July 21, 2023  

Priority ACRE Bill Introduced in Senate

One of the national advocacy priorities for GBA this year for Chairman Kim Wilson, OneSouth Bank, is to support the Access to Credit for our Rural Economy Act (ACRE). The Senate version of the bill was introduced this week by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Angus King (I-Maine). The ACRE Act would level the playing field for banks competing with farm credit institutions by giving them the same tax-exempt status on certain earned interest. This would allow the banks to offer lower interest rates to farm real estate borrowers and rural homeowners. The exemption would also apply to single-family home mortgage loans in rural communities with fewer than 2,500 residents and for mortgages less than $750,000. This is the first time the Senate bill has bipartisan co-sponsorship. There’s a similar version already up for consideration by the House of Representatives. We’ll be encouraging Sens. Ossoff and Warnock to support the bill. Please reach out to them, as well.


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GBA Insurance Trust and Paragon Boards Meet

The volunteer boards of community bankers that govern the GBA Insurance Trust (GBAIT) and Paragon Benefits held their quarterly meetings this week in Columbus. The GBAIT board reviewed the Trust’s finances and operations and discussed possible new benefits offerings. GBAIT Chairman Rick Whaley, The Citizens Bank of Americus, provided a mid-year update earlier in the week to member bank CEOs, highlighting the Trust’s solid financial position, strong reserves, banker-led philosophy and professional team. He also emphasized that the Trust’s model is to underwrite risk across the entire membership, which shields members from volatile rate increases they would face as standalone small businesses. Read the letter here. Jackson McConnell, Pinnacle Bank, Elberton, chairs the Paragon Benefits board. They reviewed service levels for GBA and other clients, financials and growth opportunities. With questions or for more information about GBAIT and Paragon Benefits, reach out GBAIT President and CEO, Tripp Cofield, 617.909.9530.


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New Resource

Check Fraud Claim Directory Launched

With increased check fraud an ongoing challenge for banks, there’s a new tool available to help banks resolve check fraud claims more efficiently. The new Check Fraud Claim Directory aims to help banks nationwide find the right contact at participating institutions to help resolve a warranty breach claim. The directory lists contact information for banks that need to file a check warranty breach claim with another financial institution. It is searchable by bank name, city, state or FDIC number. All banks are eligible to submit contact information and to access the directory at no cost. We encourage members to sign up for and make use of this resource. GBA has been part of an industry working group that helped the ABA develop the directory. Get details here and submit your bank’s contact information to gain access.


Related: See below for information about the GBA Thumbprint Signature Program, another fraud-prevention tool


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Peanut Bank Week Order Deadline is Aug. 11

Georgia Peanut Bank Week, our industry’s annual salute to Georgia’s official state crop, is Oct. 16-20, so it’s time to sign up for this fun yearly event. This year’s theme is “Counting on Georgia Peanuts.” The Georgia Peanut Commission coordinates the campaign and makes lots of materials available for participating banks. The deadline to order promotional packs of peanuts is Aug. 11. With questions, contact Maddie Frost, Peanut Bank Week Coordinator, maddie@gapeanuts.com, 229-326-0141.

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Leader Updates

Student Loan Debt, Cook Re-nominated, Generative AI, Small Business Optimism

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

  • Student Loan Debt. Since the U.S. Supreme Court tossed President Biden’s plan to wipe out a big chunk of debt held by federal student loan borrowers, payments will be due on those loans come October for the first time since the pandemic began. With Georgia topping the list of number of debtors and largest average student loan, we shared some key info in case you get questions from your lenders:


1. If borrowers had auto-debit set up before the pandemic, they may need to set that up again or at least check to make sure they’re set up correctly.


2. The website for borrowers to login into their account is studentaid.gov.


3. If borrowers miss payments during the first year, they shouldn’t be reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to collection agencies.


  • Cook Re-nominated. President Biden re-nominated Milledgeville-native Lisa Cook to a full-14-year term on the Federal Reserve Board. Dr. Cook is the first African American woman to serve on the Federal Reserve Board.


  • Generative AI. We shared a slide deck from our friends at the National Journal outlining most of the complex issues that come with AI, approaches big data companies are taking and what some in Congress consider are the starting points for guide rails.


  • Small Business Optimism. The U.S. Chamber and MetLife conduct quarterly surveys among small business owners, and their second quarter survey released recently shows optimism is rising a little. Most of that optimism comes from these business owners saying revenues are expected to rise, and the difficulty of attracting talent is easing.

