Jan. 12, 2024  

General Assembly Convenes

The Georgia General Assembly began its 40-day 2024 session Monday, Jan. 8. We’ll publish our Legislative Update each week the Legislature is in session, so be looking for that in your inbox as we will include more details about all the goings on this week and major issues we expect to see debated. And set a web browser bookmark for our State Issues page on the GBA website to track details about specific bills during the session. Check in frequently as we add bills as they are introduced and update status as they move through the process. As this is the second session of a two-year legislative cycle, we have bills that carried over from the 2023 session that we continue to track. Legislators will be in recess next week to recognize the Martin Luther King Jr. Day and hold budget hearings. With questions, contact Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027, or Bo Brannen, 404.420.2014.


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Trigger Lead Restriction Legislation Introduced in U.S. Senate

U. S. Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) have introduced the Homebuyers’ Privacy Protection Act (S.B. 3502), seeking to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act and limit the sale of trigger leads by credit reporting agencies. These leads contain contact details of individuals seeking mortgage loans, gathered when their credit reports are pulled. The proposed legislation prohibits consumer reporting agencies from providing trigger leads to third parties unless the third party certifies consumer authorization for solicitations or has a direct relationship with the consumer's mortgage. Such leads often create friction between banks and customers because customers don’t realize the bank is not the source of their information being shared. A similar bill was introduced in the House in June. With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027, or Bo Brannen, 404.420.2014.


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Key National Regulatory Issues We’re Tracking

We’ve had plenty of dialogue with members in the past few months during conferences, committee meetings and other regular outreach. Here’s a list of key national regulatory issues we’ve heard are top of mind that we’re engaged on:

  • Overdraft restrictions and personal financial data sharing rules expected from CFPB; the agency has already proposed dramatically reducing safe harbor credit card late fees.


  • CFPB's Section 1071 small business data collection rule implementation is halted pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of CFPB’s funding structure.


  • FDIC’s far-reaching corporate governance rule that will change the relationship between bankers and their boards is open for comment.


  • The Fed’s controversial Basel III endgame could be one of the first implemented despite loud industry opposition. We joined other state associations this week in a letter detailing the significant concerns we and others have with it. Read the letter here.


  • FinCEN’s third beneficial ownership rule is expected sometime soon; Congress is considering whether to overturn the entire process, and we expect a proposal to incorporate counterterrorism rules in AML programs.


  • The interagency rule updating CRA that becomes effective in April, with compliance dates starting Jan. 1, 2026.


  • Congress may weigh in on cannabis banking, stablecoins, and deposit insurance reform.

With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027, or Bo Brannen, 404.420.2014.


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Ag Committee Meeting Overview

All signs point to a challenging year for Georgia’s farmers and ag-related businesses based on the reports we heard from members this week during the Agriculture Committee meeting in Macon. Conditions and results from the 2023 harvest vary from region to region around the state, but overall high input costs, lower commodity prices and poor weather conditions during critical parts of the growing season for some crops put stress on farm profits. The committee, led by Chair Matt Rushton, AB&T, and Vice Chair Jake Cleghorn, Altamaha Bank & Trust Company, also discussed rural economic development initiatives, farm labor challenges and efforts to help prevent fraud through customer education events. The committee also began planning for the Rural Lending and Development Conference coming up in May (details below) and the annual tour to farm-related businesses in the fall. Thanks to Adam Smith, Truist, for inviting guest speaker John McElveen, director of the Georgia Agricultural Wellness Alliance, to share what the organization is doing to improve mental and overall wellness for Georgia’s agriculture industry.


Related: Mark your calendar!

GBA 2024 Rural Development and Lending Conference

Go ahead and mark your calendar for the annual GBA 2024 Rural Development and Lending Conference scheduled May 16-17 at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St Simons Island. Look out for program and registration details in upcoming GBA E-Bulletins and email outreach. With questions, contact Alison Moreau, 404.420.2034.


