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Legislative Update

General Assembly Passes GBA Priority Bill; Active Week on Others

It was a fast-paced week in the Legislature with several GBA priority bills receiving attention. The House overwhelmingly passed the bill we supported that allows non-attorneys to answer garnishments. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) ably handled the bill on the floor and it passed 150-20. We also saw committee action on several bills we're following. A House Judiciary Subcommittee used language we supported to amend a bill requiring concurrent notices to borrowers when a loan is in default. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported a bill dealing with homeowners association transfers, but without including language we opposed last session allowing liens for unpaid homeowners association dues to survive a foreclosure. This committee also decided to hold for further study the bill Attorney General Sam Olens asked for to give him subpoena powers to investigate suspected mortgage fraud. We've been working within a coalition of interested parties on the bill that would establish a statewide standard for foreclosure registries, but no action was taken this week on the bill. It was also a busy week for new legislation to be introduced ranging from expanded foreclosure sale notification requirements to prohibitions on certain mortgage default judgments. Be sure and read our complete Legislative Update this week so you'll be in the know about the goings on in the Legislature and what we're doing on your behalf. With questions, contact GBA's Elizabeth Chandler at 404.420.2027.



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Last Call for Early Birds!

Early Registration Discount for GBA Schools Ends Jan. 31

Early registration for first-year students for both the Georgia Banking School and the Southern Operations and Technology School at the University of Georgia ends Jan. 31. The date for this year's session of both schools is April 29-May 4. The $1,525 early registration rate covers all materials, lodging and most meals, an enormous value to the bank and to the students. For more information, please call GBA's Marybeth Jones at 404.420.2032.



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Mortgage News

President Obama Hints at Refi Plan; Wells Announces Atlanta Homebuyer Program

As expected, the economy was a major topic of President Obama’s State of the Union address this week. Of primary note was his intent to introduce legislation to allow a simplified process for homeowners who are current on payments but underwater on home values to refinance at record-low mortgage rates. To pay for the program and backstop losses, the plan would include a “small fee” on financial firms with more than $50 billion in assets (a.k.a, the big-bank tax the administration has floated before but failed to get traction on in Congress). Details and the legislation have not been released yet, but some estimate the plan could allow more than 10 million borrowers to refinance. The President said those refinancing through the plan would save about $3,000 a year. We’ll share more details as they’re available. In other mortgage news, Wells Fargo this week announced a program to invest $8 million for down payment and renovation grants to borrowers buying foreclosed homes throughout the city of Atlanta. It also declared a mortgage-lending goal of $1.3 billion in the city over the next five years.


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Consumer Cop Considering Two-tiered Regulation

Higher compliance costs and differing levels of complexity between large and small banks are legitimate reasons to consider tiered levels of consumer regulation. That seems to be the message coming from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) lately. CFPB Director Richard Cordray testified this week to a Congressional subcommittee that the bureau may consider setting a minimum asset size to exclude community banks from new rules, and he added that the agency also will analyze how its rules would affect banks with fewer than $10 billion in assets. Cordray has also been discussing a tiered-regulatory concept during discussions with bankers and trade groups. “One size certainly does not fit all when it comes to regulation and enforcement. It makes sense to standardize some rules and supervision procedures, but there also needs to be careful thought given to how the laws affect banks of different sizes or specialties. Those differences can significantly affect their ability to serve the needs of their communities and customers, increase costs or unnecessarily limit profitability. For the first time, the Dodd-Frank Act created asset size thresholds for supervision. It’s important to take advantage of that differentiation and find ways to give community banks below those thresholds a simpler regulatory scheme. We’ll be working with Congress and the regulators on that,” said Joe Brannen, GBA President and CEO. With questions or comments, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, or Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.


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Derivatives Bills Get Nod in U.S. House Committee

We’ve been following progress on several derivatives bills that would help clarify and limit the effects of Dodd-Frank Act provisions on a number of Georgia banks, especially those that work with commercial customers on selling interest rate swaps to help them plan. The U.S. House Agriculture committee this week approved six derivatives-related bills. H.R. 2682 would exempt end-users that are not financial entities from margin requirements for uncleared swaps. H.R. 2779 would exempt inter-affiliate swaps from certain Dodd-Frank Act regulatory requirements. H.R. 2586 clarifies that a swap execution facility would not be required to have a minimum number of participants receive or respond to quote requests, or display quotes for a certain period of time. H.R. 3336 would clarify that the exemption from the swap-dealer definition includes banks that provide interest-rate swaps for customers’ loans. H.R. 3527 would establish a specific gross notional amount threshold test to the Dodd-Frank Act de minimis exception from the swap-dealer definition. H.R. 1840 would require the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to assess costs and benefits before proposing or adopting regulations. We’ll keep tracking these and keep you posted as they progress. With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, or Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.