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


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2023 BankPAC Campaign Update

The 2023 BankPAC campaign had an exceptional week of fundraising and we are excited about the momentum of this year’s efforts. Materials were mailed to CEOs a few weeks ago and those materials are on GBA’s website for the contribution forms to the GBA StatePAC and FedPAC as well as a link to make your individual contribution online to the FedPAC. Members of the GBA BankPAC Board will be calling on you soon to encourage your participation in this very important work so that Georgia’s banking industry collectively has a seat at the table with our congressional delegation, members of the Georgia General Assembly and statewide elected officials. Many thanks to the banks below who made their contribution to the GBA StatePAC this week:

  • First National Bank, Bainbridge, Brad Barber, president and CEO

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

  • Altamaha Bank & Trust, Vidalia, Brent Sammons, president and CEO

  • Guardian Bank, Valdosta, Parrish Clark, CEO

  • Wilcox State Bank, Abbeville, Mike Durden, president and CEO

  • Bank of Madison, Charles Haney, president and CEO

  • American Pride Bank, Macon, John Hall, president and CEO

  • First American Bank & Trust, Athens, Rhodes McLanahan, president and CEO

  • Century Bank of Georgia, Cartersville, Rick Drews, CEO

  • First State Bank, Wrens, David Jopling, president and CEO

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

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

  • Georgia First Bank, Soperton, Maury Beasley, president and CEO

  • Altamaha Bank & Trust, Vidalia, Brent Sammons, president and CEO

  • American Pride Bank, Macon, John Hall, president and CEO

  • First American Bank & Trust, Athens, Rhodes McLanahan, president and CEO

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

  • Thomasville National Bank, Stephen Cheney, CEO

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


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Registration Now Open! Georgia BankPAC Golf Classic

Tee Off and Support a Good Cause

Are you a banker who loves to golf? Or maybe you just want to spend a beautiful fall day outside with your fellow bankers, directors, co-workers or legislators? Then you won't want to miss the 2023 Georgia BankPAC Golf Classic! This annual event is a great way to entertain customers, prospects or team members, and all proceeds go to the GBA StatePAC*. So whether you're a serious golfer or a weekend warrior, come out and support this important cause. Here's what you need to know:

  • The event will be Oct. 18 at the River Forest Club in Forsyth

  • 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

  • Additional sponsorships are available for $280

  • If you're not a golfer, don't worry, 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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Still Time to Join Us!



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Patrice Konarik

Hot Topic Webinar Aug. 10

IRA Update (IRS Notice 2023-54): Required Minimum Distribution for Owners and Beneficiaries

On July 14, the IRS issued IRS Notice 2023-54 containing important updates regarding Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). We have added a webinar to our August calendar to cover these updates. On Aug. 10, Attendee-favorite IRA trainer Patrice Konarik, president of Sunwest Training Corp., will teach participants:

  • What happens if the bank sent out an RMD Notice to those turning 72 this year and an RMD was taken in error?

  • What are the actual ages to start RMDs now and what does the Required Beginning Date mean?

  • What does the term 'mischaracterized RMD' really mean?

  • What is the deadline for putting the RMD back in the IRA and what is the process?

  • And much more...

Any employee and customer service rep who answers customer questions on IRAs and is not familiar with the new IRS Notice 2023-54 and its interpretation should attend this focused, informational session on the details and procedural changes for this latest IRS Notice effecting IRA distributions. Click here for more information and to register.


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Registration Open for Anti-phishing Campaign #BanksNeverAskThat

ABA’s award-winning anti-phishing campaign #BanksNeverAskThat will begin its fourth year on Oct. 2, at the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This year, BanksNeverAskThat.com will feature an interactive quiz and Scam City game, which will allow visitors to the site to test their scam-spotting skills. The campaign is also offering many of its toolkit resources in Spanish, along with a Spanish language website. Registration is free for all banks, and registered banks will get access to all campaign materials beginning in August to get ready for the kickoff on Oct. 2. Click here to register. Questions? Email banksneveraskthat@aba.com.


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Andy Keusal

Unique Lending Training – No Travel Needed

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

Registration is open for the Commercial Lending 201: Analyzing Repayment Sources virtual course coming up Sept. 7. 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.

Contact GBA’s Alison Moreau with questions about the online course.