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Women in Banking Committee Meets This Week

The GBA Women in Banking Committee met this week at United Bank in Covington to continue planning the annual Women in Banking Conference, Aug. 15-16 at Chateau Elan Winery & Resort in Braselton, and to discuss challenges they are facing at their banks and companies today. The committee is led by Chair Jenn Whitmire, Pinnacle Bank, and Vice Chair Jessi Englert, The Independent Bankers Bank. The committee is excited to announce that Jessica Kearney, assistant vice president at Travelers Institute/Travelers, will kick off the 2024 conference with an economic update. Stay tuned for additional program updates. Registration and the hotel room block will open in the spring, so watch your email and future bulletin issues for an announcement. A big thank-you to these associate members who have confirmed their support of this event through sponsorship! Gold Sponsor: McNair, McLemore, Middlebrooks & Co., LLC. Silver Sponsors: CRS Data; FHLBank Atlanta; Mauldin & Jenkins; Troutman Pepper; and Wipfli. To learn more or to reserve your sponsorship, click here to access the 2024 Sponsorship and Exhibit Kit. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions about the conference or sponsorship.  


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GBA Retirement Services’ Spotlight on Bank of Monticello: 100% Retirement Readiness

GBA Retirement Services, Inc. met with employees at Bank of Monticello, Walker Jordan, president and CEO, earlier this week. The big news is that 100% of the bank's employees are on track to replace at least 70% of income in retirement from sources including: 401(k) employee and employer contributions, social security, and outside assets (if applicable) as reported by our plan partner American Trust Company. The industry average is only 25% to 30% of employees are on track to replace 70% of their income. And, the average for the GBA Master Trust as a whole (when looking at all 64 plans in the Trust) is an impressive 65% of employees on track for a successful retirement. The bank's success and overall success rate for other  members is due in large part to the plan design features added in the plan about six years ago. Participants are automatically enrolled at 6% and automatically increased at 1% each year (unless they opt out). For all members participating, more than 50% of employees elected to continue with the annual increase rather than opting out. This helps everyone be more prepared for retirement.


Participant success is our focus and we love hearing success stories like we see at Bank of Monticello. If your current plan is not tracking participant success or not meeting with your employees to help with retirement goals, please reach out and let us help you with a plan comparison. Contact Mandy Richards at 404.420.2025 for more information about how GBA Retirement Services can help design or improve your retirement plan.


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Legislative Forum & Reception

Room Block Cut-Off Extended through Friday; Discounted Program Rate Expires Jan. 13

We hope you’re planning to attend the annual Legislative & Economic Forum and Reception, coming up in just two weeks on Jan. 24 at The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta. We’ve added a few hotel rooms to our block and the group rate of $329 has been extended through Friday. To reserve a room, call Marriott reservations directly at 1-800-570-1382 and reference Georgia Bankers Association Legislative Forum & Reception Jan2024 or click here to access our room block through the Reslink. Haven’t registered yet? Hurry, registration fees go up $50 beginning Jan. 13. Click here for details and to register. The forum will be from 3-6 p.m., followed by the reception from 6-7:30 p.m. A big thank-you to our event sponsors: BDS Yarmouth & Choate; BHG Financial; EBS Strategies; FHLBank Atlanta; Olsen Palmer, LLC; Point to Point Environmental; and ServisFirst Bank, Correspondent Division. Contact GBA’s Kathy Friestad with questions.


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Tracy NeSmith

GBA Member Profile

Clowning Around with Tracy NeSmith

Tracy NeSmith, AAP, vice president, treasury support officer at Planters First Bank in Hawkinsville, began her banking journey in April 1991 when a call from a friend at Planters First Bank led her to a career she has never looked back from. “Every opportunity I have to help a customer manage their business banking which allows them to be more efficient and do all of this securely is a success story for me. I truly love what I do for the bank and our customers,” NeSmith said. In the latest GBA Member Profile, NeSmith shows her whimsical side, sharing about her experiences dressing up as bank mascot Goldie the Clown, to engage with the community. The member of GBA’s Operations & Technology Committee also emphasizes the importance of character in her banking career, highlighting the valuable lesson that not everyone will like you, but believing in oneself is paramount. Read more here.


