Feb. 17, 2023 

Shane Walley

This Week in the General Assembly

We’ll report all the details about the goings on at the State Capitol in this week’s Legislative Update, so be looking for that in your inbox midday Friday. This was a busy week for GBA’s advocacy team – and member bankers are critical players on that team. Thanks to River City Bank’s Shane Walley for testifying before the Small Business Development Committee this week on the real estate market. Nothing like local, real-world knowledge being shared with legislators as they're working hard to keep Georgia's economy humming. One of the bills containing GBA-requested language regarding probate cleared the House. We’ve been spending most of our time talking one-on-one with legislators helping educate them why we’re opposing the bill that prohibits charging interchange fees on the sales tax portion of debit and credit card transactions. Please help us by reaching out to your legislators as they’re hearing from retailers for sure. What we’re saying is bankers are getting paid through interchange to keep the payments system working, and some of that money should not be taken from you and simply handed over to the retailers to cover their costs collecting and remitting sales tax for the state. We’ve also added several bills to our tracking list ranging from new protections for renters to the regulation of the title pawn industry. With questions, contact GBA’s EVP for Government Relations & Advocacy, Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.


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Hail to the Winners of BankPAC Sporting Clays Shoot

We had a big crowd at last Thursday’s Georgia BankPAC Sporting Clays Tournament, and everyone had a great time. Thanks again to Peach State Bank’s Candice Nanney and the entire Leadership GBA Board for coordinating and hosting this year’s event. Let’s give a big hand to the winners at this year’s shoot:

  • Highest Team Score: A perfect 400 for The Claxton Bank team of Michael Clark, Jasper Copelan, Landon Deloach and Dylan Thompson.

  • Highest Individual Score: Michael Clark

  • Cotton Drop: Daniel Williams, United Bank

  • Long Bird: Three-way tie between Michael Clark, Jasper Copelan and Stephen Tribble, Citizens Bank of Georgia.

The Claxton Bank team

Michael Clark


And, a final thank-you to our sponsors: Banc Card of America; Bank of Madison; BHG Financial; Cash Transactions LLC (CashTrans); Citizens Bank of Americus; CSRA Business Lending; FHLBank Atlanta; First American Bank & Trust; First National Bank; Georgia Community Bank; Great Oaks Bank; ICI Consulting; Mauldin & Jenkins; Morris Bank; Northeast Georgia Bank; Peach State Bank & Trust; Planters First Bank; Point to Point Environmental; Securitas Financial Services, Inc.; Steve H. Powell & Company; The Piedmont Bank; and United Bank. It’s not too soon to mark your calendar for next year’s tournament, Feb. 8, 2024, at Old Hudson Plantation. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


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2023 Ops/Tech Conference

Leadership Development, Cybersecurity, Enterprise Strategy, FEDNow, Vendor Management and Open Banking took Center Stage

Members attending the GBA Operations and Technology Conference last week were treated last week to three days of great speakers focused on helping banks better use technology. The content was locked in on ways to best serve customers, educate their boards and the communities they serve, and develop staff within the bank. And with a capacity crowd, the networking and peer connections provided even more value to members, Associate Member firms represented and exhibitors. See photos from the conference here. Thanks to the leadership of the GBA Operations and Technology Committee, the Chair Tracy NeSmith, Planters First Bank, and Vice-Chair Shan Venable, Altamaha Bank and Trust Company, in planning and hosting the conference. Thanks to all 22 GBA Associate Members who exhibited in the trade hall and our four fantastic conference sponsors, Empyean Solutions, NContracts, Fiserv and 5iron.



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Leader Updates

Labor Insights, Interchange, Senior Lender Sentiment, Digital Banking and M&A Trends

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

  • Labor participation: Some resources and charting explaining some of the trends driving low unemployment and why the labor participation rate remains a percentage point below pre-pandemic levels.


  • Interchange on sales tax bill: A summary of SB 126, introduced for the retailers (Home Depot, Walmart, grocery store chains, gas and convenience stores, mom and pop merchants, etc.). If passed, interchange fees on debit or credit cards cannot be charged on the sales tax portion of retail transactions. Lots more about this in Friday’s Legislative Update.


  • Senior lender sentiment down: A quick look at the Fed’s fourth-quarter Senior Lending Officer survey, which noted some broad-based credit tightening and slowing loan demand. We’ll be interested to hear feedback about statewide trends from our Senior Lending Officer Roundtables coming up Feb. 27-March 2.


  • Digital banking attitudes: A look at a study by Chase about digital banking trends.


