March 3, 2023

Georgia Bank Performance Good in 2022

The 147 Georgia-based FDIC-insured banks earned slightly more than $2 billion in 2022, a 2.6% increase over 2021 results. Loans showed strong growth of 10.3%, assets grew by almost 1% and credit quality remained strong. Total deposits declined by 1.9%, which was not unexpected as pandemic-era stimulus funds on deposit dwindled, inflation affected prices for gas and consumer goods, and savers took advantage of higher rates being paid on some deposit products by national online banks and brokered CDs. There were also three fewer banks reporting at year-end 2022 compared to 2021. Key performance ratios for the Georgia banking industry topped national aggregates in a number of categories, including net interest margin, return on equity, leverage and the percentage of banks with gains in earnings. “The strong loan growth and continued strong credit quality are particularly encouraging signs that Georgia’s banks continue to serve the needs of families and businesses, and that our economy is holding up in an uncertain environment,” said Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO. For a look at the national results, click here.


Year-to-date results




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Net Charge-Offs to Loans & Leases




Return on Assets




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Noncurrent Loans & Leases to Total Loans & Leases




Leverage (Core Capital) Ratio




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Legislature Moves Priority Bill; Holds Interchange Bill

The Georgia General Assembly’s work days are getting longer as legislators are working hard to get their sponsored bills voted on by their chamber of origin. This coming Monday is Crossover Day that’s always a long day as traditionally, that’s the last day a bill can pass the chamber of origin to be considered by the other chamber. In other news this week, the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee reported GBA’s priority bill, which is the Banking Department’s annual housekeeping bill. The Committee also held a second hearing on the bill introduced at the request of retailers to prohibit interchange fees from being assessed on the sales tax portion of transactions. The Committee did not take a vote to move the bill forward. Many other bills we’re tracking saw action, so be watching for the Legislative Update we’ll publish Friday on all the action this week. With questions, contact Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.


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Attention Attorneys!

Status of Important Cases - March 2023

The ABA Newsbytes Banking Docket for March 2023 is now available. Click here for the details of the status of important cases. (Scroll down to access additional details on the issues, case summaries and links to related documents.)


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Advocacy in the Accounting Classroom

Our thanks to Tim Keadle, who invited GBA President and CEO Joe Brannen to be a guest presenter Thursday at his graduate-level Accounting in Practice class at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business School of Accounting. Keadle, a past GBA board member and retired banking accountant, has been on the faculty for many years, and Brannen has presented to the class several times. Brannen gave an industry update and spoke about the roles of associations like GBA in advocacy, especially as we interact with accounting policy setters like the Financial Accounting Standards Board and bank regulators. He also encouraged the students to get involved with their own professional organizations as they enter the workforce and to consider careers in banking. “It is energizing to be in the classroom, especially at my Alma Mater. It was fun to share the story of Georgia banking, give the students a rare glimpse at how policy affecting their future careers is set, and explain the role associations like GBA play in shaping things,” Brannen said.


Accounting in Practice class Joe Brannen and Tim Keadle


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David Oliver on WXIA TV

GBA Consumer Advocacy

Check Fraud in the Spotlight

We appreciated the opportunity recently to be a resource for a news story on Atlanta’s WXIA TV about how consumers can protect themselves from check fraud. The story was about the increase in check washing and theft of checks from mailboxes. GBA’s David Oliver provided background and on-air comments about the significant investment in training and technology banks make to protect customers and bank assets, as well as tips for consumers dealing with fraud. Access the story here. The story was timely, as just this week FinCen issued an alert to financial institutions about the rise in check fraud, noting a 23% increase in SAR-reports related to check fraud from 2020 to 2021, the most recent data available.



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, contact Bo Brannen, 404.420.2014.


