Feb. 9, 2024  

Scenes from the Sporting Clays Tournament

A capacity crowd of members, customers and other guests came out for the Georgia BankPAC Sporting Clays Tournament Thursday at Old Hudson Plantation. We'll have all the details and a list of winners next week, but check out some scenes from the day below.



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House Passes GBA Priority Housekeeping Bill, Active on Other Banking Bills

The General Assembly completed Day 17 of its 2024 40-day session on Thursday. Watch for the Legislative Update after adjournment on Friday, where we’ll report on several bills of interest to the industry that received action this week. Among those are GBA’s priority bill, which updates the state banking code that passed the House unanimously on Tuesday. Our thanks to Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) for introducing the bill. Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) is the senate sponsor. Also, the House Banks & Banking Committee chaired by Rep. Noel Williams (R-Cordele) met Thursday afternoon and heard four bills related to motor vehicle title loans, trigger leads, crypto mining and the prohibition of financial institutions’ use of merchant firearms codes. More information to come in Friday’s GBA Legislative Update. See the complete list of legislation we are tracking on the State Issues page of the GBA website.


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Kristy Harrell

GBA Member Profile

Doing the Right Thing to Help Customers with Kristy Harrell

With an impressive 30-year career in banking, First National Bank, Bainbridge, Chief Operations Officer and Senior Vice President Kristy Harrell began her journey in banking as a part-time teller straight out of high school. Her dedication and passion for the industry led her to pursue a finance degree after being cross-trained in various areas of a small community bank. A pivotal piece of advice from her mentor resonates with her to this day, “Always remember to do the right thing for the person in front of me, even when those choices/answers/decisions are not easy – for me to say or for the customer to hear.” This ethos was exemplified in an instance where Harrell went above and beyond to help a frantic customer, ensuring he and his wife could embark on a mission trip by opening the bank’s safe deposit box vault at 6:15 a.m. on the morning of their flight so they could get their passports. “It was a good feeling to help someone who felt helpless,” she said. Outside of banking, the member of GBA's Operations and Technology Committee cherishes family time, enjoying outdoor activities and cooking together. Her love for food extends to her favorite TV show, Top Chef. Read more about Kristy in her GBA Member Profile.


Related: Deadlines Coming up!

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

Hotel rooms are still available at the DeSoto in Savannah, where the GBA Operations & Technology Conference will take place Feb. 28 - March 1. Early bird registration pricing for the conference ends Feb. 13. Click here to take a look at the full agenda. This conference is 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. Click here to access the event website with everything you need to know.


Thank you to our generous Associate Members who are supporting this conference through sponsorship.

  • Platinum Sponsor: Liberty Technology

  • Gold Sponsor: Wolf & Company, P.C.

  • Silver Sponsors: Creatio, Ncontracts, and SQN Banking Systems.

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New Check Fraud Detection Platform from GBA Partner Abrigo

Solution Helps Banks Fight Fraud Faster and Smarter With AI

GBA partner Abrigo and Mitek, a global leader in mobile deposit and fraud prevention, this week launched Abrigo Fraud Detection. Abrigo Fraud Detection leverages Mitek’s Check Fraud Defender, a nationwide consortium of check fraud data, powerful AI and ML image analysis, and Abrigo’s configurable fraud decision engine — including step-up authentication capabilities to pinpoint a higher rate of altered items, forgeries, and fraudulent checks. This innovative approach protects banks from financial losses by increasing fraud detection accuracy, uncovering threats missed by traditional tools and manual reviews, and automating fraud department workflows. In a pilot program last year with a bank in the southeast, Abrigo Fraud Detection correctly identified 93% of the bank’s total fraudulent check value, equating to more than $330,000 in potential fraud loss avoidance. Abrigo Fraud Detection's capabilities will expand throughout 2024 to detect fraud across additional transaction types, including wire and FedNow. For more information and to try out Abrigo Fraud Detection, visit our website. Contact Laura Wahl at laura.wahl@abrigo.com with questions.


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Member Banks Recognized Among the Best Regional Banks by Newsweek

Newsweek recently released its ranking of America's Best Regional Banks in partnership with market data research firm Plant-A Insights Group. We were pleased to see seven GBA member banks make the list with a ranking of four stars or higher, based on aspects such as profitability, financial relevance, risk exposures to financial uncertainties and overall health and stability of the financial institution. Congratulations to the following:


Georgia-based members:

  • Ameris Bank

  • Colony Bank

  • First Chatham Bank

  • Peach State Bank & Trust.

Members with significant Georgia presence:

  • Fifth Third Bank

  • First Carolina Bank

  • Renasant Bank.