Related: 2024 Ops/Tech Conference - Coming up Feb. 28 - March 1

Detailed Conference Agenda Available

The agenda for the upcoming conference is available. Click here to take a look. 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. There’s still room for a few more exhibitors! 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 and Gold Sponsor: Wolf & Company, P.C.


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Leader Updates

Regulatory Focal Points, Retire in Georgia, Low Misery

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

  • National regulatory priorities: We shared a list of key national regulatory issues identified by members during committee meetings and conversations. See standalone article earlier in this issue.


  • Georgia as a retirement destination: Bankrate.com puts Georgia at No. 15 overall among best states for retirement. Affordability and weather were among the highest rated categories for the peach state.


  • Misery Index (not so bad): We shared a look at the most recent rating on an index some economists use to measure the concept of economic discomfort. The current 6.5% level is well below the 8.5% average so far since the year 2000. The so-called Misery Index has been around since 1970. Lower averages generally indicate a healthy economy.

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


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Kristen Stogniew

Still time to register – earn your CAFP, CRCM, and CERP credits!

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

This year’s summit has been approved for 24.75 CAFP, 24.75 CRCM, and 11 CERP credits. Organized and facilitated by Kristen Stogniew, Esq., CFE, Saltmarsh, Cleaveland and Gund, attendees can expect a deep dive into the world of BSA compliance through a variety of sessions led by industry experts. See the full agenda here.


Join us in beautiful Peachtree City at the Hilton Conference Center, Jan. 29 - Feb. 1. Get all the details and register here.


Thank you to our silver sponsor, Mauldin & Jenkins CPAs and Advisors.


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2024 Banking Benefits and HR Policies Survey Now Open

In partnership with GBA partner Pearl Meyer, we are pleased to announce that the 2024 Banking Benefits and HR Policies Survey questionnaire is available now. If you have not received your participation email, please contact Rhonda Snyder at rhonda.snyder@pearlmeyer.com.


Key Dates and Pricing:

  • Survey Effective Date:  Jan. 1

  • Submission Due Date:  March 8

  • Survey Results Published:  May 13

  • The price for the results of the survey is $695 for participants.

This survey covers the following topics:

  • PTO programs, vacation, sick days, holidays, etc.

  • Health (medical, dental, vision) and wellness plans

  • Flexible spending accounts

  • Short and long-term disability benefits

  • Life insurance

  • Retirement plans (401(k), ESOP, defined benefit plans, etc.)

  • Work life benefits

  • Retiree benefits

  • Payroll and organization costs

  • Work from home practices.

As in prior years, the survey will include a designated section to collect and report information on “Bank Executive” Benefits and Perquisites. Please note: Only participants who complete the Bank Executive Benefits & Perquisites Section will have access to this portion of the survey report. To make your survey submission process easier, those who participated in the last Banking Benefits and Human Resources Policies Survey will be provided access to a printable version of their previous survey responses.


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Patrice Konarik

A Word from Patrice

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

Facilitated by Loni Porta, director of education, Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions, anyone even remotely involved in IRAs will benefit from this intensive in-person training. Porta comes highly recommended as an in-person instructor by Patrice Konarik, who is no longer doing in-person IRA training. Here is what Patrice has to say about Loni Porta.

Hello, my fellow IRA banker friends in Georgia. My name is Patrice Konarik of Sunwest Training Corp. You may remember me from my 28 years of providing live IRA training seminars in Georgia through the Georgia Bankers Association. As many of you may know, I sold the live training part of my business to my friends and associates at Convergent RPS last year. I had several companies who were interested in purchasing my company, but I wanted to hand it off to an organization who would maintain the high quality of IRA training I have provided over the years.


I have had a wonderful partnership with Convergent RPS for the last 8 years marketing their IRAstuff.com web portal and consulting services. They were always my support system when I had an IRA question. Loni Porta, who is scheduled to provide the training in Georgia this year is very much an IRA expert. We became fast friends when we met last year because of our similar philosophies on presenting complicated IRA material in a way that can be understood. I am very excited you will get to meet her this year. I’m looking forward to hearing how much you enjoy her training style like bankers in the other states have mentioned to me. Have a great class and Happy New Year.