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Customized for Georgia Law

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

A unique feature of our Opening New Accounts Seminar is that you can bring your bank’s signature cards, account agreements, resolutions and disclosures for thorough review. With a focus on documentation and compliance, this full-day seminar, customized to Georgia state law, teaches essential new account opening procedures, best practices, and compliance requirements.  It answers complex questions asked by customers and staff while focusing on vital information for every new account type. Join Suzie Jones of Training Resources Consulting and network with your peers for this fan favorite seminar. 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

GBA is excited to welcome Shannon Fortson, EVP, Chief Credit Officer of Pinnacle Bank, as the new leader for our Loan Documentation Seminar. Prevention of loan losses is crucial and begins with 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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More About GBA Partner BankMarketingCenter.com and ChatGPT

GBA partner BankMarketingCenter.com recently announced the addition of AI-assisted content development to its suite of solutions through the integration of ChatGPT. A short video showing how ChatGPT is integrated with the GBA-endorsed marketing portal can be seen here. With the addition of AI-assisted content development, banks can quickly generate written content they need for newsletters and blogs, including recommendations for the bank’s marketing calendar. To learn more about Bank Marketing Center, visit www.bankmarketingcenter.com or contact Neal Reynolds at 678.528.6688 or nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com. GBA members are eligible for a 20% discount on their subscription.


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BSA and Fraud Panel to Take Center Stage

Compliance Conference & HMDA Workshop, Oct. 18-20, Jekyll Island

One of the spotlight sessions for this year’s conference will be a panel of experts discussing the Bank Secrecy Act and a variety of bank fraud topics. GBA’s Compliance Committee would like to thank our panelists:

  • Taylor Fernandez, Postal Inspector Team Leader, United States Postal Inspection Service

  • Ruben Fernandez, Supervisory Special Agent, Department of Homeland Security

  • Melissa Sneed, Deputy Commissioner for Supervision, Georgia Department of Banking and Finance

  • Kristen Stogniew, Financial Institution Consulting Leader, Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund

Get all the details and register here.


Taylor Fernandez Ruben Fernandez Melissa Sneed Kristen Stogniew


We’d like to thank 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.

With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Sign Up Today!



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Protecting Your Bank from Check Fraud: When to Obtain a GBA Thumbprint Signature

Despite continuous developments in the technology to safeguard our money, we unfortunately continue to hear about regular cases of check fraud among our membership. It’s still happening at banks big and small. Your bank can lower the odds of being affected by participating in GBA’s Thumbprint Signature Program. The program was designed to deter check fraud by collecting a thumbprint “signature” from non-customers when cashing checks. A thumbprint signature should be obtained when:

  • A non-customer presents an on-us or not-on-us check for cashing. (This includes employees of commercial account customers who present payroll checks drawn on the bank

  • A non-customer presents an on-us check for exchange to a cashier’s check.

  • A non-customer presents a government check for cashing.

To learn more about participating in the Thumbprint Signature Program, please contact GBA’s Bo Brannen, 404.420.2014.


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Financial Risk Management Conference Lineup Takes Shape

Registration is open for the 2023 Financial Risk Management Conference, Nov. 2-3 at The Westin Buckhead Atlanta. Hosted annually by the GBA’s Asset/Liability Management Committee. The agenda features sessions including an economic update by Ryan Hayhurst of the Baker Group, a banker panel discussion about recent regulatory exams to be moderated by Jonathan Hightower of Fenimore Kay Harrison, a session about loan pricing & hedging and panels discussing funding alternatives and ALM & liquidity.


Ryan Hayhurst


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

  • Silver sponsorship: Carr Riggs & Ingram CPAs and Advisors; FHLBank Atlanta; ServisFirst Bank and Wiplfi LLP.

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Financial Wellness Available for GBA Retirement Services Participants

As part of our summer financial wellness campaign, members of the GBA Master Retirement Trust were reminded by email last week about the financial wellness tools provided by Financial Finesse. The link is live on our 401(k) site, and we encourage Trust members to promote this service to employees and begin using these tools. Flyers were also emailed to members this week so that you may share with employees so they know the benefits and how to access. Through American Trust’s partnership with Financial Finesse we are able to offer this product at no cost to our members. We believe this expansion on our platform will continue to help drive better outcomes for participants and lead to a more productive and less stressed workforce. This benefit is designed to drive financial literacy and help participants eliminate debt, save for college, lower stress and ultimately make better financial decisions. Trust members may access the tools today by visiting www.MyGBA401k.com or www.americantrust.com.  Please contact Mandy Richards, 404.420.2025, with any questions or for more information on 401(k) services available through GBA Retirement Services.