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Fed to Hold Rates Low through 2014, Adds New Charts and Forecasting to Projections

The Federal Reserve Wednesday said it expects to keep the target for the federal funds rate between zero and 0.25 percent through late 2014. In conjunction with its Federal Open Market Committee meeting and proclamation of economic activity this week, the Fed incorporated new charts into its information release indicating committee members' projections for the appropriate target federal funds rate. A majority of the 17 members indicated that the initial increase in the federal funds rate from its current level will be in either 2014
(5 members) or 2015 (4 members). Eleven of the 17 indicated the targeted federal funds rate at year-end 2014 will be 1 percent or lower. Here's a
link to the full set of charts, which also includes GDP and employment forecasts.


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SBA 504 Refinance Program Ends in September

Revisions to the SBA 504 Refinancing Program last year may provide lenders with an opportunity to adjust their owner-occupied commercial real estate portfolios and reduce overall commercial real estate portfolio concentrations. It can also be an additional tool for lenders to offer their small business clients. The program ends Sept. 27, so now's the time to be thinking about whether it can help your bank and your customers. Click here for an article about the program provided by Randy Griffin of GBA Associate Member CSRA Business Lending. The article is part of a national awareness campaign supporting the SBA 504 Refinancing Program. With questions, contact Griffin at 706.210.2000.


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How to Make Georgia More Competitive

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal this week released recommendations from the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative. Improvements to education and workforce development headed the areas that Georgians identified as most important. Overall, the initiative examined six key factors identified by site selectors as the most important influencers in corporate location and expansion decisions: infrastructure; innovation; education and workforce development; friendly business climate; global commerce; and government efficiency. The final report identifies opportunities, strategies and action steps in each of these categories. Here's a link to the report, its findings, recommendations and action steps. Billy Blanchard, President and CEO, Columbus Bank and Trust, served on the Steering Committee for the initiative.


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Two Good Piggybank Promos Coming Soon

If you're looking for a good public service and community outreach program supporting banking, we've got a couple of ideas for you. America Saves Week is Feb. 19-26. The FDIC encourages banks to participate and is hosting a free webinar to share ideas. To register, follow this link. Also, the GBA-supported Teach Children to Save Day is April 24. The ABA Education Foundation, which coordinates the program, has opened registration for this year's big day. The goal is for participating financial institutions to open 100,000 children's savings accounts. The foundation is hosting free training webinars tailored to three audiences: those wishing to learn more about the program's new resource kit (Feb. 1); newcomers (Feb. 9); and Teach Children to Save veterans (Feb. 15). Each webinar will begin at 3 p.m. EST and will provide tips for planning successful events. Register for Teach Children to Save Day. And, don't forget to let us know about your activity by filling out Financial Literacy Program Report Cards provided by Leadership GBA to track of all the good work you do to support your community each year. With questions, contact GBA's Jennifer Stevens, 404.420.2024.


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Hamilton State Bank Acquires The First State Bank, Stockbridge

We regretted to learn last Friday that our member, The First State Bank in Stockbridge, was closed by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. The FDIC subsequently announced that another of our members, Hamilton State Bank, Hoschton, had acquired the institution under a loss-share arrangement with the agency.


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2011 GBA Bank PAC Closeout

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the 2011 GBA BankPAC campaign. Some of the final contributions for GBA's 2011 FedPAC came in from:

  • Officers and Directors of Metro Bank, Douglasville, Ken Barber, President & CEO

  • Bob Evans, City President, Colony Bank, Cordele

  • Stan Pollock with Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, LLC.

Our thanks again to all of the bankers across Georgia who contributed to the 2011 GBA BankPAC campaign enabling GBA to represent your interests during this important election season. For more information, please contact Elizabeth Chandler at 404.420.2027.