See the full list from Newsweek here.

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Federal Regulatory Burden Review Underway

Federal Regulators this week kicked off the latest comment period for ideas about reducing regulatory burden as is required of them every 10 years under the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996. The comment period is now open for the first three of 12 categories for which the agencies will seek input during the next two years. The categories are Applications and Reporting, Powers and Activities, and International Operations. Get all the details here.


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U.S. Economy Outpaces G7 Competitors

Here’s a bit of a flip in perspective for you about the economy if you need a pick-me-up from hearing various reports about consumer and business sentiment with a dour point of view. The U.S. economy is significantly stronger than that of other major countries around the world by a wide margin, according to analysis by Axios. Even better, the outlook for the rest of the year is really good. IMF economists predict the U.S. will have 2.1% GDP growth this year, well ahead of a projected 1.4% by Canada, the article said. Read more here.



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Full House at this year’s IRA Merry-Go-Round Seminar

GBA hosted a full house of IRA specialists for the annual IRA Merry-go-Round this week in Macon. Facilitated by Loni Porta, director of education, Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, this two-day seminar covered everything needed for banks to run a compliant IRA program. Day 1 covered the basics of IRAs, and day 2 focused on advanced IRA issues.



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Attention Attorneys!

Status of Important Cases - February 2024

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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Volunteer with GBA and Make a Difference

Did you know that more than 300 members serve on one of our 24 committees or boards and shape the industry policy priorities, educational programs and other resources provided by GBA?  If you or a banker you know would be a good fit to carry on that tradition, now’s the time for committee volunteer nominations.

  • Why volunteer? Gain valuable experience, network with peers, and give back to the community. Volunteer opportunities offer much more than they ask.


  • When? We're seeking volunteers for the 2024-25 program year starting in July.



Questions? Contact David Oliver or request a connection with a current committee/board member. Don't miss this chance to contribute, learn, and connect!


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Member Banks and Associate Members Save up to 35%

GBA Endorses Shred-it for Document, Hard Drive & Media Destruction and Community Shred Days

GBA is pleased to announce its endorsement of Shred-it for its information destruction services. As a leader in information security, Shred-it offers an integrated suite of services designed to protect bank’s sensitive information. With Shred-it secure document destruction, all documents are destroyed and recycled, safely and securely, either onsite or offsite. Shred-it media destruction services destroy a wide range of digital and electronic media such as hard-drives, magnetic backup tapes, DVDs and USBs. Exclusive Benefits for GBA members and Associate Members include:

  • 30% discount on document destruction

  • 30% discount on hard-drive and media destruction

  • 35% discount for Community Shred Days

  • Dedicated customer care contact, national accounts billing specialist and local operational support

  • On-site mobile shredding services available throughout the contiguous U.S.

  • Secure, locked containers in your branch and offices with free keys for ease of retrieval

  • State-of-the-art guaranteed chain of custody at every touchpoint

  • Customer portal to request service information and reports

  • Certificate of destruction with each service – your proof of compliance

See the complete list of benefits. To setup or inquire about Shred-it service, please fill out the contact form.


IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are already a Shred-it customer and would like to access the GBA’s discounts you may request to join this program after your current contract has passed 50% of its term. Simply contact sitretgpochange@stericycle.com with your account information and request to join the GBA program. Contact GBA’s Bo Brannen with questions at bbrannen@gabankers.com.


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Shannon Fortson

Peter Faser

Upcoming Programming for Loan Personnel at MGSU, Macon

Don’t miss out on these upcoming seminars! Connect with your peers and gain the tools and expertise needed to excel in your role.

  • Personal Cash Flow Analysis Seminar March 5: Shannon Fortson of Pinnacle Bank will present. Secure your spot and register today. Who should attend? This program is specifically designed for consumer lenders, commercial lenders, and credit analysts/underwriters.


  • Loan Documentation Seminar March 6: Fortson will be back to present this fan favorite. Register here. Who should attend? Commercial loan officers, commercial loan personnel, loan assistants and closing specialists.


  • Business Cash Flow Seminar, March 7: Get the hands-on analysis training you need to determine a borrower’s capacity to repay a loan. Peter Faser, a faculty member of the Georgia Banking School and momentum executive at Truist Securities will lead the seminar.  Don’t miss out, register today! Who should attend? This program is designed for small business lenders, commercial lenders, and credit analysts/underwriters. 


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Compliance Peer Group Meeting, MGSU, Macon, March 5, 2024

GBA’s compliance peer group will meet at Middle Georgia State University in Macon on March 5, 10 am – 2 pm, to discuss the latest industry hot topics. Network with your peers and walk away with best practices that you can implement to strengthen your bank’s compliance management program. Get all the details and register here.