  • M&A update: A briefing paper from Michael Rediker with our Associate Member firm Olsen Palmer with some insight about slowing M&A activity.

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


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Northwestern Mutual Acquires GBA Strategic Partner EBS Services, LLC (EBS)

GBA Services, Inc. is pleased to announce exciting news about GBA Strategic Partner EBS, www.ebscomp.com. EBS is exclusively recommended by the GBA as our Third-Party Administrator (TPA) servicing Non-Qualified Benefit Plans and BOLI life insurance contracts sold by a select group of leading Northwestern Mutual advisors that specialize in the bank market. Northwestern Mutual has announced the acquisition of EBS, showcasing their strong commitment to the bank BOLI and Executive Benefit market as part of the company’s long term growth strategy.


Northwestern Mutual selected EBS based on the significant scope of the firm’s current book of business, the operational maturity and scalability of its platform, and the deep expertise of the EBS team members. We echo Northwestern Mutual’s confidence in the EBS business model based on the feedback of their many Georgia clients and prospects. They have a strong history of exemplary service, transparency and attention to the safety and soundness of the data they are trusted with. We are constantly discussing the importance banks and regulators place on vendor management. Northwestern Mutual, one of the strongest and largest life insurance companies in the world, solidifies the strength, reputation, investment and long-term legacy of EBS. “EBS clients will notice little change in the support and services. They will continue to work with the same people they have in the past. All of the EBS support staff are being retained in their current roles,” said EBS partner Michael Pounds.


EBS will operate as a unique entity by Northwestern Mutual. EBS advisors will continue to offer the most appropriate products and insurance carriers based on the circumstances and needs of each bank they serve. We continue to value our long-term relationship and partnership with EBS, strengthened even more by the Northwestern Mutual acquisition. With questions, contact Michael Pounds at mpounds@ebscomp.com or 205.949.4067.


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Lance Whitley

GBA Member Profile

The Business of Risk, Steep Climbs and Flexibility as a Key to Success with Lance Whitley

As an HR professional, Lance Whitley, SVP, chief people officer at Colony Bank, was taught to always avoid risk, which posed some challenges when he entered the banking industry. “A wise banker and friend reminded me that we are in the business of risk, and that all we can do is reduce the risk as much as possible so that we can continue to move forward,” Whitley said. Embracing that philosophy, Whitley enjoys how every day brings something new in his professional life, whether it is banking- or HR-related. “Whatever we are doing today, we should be prepared to change things up tomorrow,” he said. The vice chair of the GBA Human Resources Committee, Whitley shares about his recent trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, love of travel and national parks and more in his GBA Member Profile.


Related: Hotel Deadline Approaching!

HR Professionals Institute, March 22-24, The King & Prince, St. Simons

Bank HR pros should be sure to make their hotel reservations by Feb. 21 for this year’s GBA HR Professionals Institute! Planned by GBA’s HR Committee, the conference agenda is designed to deliver the resources every HR professional needs. Our fan-favorite roundtable discussion will be moderated by GBA’s member profile of the week, Lance Whitley. The HR Professionals Institute will be March 22-24 at The King & Prince, St. Simons. Click here to see the full agenda and to register. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Register Today!

Compliance Peer Group, March 7 at Middle Georgia State University

Organized by GBA’s Compliance Committee, this is one networking opportunity you don’t want to miss. Led by compliance specialist Sebrina Sweeney of Sweeney Compliance Group, attendees can submit topics during registration to generate discussion among their peers about common pain points and audit findings. Attendees will walk away with best practices they can implement to strengthen their bank's compliance management program. Get all the details and register here. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Leadership Conference Registration and Room Block Opening Soon!

We’re already looking forward to the annual Leadership Conference, July 10-12 (July 13 travel day) at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra, Florida. Registration and the room block will open soon, so watch your email for an announcement. We’ll also post an announcement on the GBA website and in the GBA E-Bulletin. This conference is valued by Georgia’s emerging bank leaders for its excellent educational slate, colleague sharing time, informal networking opportunities and relaxing family time. We’ll share more about this year’s educational sessions in upcoming issues. Be sure your bank or company is represented at this year’s event! Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions about the conference.


Speaking of Leadership GBA: There will be five vacancies on the Leadership GBA Board of Directors as of July 1 (one from each of our three geographical groups, North, Central, and South; one Associate Member, and one At-Large member). If you are an active participant and supporter of Leadership GBA’s efforts, we invite you to nominate someone for the board, or to self-nominate. Click here for more information, featured in last week’s bulletin. If you’d like to discuss this opportunity or be connected with a current board member to discuss, contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad.  The deadline to submit the volunteer/nomination form is April 11. 