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Credit Conference - Nov. 30 - Dec. 1, The Westin Buckhead Atlanta

The premier gathering to get the latest intel on the state’s credit environment is planned by GBA’s Credit Committee. This year’s conference sessions will include:

  • Economic Update - Roger Tutterow, Henssler Financial Endowed Chair, professor of economics, Kennesaw State University

  • CRE - Cal Evans, senior director, Investor Relations & Market Intelligence, Synovus

  • Roundtable Discussion

  • Regulatory Update - Kevin Hagler, commissioner, Department of Banking and Finance, and Joe Brannen, president and CEO, Georgia Bankers Association

  • Dev Strischek, Principle, Devon Risk Advisory Group, LLC


Roger Tutterow Cal Evans Kevin Hagler Joe Brannen Dev Strischek


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; Qualtik and Wiplfi LLP.

Get all the details and register here.


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Compliance Alliance Question of The Week


Question: For 1071 purposes, if a business does not have a single individual owner with at least a 25% equity interest, do banks need to continue exploring the chain of ownership until they uncover ownership by natural persons just as they do with beneficial ownership requirements?


Answer: "A “principal owner” is an individual who directly owns 25% or more of the equity interests of a business. Thus, an applicant will have no more than four principal owners and may not have any principal owners if no natural person directly owns 25% or more of the equity interests of the business." Small Business Lending Final Rule Executive Summary. So, per this definition you do not need to drill down any further with 1071, while with beneficial ownership you would need to continue reviewing the ownership structure until you find individual owners.


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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Registration Now Open!

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, 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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Trust and Wealth Management Conference Opportunity

GBA members are eligible to participate at member rates to attend the Florida Bankers Association’s 64th Annual Trust and Wealth Management Conference coming up in September. To access this special opportunity, all you need to do is contact FBA’s Sheri Sanderson, at ssanderson@floridabankers.com. She can manually register you at the member rate and either take a CC payment by phone or send an invoice for payment. Full details on the Trust & Wealth event can be found below.

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Save the Date!



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AI Risks and Rewards Robbery Basics & Beyond, IRA Update 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:


Bulloch County - Bulloch First, a Division of The Citizens Bank of Swainsboro; Citizens Bank; Colony Bank; Morris Bank; Queensborough National Bank & Trust Company; Renasant Bank and Synovus Bank

Through July 21, these banks are collecting school supplies for the United Way of Southeast Georgia’s "Stuff The Bus" program. Pictured at right is the Bulloch First team. Read more here.


Cordele - Planters First Bank

The bank recently participated in the 2023 Back to School Bash sponsored by the Hawkinsville Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, Central Georgia Technical College, and the Hawkinsville-Pulaski County Family Connection group.


Greensboro - BankSouth

The bank recently contributed $100,000 to St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital through the Georgia HEART Hospital Program. Read more here.


Rome - River City Bank

The bank recently supported Brighter Birthdays, a local non-profit dedicated to providing underprivileged children with birthday bags, by donating 500 piggy banks. These will go in birthday bags filled with party supplies, treats, toys, and basic living essentials for children in our community.”



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GBA Newsmakers


Albany - Colony Bank

Jill Tilley has joined the bank as vice president, treasury solutions advisor. Read more here.


Atlanta - United Community Bank

The bank opened a new east Atlanta branch at 1220 Caroline Street NE, Suite A-105. The branch opened on June 26 and features Atlanta’s second Interactive Teller Machine (ITM), with the first one being at the bank’s branch in Buckhead.


Chatsworth - First National Community Bank

Rex Rutledge has joined the bank as senior vice president and Tennessee regional president for its Chattanooga, TN, loan production office. The bank also welcomed Craig S. Miller as senior vice president and commercial banking relationship manager, Kitty Griffith as senior vice president and commercial banking relationship manager and Amber Hagen as portfolio manager. Read more here.


Columbus - Synovus Bank

Charlie Clark has been named president of the community bank, effective July 10. In this new position, Clark will advance the community bank’s geography-based delivery model. This includes management of local leadership across the bank’s five-state footprint.


Douglas - Pineland Bank

Scott Miller, Heather Nelson, Melissa Vickers, and Jarrod Spivey have joined the bank team in its Douglas branch.


Perry - SunMark Community Bank

Terry Foster has joined the bank’s Houston Lake branch teller team.


Pensacola and Tampa, FL - Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund

Jay Newsome, CPA, has joined the firm as a senior manager in its Financial Institution Consulting Group. Read more here.



Jill Tilley Rex Rutledge Charlie Clark


Pineland Bank Terry Foster Jay Newsome



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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