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Don't Miss out!

Breaking into Banking 101 – Fundamentals of Commercial Banking, 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. Presented by Andy Keusal, Keusal Learning, the online course will be held on 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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Do You Need to Manage Fourth-Party Risk?

By Michael Berman, CEO, GBA Partner Ncontracts


You're a pro at managing third-party risk, but how do you deal with fourth-party risk? Your vendors are likely farming out critical activities to other vendors. It's all a part of ordinary business operations. Just as you want to maximize efficiencies, so do your vendors. However, your vendors' contracts with fourth parties introduce additional operational, financial, cybersecurity, and compliance risks for your financial institution. Banks often wonder how closely they need to monitor fourth-party risk. What are the regulatory expectations? How far down the ladder does it go? Read more of Berman's expert insight about the following questions and concepts.

  • What do regulators expect from fourth-party risk management?

  • What is the role of contract management in managing fourth-party risk?

  • What are the benefits of SOC 2 reports, SSAE 18 audits and fourth-party risk?

With questions, contact Berman at michael.berman@ncontracts.com, or visit www.ncontracts.com.

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Peer Networking at Its Best! Round Table Discussions and Show & Share

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

Planned by GBA’s Marketing CommitteeHaley Barnes, BankSouth Mortgage, chair, the Marketing Conference program is packed with chances to learn from your peers!  The conference will feature:

  • A workshop covering a do-it-yourself video production tutorial with an easy-to-use app and a hands-on video project to apply learned techniques.

  • Roundtable discussions on common problems, solutions, resources, and management expectations.

  • AI demonstrations by members showcasing applications for idea generation, strategy and resource identification.

See the full agenda and register here. Thank you to our Silver Sponsor, CashTrans.


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Eric Rooks

Fan Favorite, Sergeant Eric Rooks to Close the Institute

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

Join us for GBA’s annual HR Professionals Institute where fan favorite, Sergeant Eric Rooks with the Gwinnett Police Department will close the Institute with a session on mental-health awareness. This session will equip you with the tools needed to effectively de-escalate people.


Planned by GBA’s Human Resources CommitteeLance Whitley, Colony Bank, chair, the institute is the premier in-person learning experience for Georgia bank human resources professionals. Get all the details and register here. Thank you to our sponsors! Platinum: Engaged Banker Experience. Silver: Yarmouth & Choate.


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Bank Security Conference, April 10-12, The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St. Simons

Planned by GBA’s Security Committee, Melissa Dasher, SouthState Bank, chair, the conference agenda is shaping up to deliver the latest insights, trends, and tools needed for bank security professionals to excel in their careers. Registration includes a policies and procedures workshop, sessions on bank security technology and equipment, artificial intelligence, fraud, mental health and more. Secure your spot today!


Get all the details and register here.


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Excitement is Growing!

Georgia Banking School – 2024

There is still time to register for the 2024 session of Georgia Banking School. Save $130 on tuition through Feb. 28!




Georgia Banking School Details and Enrollment Access Here


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Additional Enrollment Opportunity!

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

GBA’s Compliance School Board has been hard at work bringing an additional opportunity for bankers looking to grow in their career. Whether you are new to banking or need to brush up on recent regulatory changes, this school will equip you for what’s next. 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 an added value to your institution. Get the details and register here.


GBA’s Compliance School will be April 28 - May 3 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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Registration Now Open!

GBA 2024 Rural Development and Lending Conference

Registration is now open for the GBA 2024 Rural Development and Lending Conference May 16-17 at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St Simons Island. Planned by GBA’s Agriculture Committee, Matt Rushton, AB&T, chair, and Jake Cleghorn, Atlamaha Bank & Trust Company, vice chair, the conference agenda will help bankers sharpen their skills, share the latest intel and make essential connections helpful in serving their communities. Content includes:

  • Deferred Tax Liability

  • Crop Insurance Update

  • Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Industry Update

  • Economic Update

  • and more!

Secure your spot today! Get all the details and register here.


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Compliance Alliance Question of The Week


Question: Does the Military Lending Act (MLA) apply to the purchase of vacant land? 


Answer: Generally, MLA would apply as vacant land loans are not specifically exempt. Note, however, that transactions to finance the initial construction of a dwelling that will secure the loan would be exempt as a residential mortgage, so in some cases, this exemption may apply:


"…Exceptions. Notwithstanding paragraph (f)(1) of this section, consumer credit does not mean:  

A residential mortgage, which is any credit transaction secured by an interest in a dwelling, including a transaction to finance the purchase or initial construction of the dwelling, any refinance transaction, home equity loan or line of credit, or reverse mortgage…" See more from the regulation.