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Last Call! Fundamentals of Commercial Lending Webinar - Feb. 23, Zoom

Commercial banking can be intimidating because of its complexity and the risk-oriented nature of the work. This course presented by Andy Keusal, Keusal Learning, 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. This webinar will be held via Zoom on Thursday, Feb. 23, from 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. The recording will be available to registered participants for one month after the live training. Click here to access the event website with everything you need to know. Here’s a message from the speaker:



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Hotel Deadline Approaching!

Marketing Conference & Creative Workshop, The King & Prince, St. Simons

Planned by GBA’s Marketing Committee, led by Chair Anna Grant JonesPinnacle Bank, and Vice Chair Haley BarnesBankSouth Mortgage, the Marketing Conference program is jammed packed, delivering the tools every marketing professional needs to sharpen their skills!  The conference is March 22-24, at the King and Prince. The deadline for the special room rate is Feb. 21, so don’t delay. Get details and register here. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Pete Stuart

Bank Security Conference, April 12-14, The Westin, Jekyll Island

Active Shooter Training one of Many Valuable Sessions

Planned by GBA’s Security Committee, the Security Conference Agenda will provide bank security professionals the tools necessary to execute their bank’s security program!  One highlight of the conference will be a session given by committee member Pete Stuart on active shooter training. This presentation will help attendees understand the importance of developing an emergency response training plan to provide the mindset critical to surviving an active shooter incident. Get the training you need to train your employees and prepare your bank for what to do if the unthinkable happens. This conference is for bank security officers and staff at all levels as well as anyone with security responsibilities at the bank. Click here for details and to register. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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GBA Schools – First Year Registration Early Bird Pricing Ends Soon

Early-bird tuition pricing for first year Georgia Banking School students and Compliance School Year 1 ends March 1. 

  • School Term: April 30 - May 5

  • Where: UGA Center for Continuing Education and Hotel in Athens

Georgia Banking School. Since 1961, the GBA-sponsored school has been a highly effective resource for developing the leadership talents of Georgia bankers. Planned by the Georgia Banking School Board of Directors, the school’s mission is to prepare first- and mid-level managers to effectively and profitably serve the public. Here's what Ryan Martin, Senior Vice President and Savannah Market President at Truist and 2022 Georgia Banking School Graduate of Distinction, had to say about his school experience.


Learn More About Georgia Banking School Here


GBA Compliance School Year 1 – Building the Base. Planned by GBA’s Compliance School Board, the GBA Compliance School is a two-year program designed to give new and experienced compliance pros the tools necessary to build, monitor and maintain an effective compliance program. Year 1 begins this year, so don’t miss this opportunity to join this program and gain the fundamentals required to ensure a solid compliance management program.


Learn More About the GBA Compliance School Here


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Spring Seminars, Middle Georgia State University, Macon

GBA is hosting a variety of one-day seminars taught by the experts you know and trust – register today!

  • Back by popular demand, Mike Allen will present the Personal Cash Flow Seminar, March 29. Through a combination of lecture and casework, participants will learn how to calculate sources and uses of personal cash flow.

  • The Call Reporting Seminar, April 19, presented by Michael GordonMauldin & Jenkins, will equip you with practical techniques and resources to improve your overall call reporting process.

  • Learn what’s needed to prevent loan losses through the implementation of proper loan structuring and documentation techniques at the Loan Documentation Seminar, April 26, presented by Mike Allen

  • The fan favorite seminar The Information Security Officer 101 is back on April 27. IT security experts Josh Dasher and Emily StricklandSafe Systems, will take a deep dive into the “why” and “how” of the ISO's role.

With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


Allen Gordon Dasher Strickland


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Rural Development & Lending Conference, May 18-19

Register Today – Rural Development & Lending Conference

Registration is open for the GBA 2023 Rural Development and Lending Conference May 18-19 at the King & Prince, St. Simons. Agenda sessions will include: a livestock update, ag regulatory update, crop insurance, peanuts, a farm bill update and a cotton update. Thanks to the GBA Agricultural Committee, led by its Chair Rachel Thompson, Bank of Newington, and Vice Chair Matt Rushton, AB&T, for their work on the agenda. Plan to get registered and secure your hotel reservation today. For more information about hotel and to register, click here.