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Sheryl Reed

GBA Member Profile

The Importance of Finding the Right Person and Guiding New Talent with Sheryl Reed

Sheryl Reed's first banking job came before she started college, and her career journey has taken her from trust services, to retail and commercial banking and now to her current role as Queensborough National Bank & Trust's EVP, Chief Human Resource Officer. “My bank team members are my internal customers,” she said. “I feel that a positive employee experience has a direct impact on our customers and includes a focus on flexibility, wellness and career development.” A former chair and current member of GBA’s HR Committee, Reed continues to adapt her human resources management tactics. She recommends the book “WHO,” which gives recommendations on refocusing on your company’s recruiting approach. “It’s definitely about getting the right person in the right seat on the team,” she says. Reed discusses her desire to see all talent guided and nurtured, her love of offshore fishing and more in the latest GBA Member Profile.


Related: Only a few weeks away – don’t miss out!

HR Professionals Institute, March 22-24, St. Simons

Planned by GBA’s HR Committee led by Chair Terry Kennedy, Exchange Bank, and Vice Chair Lance Whitley, Colony Bank, this year’s conference agenda includes sessions on HR leadership, culture, new required employee reporting, a legal update, workplace violence and more! Click here to see the full agenda and to register. Thank you to our sponsor, SentryHealth, formerly known as Wellview. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Last Call!

Compliance Peer Group, March 7 in Macon

Join your peers and learn from each other at our Compliance Peer Group. 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.  Registration includes lunch. Get all the details and register here. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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GBA Partner StrategyCorps

How Are Bankers Planning for 2023 Revenue Challenges? Live Webinar March 9
@ 2 p.m.

Banking industry researchers, investors and analysts are telling a consistent story - 2023 could be a challenging year for banks. This begs the question, what are banking executives thinking and what are they planning to do to face potential challenges? GBA partner StrategyCorps recently surveyed hundreds of bankers to find out some answers. You can join them on Thursday, March 9, at 2 p.m. for a free and insightful 30-minute discussion about their survey results from bankers like you (with a little color commentary). Here’s what will be discussed:

  • The top five revenue concerns

  • Action plans for dealing with each of these concerns

  • Examples of how some bankers are already responding

StrategyCorps Executive Mike Branton will present the survey results. Click here to get signed up. Contact Ryan Harbry, 404.819.1438, to learn more.


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New Resource for Helping Underserved Small Businesses

GBA members have access to a new online resource from the American Bankers Association that can help you and small businesses you may be trying to work with access special purpose credit programs (SPCPs). This online resource is available for all banks and other stakeholders to increase awareness of these programs and share technical insights to support successful special purpose credit programs specifically designed for small businesses. The webpage outlines how SPCPs work and features a checklist for banks to follow when developing a plan to offer these programs. It also showcases a case study of a bank that successfully launched an SPCP. To learn more about SPCPs and best practices for offering them, visit


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SECURE Act 2.0 - What’s Next for 401(k) Plan Sponsors?

The SECURE Act 2.0 retirement legislation was signed into law late last year. While many of the changes won’t become effective for a few years, there are certain provisions available now that plan sponsors may need to be aware of, including the following provisions:

  • The RMD age for starting distributions from 401(k) Plans and IRAs has increased to age 73 effective as of Jan. 1, 2023. If the participant was age 72 before 2023, the required RMD age remains at 72.

  • Plan sponsors now have the option to rely on a participant’s self-certification of a hardship withdrawal without requiring supporting documentation. However, employers may continue to require the documentation if they prefer.

  • Participants who need a withdrawal from the plan due to terminal illness may take a withdrawal and avoid the 10% penalty.

  • Disaster relief withdrawal rules that became effective in 2021 remain in place and provide a waiver of 10% penalty for certain qualified disaster distributions, increased loan amounts allowed (at the employer’s discretion), etc.

  • Small employers with less than 50 employees that start a new 401(k) plan in 2023 have an increased tax credit of up to 100% (with cap of $5,000) for administrative expenses related to the start up of the plan. An additional credit is provided for 5 years up to $1000 per employee equal to the applicable percentage of eligible employer contributions to an eligible defined contribution plan.

  • The original SECURE Act required employers to allow long-term, part-time workers to participate in its 401(k) Plan if the employee worked 500 or more hours for 3 consecutive years. Effective with the start of the 2021 plan year, employers should calculate hours to determine employees who work 500 hours in a year. If employees worked 500 hours in 2021, 2022 and will again in 2023, they must be allowed to participate in 2024. Beginning in 2025, the three-year requirement will change to two years of having 500 hours or more. For this reason, employers may consider removing an hours’ requirement for participation in their plan and instead just having a period of time, such as three months of service with no hours’ condition.   