Get details and register here.


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Convenient Training for New Lenders

Commercial Lending Training – Webinars


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

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


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

This 9-module online course is a “sequel” to the 101 course and is best taken after completion of that course, though it is not a prerequisite. The 201 course includes a case study and dives deeper into topics covered in modules 4, 6, and 8 of the 101 course: analyzing a borrower’s balance sheet, income statement, collateral, and risk ratings. Click here to register.


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



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Shannon Fortson

Peter Faser

Registration now open!

Spring Programming at Middle Georgia State University in Macon

Registration for our spring programming is now open. Connect with your peers and gain the tools and expertise needed to excel in your role.

  • GBA’s Compliance Peer Group will meet on March 5. Attendees will discuss the industry’s latest hot topics and learn best practices to strengthen their bank’s compliance management program. Get all the details and register here.


  • Personal Cash Flow Analysis Seminar, March 5: Shannon Fortson of Pinnacle Bank will present a combination of lecture and casework, and participants will learn how to calculate sources and uses of personal cash flow. Secure your spot and register today.


  • Loan Documentation Seminar March 6: Fortson will be back to present the fan-favorite Loan Documentation seminar. Learn what’s needed to prevent loan losses through the implementation of proper loan structuring and documentation techniques. Register here.


  • Business Cash Flow Seminar, March 7: Get hands-on analysis training you need to determine a borrower’s capacity to repay a loan from Peter Faser, a faculty member of the Georgia Banking School. Don’t miss out! Register today.

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

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


1. The Power of Video Workshop

  • Unleash the potential of social media with Ken Fehner, owner of The Social Gloo.

  • Craft compelling videos, master storytelling, and elevate your bank's online presence.

  • Practical hands-on guidance to create videos aligning with your bank's unique identity.

2. Traditional Conference. Highlights include:

  • Mastering Analytics for Smarter Digital Marketing with Hunter Young of the HIFI Agency

  • Leveraging LinkedIn for Marketing Success with Amber Farley of Financial Marketing Solutions

  • AI Demonstrations

  • Extended Peer Sharing Opportunities

Attendees have the option to register for both workshop and conference, conference only or workshop only. Get all the details and register here.


Ken Fehner Hunter Young Amber Farley


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Five Self-care Tips from GBAIT Wellness Partner

Self-care can mean taking just five minutes for yourself. Here’s a list of simple things you can do to “take five” in 2024 from GBA Insurance Trust wellness partner SentryHealth. The SentryHealth team can help you make a healthy living plan and support you in meeting (and even exceeding) your new year goals! All services are available at no charge to member bankers covered by the GBA Insurance Trust. Contact Lee Monroe and Jayn Lawson for information. If you are an employee of a participating member company and are ready to do something good for your health today, schedule an appointment at mysentryhealth.com or on the MySentryHealth app, available on the App Store or Google Play.


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Lon Langston

Thriving Through Change with Lon Langston!

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

It’s only human to want to predict and control the future, but it’s often not possible. We plan and prepare but still events unfold in ways that disrupt our progress. Our direction is detoured by unforeseen events, such as a recession, a pandemic, a super-tight labor market or a dramatic escalation in interest rates. When the future we thought we would have is disrupted, it’s natural to have a negative reaction, but there’s a better way. In his Thriving Through Change session, Lon Langston of Engaged Banker Experience will equip you with information and insights you can use immediately to turn obstacles into opportunities, for yourself and everyone in your organization. Join us for this session and more at GBA’s HR Professional’s Institute, March 20-22. Get all the details and register here.


Thank you to our sponsors! Platinum: Engaged Banker Experience. Silver: Yarmouth & Choate.


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First Year Slots are Filling Up

Georgia Banking School – 2024

There is still time to register for the 2024 session of Georgia Banking School. Save $130 on tuition through March 1!




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 both 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, 2024, at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel in Athens.  With questions, contact Aimee Corcoran, 404.420.2035.