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Col. Kurt Wendt, USAF Academy Director of Center for Character and Leadership Development to Close Annual Meeting

Col. Kurt Wendt

Growing up in small-town Wisconsin, Col. Kurt Wendt was not sure what he wanted to do for a career. He did know, however, that he wanted to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy. Wendt said he probably didn’t really know what all that meant, but, reflecting on his career, he says he made the right decision. That decision has allowed Wendt to travel all over the world, immersing himself in different cultures and building his leadership capabilities. Wendt started his career as an intelligence officer and deployed in support of numerous operations worldwide. We’re thrilled to have Col. Wendt as our closing speaker at the GBA Annual Meeting, June 18-20 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Wendt is now the director of the Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD) at the Air Force Academy. The CCLD’s efforts directly impact future leaders by preparing them to live honorably, lift others and elevate performance. He said the core values are the foundation of the academy because they apply to everyone across the institution. “The number-one priority of the U.S. Air Force Academy is developing leaders of character, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” Wendt said.*  Don’t miss what is sure to be an inspiring and impactful message! Click here for all annual meeting information. Click here to reserve a sponsorship and click here to reserve an exhibit booth. A big shout-out to our event sponsors: Presenting Sponsor: Safe Systems, Inc.; Platinum Sponsors: Fenimore Kay Harrison LLP; FHN Financial; ServisFirst Bank; Gold Sponsors: American Bankers Association (ABA); CRS Data; First National Bankers Bank; McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co., Inc.; Profit Resources, Inc. (PRI); Steve H. Powell & Company; Troutman Pepper; and Silver Sponsors: Crowe; Elliott Davis; FHLBank Atlanta; Holmes Shaw Agency – A Member of the PointeNorth Insurance Group; Mauldin & Jenkins; Nichols Cauley & Assoc.; Point to Point Environmental; United Bankers’ Bank; and Warren Averett. With questions, contact Kathy Friestad, 404.420.2024.


*Wendt was interviewed by Senior Airman Michael Ward, U.S. Air Force Academy Strategic Communications.


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ACH Rules, Avoiding Check Fraud Liability, ACH Basics & Refresher 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, kprokos@gabankers.com, and David Oliver, doliver@gabankers.com, or if your company would like to sponsor this content, let us know. Here's our latest installment:


Cochran - The Citizens Bank of Cochran

Bank team members Matt Fordham and BJ Coody recently visited the eighth-grade class at Bleckley County Middle School to teach the students about the economy and budgeting.



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GBA Newsmakers


Athens - Classic City Bank

Colin Stokes was recently appointed president and CEO of the bank.


Atlanta - Georgia Banking Company

An interview with bank CEO Bartow Morgan was recently published in CEOCFO Magazine. Read the article here.


Hawkinsville - Planters First Bank

Our condolences to John Way, Bob Way, Cole Woodroof, Gray Way, Elizabeth Chandler, their family and the Planters First Bank team on the recent death of their father, father-in-law, grandfather and uncle, Samuel Albert Way, III. Way was a director and chairman emeritus at the bank, and his leadership as president of the bank beginning in 1978 was instrumental in the company’s growth and success. Read more here.


Sandy Springs - Signature Bank of Georgia

The bank recently announced a “Go and Grow Strategy,” kicked off and headed by its new CEO, Charlie Brown. Read more here.


Suwanee/Asheville, NC - Quantum National Bank/HomeTrust Bank

HomeTrust Bancshares, Inc., the holding company of HomeTrust Bank, on Feb. 13 announced that its merger with Quantum Capital Corp. was completed as of Feb. 12. As part of the transaction, Quantum Capital Corp.'s subsidiary, Quantum National Bank, has merged with and into HomeTrust's subsidiary, HomeTrust Bank. HomeTrust will continue to operate Quantum National Bank’s branch offices under the Quantum National Bank name until the systems conversion scheduled for mid-March 2023. Read more here.


Atlanta - Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta

Board members elected R. Thornwell Dunlap III, president and chief executive officer of Countybank in Greenwood, SC, and Suzanne S. DeFerie, member of the board of directors of First Bank, a subsidiary of First Bancorp in Southern Pines, NC, to two-year terms as chair and vice chair, respectively, of Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta’s board of directors. Read more here.


Atlanta - Troutman Pepper

Wayne Bradley and Ann-Marie Notaro have joined the law firm’s national Corporate Practice Group in Atlanta. Read more here.


Tampa and Pensacola, FL - Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund

The accounting firm recently won ClearlyRated's Best of Accounting® Award. Read more here.



Colin Stokes Bartow Morgan Sam Way Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund



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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