Read a full summary to include other upcoming changes in future years here. GBA Retirement Services will continue to monitor the new law and will update our Trust members of any changes affecting their 401(k) plans. Contact Mandy Richards, 404.420.2025, for more information or to request a proposal of services for your existing 401(k) plan.


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Marketing Conference and Creative Workshop, March 22-24

Planned by GBA’s Marketing Committee, led by Chair Anna Grant Jones, Pinnacle Bank, and Vice Chair Haley Barnes, BankSouth Mortgage, the Marketing Conference program will reach record attendance! Introducing a new format, the Marketing Conference has two components this year – A pre-conference workshop will jumpstart the program and the traditional Marketing Conference will follow. Attendees have the option to register for both workshop and conference, conference only, or workshop only. See the detailed agenda and register here. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Seminar Spotlight

Personal Cash Flow Seminar - March 29 in Macon

Back by popular demand, Mike Allen, a faculty member of the Georgia Banking School with more than 40 years of industry experience, will cover the A-Zs of how to analyze personal cash flow and personal tax returns at the Personal Cash Flow Seminar, March 29 at Middle Georgia State University in Macon. This program is designed for consumer lenders, commercial lenders, and credit analysts/underwriters. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Offered by more than 120 Community Banks Today

GBA Endorses ServisFirst Bank’s Agent Credit Card Program

GBA is proud to recommend the agent credit card program offered by ServisFirst Bank. ServisFirst currently issues cards for more than 120 community banks in the country. Through the program, GBA members can issue credit cards to their customers, both commercial and retail, with their bank’s logo. ServisFirst provides a simple, straightforward program that includes credit card marketing and portfolio management services at no cost to the bank. Get more details about the ServisFirst Bank agent card program contacting ServisFirst’s Tim Finney, 478.952.6497, or Karen Grahn, 205.949.0330.


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CEO Panel at Annual Meeting to Focus on New Generation of Bank Leaders

The CEO panel is always one of the most highly anticipated general sessions of the GBA annual meeting. This year’s session will feature the perspectives of relatively new and younger CEOs in a discussion to be facilitated by past GBA chairman Jackson McConnell of Pinnacle Bank. The panel will feature Susan Moss, president and CEO of Planters & Citizens Bank; Perry Revell, CEO of AB&T; and Colin Stokes, president and CEO of Classic City Bank. Don’t miss what promises to be an insightful and informative session. This year’s Annual Meeting is June 18-20 at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO. Click here for details and to register. Our room block at the Broadmoor no longer has rooms on Tuesday night, June 20. We recommend requesting to be waitlisted with the hotel for Tuesday night and securing other available nights for your stay. Or, click here for information on our alternate hotel, Cheyenne Mountain Resort. Thank you to these Associate Members supporting the event through sponsorship: Presenting Sponsor: Safe Systems, Inc.; Platinum Sponsors: EBS; Fenimore Harrison Kay LLP; FHN Financial; ServisFirst Bank; Gold Sponsors: American Bankers Association; CRS Data; First National Bankers Bank; McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co., Inc.; Profit Resources, Inc.; Steve H. Powell & Co.; Troutman Pepper; Silver Sponsors: Crowe; Elliott Davis; Holmes Shaw Agency - A Member of the PointeNorth Insurance Group; Jack Henry; Mauldin & Jenkins; Nichols Cauley & Assoc.; Point to Point Environmental; United Bankers’ Bank; and Warren Averett CPAs & Advisors. Contact Kathy Friestad, 404.420.2024, with questions.