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If you Missed GBA's Fair Lending Webinar, CD and Materials Still Available

Fair Lending is getting plenty of focus from examiners right now. If you missed our live Fair Lending Webinar this week, you can still buy the recorded session and materials. The webinar provides a summary of fair lending laws, specific examples of unlawful discrimination and a description of the penalties and enforcement for non-compliance. In addition, all loan personnel are expected to have annual training. Steve Moore with Bank Compliance Services in Avondale Estates led this webinar Jan. 26. The CD and materials are only $109. With questions, please contact GBA's Courtenay Pope at 404.420.2015.


NOTE: The Institute of Certified Bankers (ICB) is dedicated to promoting the highest standards of performance and ethics within the financial services industry. Fair Lending - "HOT" Examination Topic has been approved for 2 CRCM credits. This statement should not be viewed as an endorsement of this program or its sponsor. You are still eligible for CRCM credit hours with the recording version of this webinar.


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Register Now for GBA's HMDA and CRA Workshop Feb. 2

Join the good crowd of your peers already signed up for GBA's one-day HMDA and CRA Workshop. Led by Steve Moore with Bank Compliance Services, Avondale Estates, the workshop is designed for compliance officers, loan officers and other bank personnel responsible for HMDA data collection and reporting. Topics to be covered include all relevant updates, types of loan applications that are HMDA reportable, the regulatory consequences for non-compliance, "community development" loans and much more. Click here to register online. The seminar is Feb. 2 at Idle Hour Country Club in Macon. With questions or to register, please contact GBA's Courtenay Pope at 404.420.2015.


NOTE: The Institute of Certified Bankers (ICB) is dedicated to promoting the highest standards of performance and ethics within the financial services industry. HMDA and CRA Workshop has been approved for 5.5 CRCM credits. This statement should not be viewed as an endorsement of this program or its sponsor.


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Managing the Appraisal and Evaluation Process Seminar Feb. 8

Join a panel of experts who will guide you through appraisal independence requirements and offer practical compliance strategies for appraisals. Learn about where the market is going, how to handle the appraisal process internally or externally, how regulations are changing and what you can do about it. The Managing the Appraisal and Evaluation Process Seminar is designed for chief credit officers, chief risk officers, senior lenders, chief appraisers and compliance professionals. Carl Streck and Josh McCabe with MountainSeed Advisors, along with Ron Neyhart, Managing Director, CB Richard Ellis, will lead this seminar Feb. 8 at Idle Hour Country Club in Macon. Registration is $195 for members. Click here to register online. With questions, please contact GBA's Courtenay Pope at 404.420.2015.


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How to Ensure Top-Notch Internal Audits; Seminar Feb. 16

Designed for internal auditors, audit committee members, operations officers, compliance officers and internal control personnel, GBA's one-day Internal Audit Seminar will cover the basic concepts related to community bank internal controls and internal audit techniques. Topics to be discussed include:

  • Essentials of risk-based auditing

  • Effectively managing the internal audit plan

  • Primary internal controls/audit techniques

  • Building an anti-fraud framework.

The seminar is Feb. 16, at Idle Hour Country Club in Macon. Registration is $225 for members and $175 for any additional registrations from the same institution. Mike Thomas with Crowe Chizek and Company, LLC will be the instructor. Click here to register online. With questions, call GBA's Courtenay Pope at 404.420.2015.


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IRA Basics Seminar Feb. 28

Designed for new account representatives, certificate of deposit personnel and any officer/manager who oversees the IRA department, GBA's annual IRA Basics Seminar will be led by Patrice Konarik with Sunwest Training Corp. in Gilchrist, TX. This comprehensive workshop will provide you with a complete understanding of the IRA as well as a review of significant proposed changes. The seminar also includes the 225-page IRA Training and Reference Manual, known as the "IRA Survival Guide" or the "Red Book". This one-day seminar will be Feb. 28 at Idle Hour Country Club in Macon. Click here to register online. With questions or to register, please contact GBA's Courtenay Pope at 404.420.2015.


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Join the IT Exam Best Practice Panel Discussion at GBA's Operations and Technology Conference

Join financial institution experts in an informative session about regulatory trends. As a highlight of the two-day conference, this session allows you to hear trends from recent examinations and discover methods to stay ahead of the examination curve. Our panelists are Tom Hinkel, Safe Systems, Inc., Joe Lima, IS Audits, Inc., Peggy Gachesa, GACHA and David Hart, NETBankAudit. This year's Operations and Technology Conference is for Feb. 29-March 1 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. Click here to register online. With questions, please contact GBA's Marybeth Jones at 404.420.2032.