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

Planned by GBA’s Security Committee, Melissa Dasher, SouthState, 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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Compliance Alliance Question of The Week


Question: We have a customer who died in January and they are set to receive social security benefits in February. Do we need to send this back?


Answer: The benefits will need to be returned. You must return the benefits received for the month of death and any later months, so with the month of death being January, any benefits received in February and any in the future need to be returned. It is important to note that the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays benefits in the month following when they are due. See reference here on p. 1. So, the January benefit is paid in February. Additionally, it is SSA policy that they do not pay benefits for the month of death, meaning that the SSA would require the benefit received in February (payment for January, the month of death) to be returned. See reference here on p. 11.


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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Webinars – Great for Fundamentals Training

Elder Financial Exploitation, Nailing Your Job of Head Teller, Regulation CC for Tellers 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:


Dublin - Bank of Dudley

The bank’s senior leadership team served barbecue to more than 100 law enforcement officers for Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

Fitzgerald - Colony Bank

The bank recently contributed $400,000 to 10 rural hospitals across Georgia through the Georgia HEART Hospital Program, which aims to support rural hospitals by increasing their funding and ability to provide healthcare to patients in Georgia. Read more here.


Perry - SunMark Community Bank

The bank recently presented its December Casual Cause donation to Hayden’s Loaves of Love, a ministry that bakes loaves of bread for the homeless and those in need.


Rome and Blairsville - River City Bank

For National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, the bank’s Rome and Blairsville teams delivered Chick-fil-A biscuits and pizzas to local law enforcement offices.



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GBA Newsmakers


Athens - Synovus Bank

Jeff Collins has joined the bank’s Atlanta Highway branch as its new retail market manager.


Atlanta - Ameris Bank

Juan Mendoza has joined the bank as a business banker. Connie McLendon has joined the bank as vice president, deposit operations.


Atlanta - Truist

Our sympathies to the family, friends and former colleagues of former SunTrust Banks of Georgia Chairman, President and CEO Bob Long, who died recently. More here.


Atlanta - United Community Bank

Martina Martin has joined the bank as vice president, commercial relationship manager.


Bainbridge - First National Bank

Joshua Rathel has joined the bank as a credit analyst.


Canton - Synovus Bank

Alana Jacobs Ware has been promoted to retail market manager at the bank’s Canton branch.


Cordele - Planters First Bank

The bank recently received the 2023 Best of Georgia Award from the Georgia Business Journal. Read more here.


Irwinton - Apex Banking Company of Georgia

Jennifer Behlog has been promoted to branch manager and consumer lending officer.


Milledgeville - Exchange Bank

The bank’s board of directors elected Kyle Cullars as an advisory member to the bank’s board. He is the owner/operator of Surcheros Fresh Mex of Milledgeville and Warner Robins and a realtor with the Kimi Clements Team of Keller Williams Georgia Communities. Read more here.


Richmond Hill - Great Oaks Bank

Denise Dean has joined the bank as a loan officer assistant.


Atlanta - Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE)

Shanon Stewart has been named Chief Operations Officer of ACE. Read more here.


Cornelia - Financial Supermarkets, Inc. (FSI)

FSI recently celebrated its 40th anniversary as an innovative force shaping the landscape of the banking industry.


Dublin - Symphona LLP

Joshua Wells, CPA, has been made a firm partner.


Arlington, VA - FDIC

Jennifer Fain was recently appointed by President Biden as the fourth Presidentially-appointed Inspector General of the FDIC. Read more here.


Atlanta - Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta

The board of directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta has elected Susan Dewey to fill the public interest independent directorship vacancy on the board, effective Jan. 15, 2024. Read more here.


Atlanta - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

The bank announced the designation of Claire Lewis Arnold as the 2024 chair of its board of directors and Gregory Haile as the 2024 deputy chair. Read more here. The bank also recently announced the retirement of Andre Anderson, first vice president and chief operating officer. Read more here.



Jeff Collins Juan Mendoza Connie McLendon Martina Martin Joshua Rathel Alana Ware



Planters First Bank Jennifer Behlog Kyle Cullars Denise Dean Shanon Stewart Joshua Wells



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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