Susan Moss Perry Revell Colin Stokes


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Celebrate Your Bankers

50-Year Bankers to be Recognized at Annual Meeting

GBA looks forward to recognizing Georgia bankers who have devoted 50 years or more of service to the industry every year at our annual meeting and throughout the year with personal or virtual visits to hometown recognition ceremonies when possible. Help us add to the growing list we’re already compiling for recognition this year’s Annual Meeting at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. If you know or are someone who is hitting the milestone this year, please let us know! Please send an email to Kathy Friestad with the following information:

  • Banker’s name and current title

  • Bank name

  • His/her years of service and brief work history

  • Photograph of banker to be recognized

  • Name of the nominating banker

  • Details about any scheduled recognition events planned by your bank.

This information must be received by May 13. Please contact Kathy at 404.420.2024 with questions.


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Bank Security Conference, April 11-12, Jekyll Island

USPS Inspector Added to Agenda to Discuss Mail Fraud

Planned by GBA’s Security Committee, the Security Conference agenda is jammed packed with what every bank security professional needs to sharpen their skills. Our closing session this year will cover the hot topic of mail theft, and given the recent FinCEN alert about check fraud, you don’t want to miss it. Postal Inspector Keith Speers of the United States Postal Service will discuss the schemes and tactics thieves are using and what banks can do to mitigate fraud loss. This conference is planned 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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Call Report Seminar, April 19 at Middle Georgia State University, Macon

Sign up for our next Call Report Seminar April 19, which will be presented by Mauldin & Jenkins’ experts, Michael Gordon, Nicole Cunningham and Bill Curtis. These experts will equip you with practical techniques and resources to improve your overall call reporting process. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


Michael Gordon Nicole
Bill Curtis


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Information Security Officer Seminar, April 27 at Middle Georgia State University, Macon

The regulatory mandate for the Information Security Officer can be exhausting… where to begin? Join us for the Information Security Officer seminar on April 27 to get your questions answered! IT security experts Josh Dasher and Emily Strickland, Safe Systems, Inc., will explore the exam expectations for information security and the skills an ISO needs for success. Thank you to our sponsor, Safe Systems, Inc. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Loan Documentation Seminar, April 26 at Middle Georgia State University, Macon

Learn the fine art of perfecting loan documentation for your institution at GBA’s Loan Documentation Seminar, April 26, presented by Mike Allen, fan favorite faculty member for the Georgia Banking School. Allen will share the secrets of what’s needed to prevent loan losses through the implementation of proper loan structuring and documentation techniques. With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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Register Now for GBA Leadership Conference

Registration for GBA’s 2023 Leadership Conference opened this week. Planned and organized by the Leadership GBA Board of Directors, this year’s conference will be July 10-12 at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. Built for your bank or company’s emerging leaders, the conference will feature educational sessions led by experienced bankers, industry experts and leadership professionals. Networking time is purposefully built into the schedule to facilitate strong peer relationships and family time. Families are encouraged to attend, and children may attend both evening events (additional fee). If you’re a newly appointed C-suite banker, senior officer, department head, business development officer, or if you have community or government relations responsibilities, this conference is for you. GBA Associate Members, Strategic Partners, and Bank Counsel and Bank Accountant members are invited to attend, as well, and to support the conference through sponsorship or exhibiting. Exhibit space and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Click here to explore the conference website, register, see hotel information, or reserve your exhibit booth or sponsorship. Make your hotel plans soon, as this is a very popular conference and summertime is the busiest time for resort properties. A huge shout-out to our sponsors: Presenting Sponsor: CSRA Business Lending; Gold Sponsors: FHLBank Atlanta; Fenimore Kay Harrison LLP; First National Bankers Bank; Point to Point Environmental; ServisFirst Bank; Steve H. Powell & Company; Silver Sponsors: Holmes Shaw Agency - A Member of the PointeNorth Insurance Group; McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co., Inc.; Troutman Pepper and Wipfli. Questions? Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad, 404.420.2024.


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Shane Stephens

Rural Development & Lending Conference, May 18-19

Cotton Outlook Session Set

Registration is open for the GBA 2023 Rural Development and Lending Conference May 18-19 at the King & Prince, St. Simons. Shane Stephens, VP, Cotton Services and Warehouse Division, Staplcotn, will discuss his company’s role in the cotton industry, current supply and demand numbers plus challenges facing the U.S. cotton industry, including an update on cotton-related provisions in the Farm Bill. In addition, Stephens will also discuss supply-chain disruptions, improvements as they relate to exporting cotton along with sustainability initiatives including traceability which is becoming more important in all commodities but none more so than cotton. Other sessions will include: a livestock update, ag regulatory update, crop insurance, peanuts and a Farm Bill 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. A huge thank you to our conference sponsors! Platinum Sponsor: CSRA Business Lending; Silver Sponsor: Point to Point Environmental, Inc.


