas gifts for needy kids in Haralson County, and the local police department, FOP Lodge 70, to help with their "Shop with a Cop" program.


Cordele - Planters First Bank

The bank made a donation to the Cordele Police Department for the Shop with A Cop event.


The bank also presented Crisp County Sheriff's Office with a check to help purchase bicycles for third-grade students as part of its annual Bicycle Safety Program.


Dublin - Bank of Dudley

The bank participated in this year’s Dublin Christmas Parade.


Loganville - Legacy State Bank

The bank sponsored two children in the Country Kids Camp Christmas program.


Maxeys - BankSouth

The bank sponsored the Maxeys Christmas Parade.



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GBA Newsmakers


Atlanta - BankSouth

Phil Cleaveland has joined the bank as relationship manager for the Atlanta market. Read more here.


Dublin - Morris Bank

Jeremy Pritchard, CTP, AAP, has joined the bank as its new Chief Deposit Officer. Read more here.


Fitzgerald - Colony Bank

The bank and its CEO Heath Fountain were selected by fellow Georgia business leaders as the latest goBeyondProfit Champion. Read more here.


Warner Robins - SunMark Community Bank

Daniel Payne has joined the bank as its Houston County market president. Read more here.


Atlanta - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Blake Lyons has been appointed executive vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Operations and Administrative Services Division, effective Dec. 1. Read more here.



Phil Cleaveland Jeremy Pritchard Colony Bank/Heath Fountain Daniel Payne Blake Lyons



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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