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Cash Flow Analysis, Financial Analysis and Robbery Prevention among Highlighted Offerings 

A GBA Webinar is a great way to quickly get the training you need right from the comfort of your office. Here's a sample of upcoming offerings. Check the Calendar of Events for any webinars you're interested in at

All webinars are live and allow time for questions and answers. The $255 registration fee gives you access to one web site "seat," one telephone site license and all handout materials. If you can't attend the webinar, you may buy the audio CD, handout materials and a password to see the information online. With questions, please contact GBA's Courtenay Pope at 404.420.2015.


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Get Started with an AIB Course Today

Analyzing Financial Statements, Supervisor Certificate, Consumer Lending among February Courses

Here are the instructor-led AIB online classes offered during February. All you need is a computer, printer and Internet access. (Classes with an asterisk * require Microsoft Excel Software.) Please register two weeks in advance to secure a seat in the class.

Please see the AIB Online Course Schedule for a complete listing or contact GBA's Alison Moreau at 404.420.2034 with questions.


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Get a Free Market Analysis and Save Money on Local Interest Rate Data with RateWatch

RateWatch offers GBA members discounts on important competitive interest rate data to help your bank with pricing decisions and also to evaluate your local interest rate markets related to FDIC rules for rate caps. RateWatch acquires interest rates, fees and other product information for more than 80,000 financial institution locations. All GBA members are entitled to one FREE local-area market analysis to determine the average rates for their local-area market standard deposit products. Contact Denise Beech at 800.348.1831, ext. 216, to subscribe to a new report from RateWatch today.


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Federal Flood Offers Low-Cost Determinations and NFIP-approved Solutions

Short-term renewals of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) kept it running in 2011 despite various unsuccessful attempts to attach a long-term extension to approved legislation. The program has been extended to May 31, 2012. A long-term extension is critical to providing support for the recovering real estate, insurance and financial markets in Georgia. Federal Flood Certification Corp. already provides GBA members with flood zone determinations that are priced lower than other providers, unmatched personalized service, a high-quality dispute resolution process. Did you know that Federal Flood can also provide other standard and force-placed NFIP products such as free quotes, tracking and portfolio reviews for their clients? And, doing business with Federal Flood also supports GBA. Learn more about that right here. For more information, please call Federal Flood’s Ed McLin at 214.441.5903, or GBA's Bo Brannen at 404.420.2014.


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Find a Job, Post a Job with GBA Job Bank

The Georgia Bankers Association offers free job posting resources for our member banks. These listings can be viewed online or through our bi-weekly print publication, the GBA Bulletin. Resume postings are also available. For more information, please contact Kenyetta Parks at 404.420.2035.


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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 David Oliver and Bogan Brannen.


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Atlanta - Alston & Bird, LLP

GBA Bank Counsel Member Alston & Bird was ranked the No. 24 best place to work in the U.S. by Fortune Magazine.


Bainbridge - First National Bank of Decatur County

April Floyd has been named Consumer and Mortgage Lender, and Janet Dowdy has been named Banking Officer and Branch Supervisor.


Fitzgerald - Colony Bankcorp.

Our thoughts are with former Chairman Morris Downing, who recently tendered his resignation as Director and Chairman of the Board for health reasons. Downing served as a Director of Colony Bankcorp, Inc. since 1994. Gene Waldron, has been elected Chairman effective immediately


Jonesboro - The Heritage Bank

Heritage Bank has announced the addition of an Advisory Board to Henry County that will facilitate ongoing development in that market through a group of professionals.







The Heritage Bank Advisory Board to Henry County
Pictured left to right: Mike Burt- Eagles Landing Christian Foundation, Gerald Hudgins- Apple Realty, John Lunsford- Woodforest Realty LLC, Leonard Moreland- President- Heritage Bank, Kerry Arnold- Vice President Heritage Bank, Laura Crumbley- Laura S Crumbley CPA PC,  Frank Holcomb- Georgia Flooring Outlet, Jeff Cooper- Piedmont Henry Hospital/ J2 Productions, Not Pictured- Melissa Chapman- Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity.


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