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Employment Compliance, ACH Rules, Avoiding Check Fraud Liability 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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Registration Opening Soon!



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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:


Atlanta - Ameris Bank

The bank has donated $2,055,000 to 15 rural hospitals across the state through the Georgia HEART Hospital Program in 2023. Since 2018, the bank has contributed more than $10 million to the program. Read more here.


Atlanta - SouthState Bank

Bank team members in Atlanta volunteered with HomeAid Atlanta to update housing for women recovering from addiction.


Dublin - Morris Bank

The Growing Young Men (G.Y.M.) Program at East Laurens High School received a $1,000 donation from Morris Bank to help grow their mission of building personal character among their student leaders.


Eastman - Great Oaks Bank

Bank team members recently read to area elementary school students with United Way of the Coastal Empire.


Milledgeville - Magnolia State Bank

For Literacy Week at Midway Hills Academy in Milledgeville, branch manager April Thompson read "Just Saving My Money" by Mercer Mayer to Mrs. Babb-Richardson’s and Mrs. Gresham-Spires’ fourth grade classes.


Thomaston - United Bank

Bank team members sponsored championship rings for the Upson-Lee Middle School boys’ basketball team after the Upson-Lee Middle School Knights won the Middle Georgia Middle School Athletic League Championship for the third consecutive year.


Thomasville - Thomasville National Bank

The bank hosted a group of Junior Kindergarteners recently as a stop on their field trip to visit “community helpers.” Tellers showed the children how the bank works with an inside look at the deposit vault and behind the teller counter.


Waycross - Waycross Bank & Trust

The bank recently gave Okefenokee Fellowship of Christian Athletes a surprise donation of $2,000.



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GBA Newsmakers


Alma - Pineland Bank

Lori Stokes was recently promoted to vice president.


Atlanta - PNC Bank

The bank recently debuted its Mobile Branch program in Atlanta, providing banking services in low- to moderate-income communities and promoting financial education to residents in underserved areas. Read more here.


Donalsonville - First Port City Bank

Emmalee Bell has joined the bank as marketing specialist and graphic designer in the bank's Donalsonville branch.


LaGrange - Colony Bank

Our sympathies to the family, former colleagues and friends of Mike Speight, who along with his wife, Leanne, died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident last weekend. Mike retired as the bank’s market president in 2021. His brother, Dan Speight, recently retired from Planters First Bank. Read more here.


Lake Oconee - Exchange Bank

Carol Holt joined the bank team on Feb. 22 as branch manager and loan officer at its Lake Oconee office. Read more here.


Richmond Hill - Great Oaks Bank

The bank received the 2022 Large Business of the Year Award at the Richmond Hill Bryan County Chamber’s annual awards reception on Feb. 23. Pictured below accepting the award on behalf of the bank are (from left) Director of Marketing Emily Doherty, Richmond Hill Office Manager Krystal Tarr and Market Manager John Hodges. Read more here.


Rome - River City Bank

Ella Givens has joined the bank as marketing and community relations manager. Read more here.


Waycross - PrimeSouth Bank

Mike Phillips has joined the bank as director of operations, SVP.


Atlanta - Georgia Department of Banking and Finance

Pam Keane, director of supervision, is retiring at the end of March. Keane has served for more than 20 years with the department. Upon Keane's retirement, Kevin Vaughn will become director of supervision. Vaughan joined the Department in 2010 and was promoted through the examiner levels achieving the role of Supervisory Examiner in 2015. Read more here.


Lori Stokes PNC Bank Emmalee Bell Mike and Leeann Speight Carol Holt



Great Oaks Bank Ella Givens Mike Phillips Pam Keane Kevin Vaughn



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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