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.


Tuesdays at 11 a.m.

Thursdays at 2 p.m.


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Webinars – Great for Fundamentals Training

Lending Compliance Update, The Fair Credit Reporting Act, Compliance for the Universal Banker 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.



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


Bainbridge - First National Bank

The bank sponsored the popcorn machine and supplies at the Firehouse Art Center for the Bainbridge Jazz and Blues Festival.


Bainbridge - First Port City Bank

The bank recently donated to the local United Way.


Cornelia - Traditions Bank

The bank recently made a donation to Circle of Hope from its Friday blue jeans funds raised by employees.


Dublin - Bank of Dudley

Branch Manager Chris Adams and Commercial Loan Officer Matthew Weigel recently taught a class on financial literacy to the Growing Young Men program at East Laurens High School.


Gainesville - Peach State Bank & Trust

The bank recently donated to The Knox Martin Foundation to help find the next breakthrough in cancer research.


Savannah - Great Oaks Bank

Bank team members recently volunteered for United Way of the Coastal Empire’s Read United Campaign. Throughout the program, volunteers visited 60 schools to read to nearly 1,000 classrooms and distribute nearly 20,000 books to students.



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GBA Newsmakers


Alpharetta - Synovus Bank

Laura Townson has been promoted to retail market manager at the bank's Crabapple branch in Alpharetta.


Athens - Synovus Bank

Alan Posey, Bucky Woodruff and Jenna Davis have joined the bank’s Northeast Georgia financial advisory team.


Atlanta - Georgia Banking Company

David Black has been promoted to Chief Commercial Officer, a new position overseeing the bank’s asset-generating lines of business. Wes Reagan will assume the role of Chief Risk Officer. Read more here.


Atlanta - SouthState Bank

BJ Green has joined the bank as state president for its Atlanta Banking Group. Read more here.


Atlanta and Memphis - Paragon Bank

Congratulations to Robert Shaw, CEO; Charles Yorke, Georgia Market President; Dirk Ledford, Atlanta Market President; Trae Dorough, President, Small Business Capital Group; and their colleagues on the grand opening of their Georgia headquarters office located at 293 Pharr Road in Atlanta.


Baxley - former Vidalia Saving & Loan, Peoples State Bank

Our sympathies to the family, friends and former colleagues of Butch Coleman, who died Monday. He worked with the former Vidalia Saving & Loan and Peoples State Bank, and was an active member of GBA. Read more here.


Chatsworth - First National Community Bank

The bank recently announced it will be updating the look and feel of their online banking platform. Read more here.


Warner Robins - Morris Bank

Clay Corbitt and Kristina Gibbs recently joined the bank in Warner Robins at the HWY 96 and South Houston Lake locations as commercial banker, SVP and commercial banker, respectively. Read more here.


Pelham - Family Bank

Michelle Harrell has been promoted to assistant vice president and human resources manager. Ramsey Rigsby has been promoted to banking officer and consumer lender.


Thomasville - TC Federal Bank

The bank recently received the Bob 'Hutch' Hutchison Legacy Award as part of Imagine Thomasville's Community Impact Awards.


Tifton - South Georgia Banking Company

The legacy of the bank’s founder and past-President, G. Pait Willis, was recently recognized at the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet. Willis, along with Butch Davis, became the latest recipients of the Chamber’s “Wall of Fame” award for their impact on the community and the financial industry of the region. The bank grew under Willis’ direction for nearly 48 years until his passing in 2018. Receiving the award were his wife of 58 years, Rachel; their sons Glenn and Sephus, with their wives Karen and Cathy; granddaughter Amanda Lowe and her husband, Johnny.


Warner Robins - Planters First Bank

Jackie Copeland has joined the bank as a teller in its Warner Robins banking center.


Jackson, MS - Balch & Bingham, LLP

Bank Counsel Member Phil Buffington has joined Balch & Bingham, LLP as a partner.


Atlanta - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Allen Stanley and Yareny Valdes have been promoted to vice president in the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Supervision and Regulation (S&R) Division. Read more here.


Atlanta - Georgia Bankers Association

Angella Black has joined the GBA team as Collateral Pools Program analyst.



Laura Townson Alan Posey Bucky Woodruff Jenna Davis David Black Wes Reagan


BJ Green Paragon Bank Clay Corbitt Kristina Gibbs Michelle Harrell Ramsey Rigby


TC Federal Bank South Georgia Banking Co. Jackie Copeland Phil Buffington Angella Black



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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