GBA Member Profile

Bryan Clements
Senior VP & Chief Credit Officer
Bank of Hazlehurst, Hazlehurst, GA
Member, GBA Agriculture Committee
Published May 16, 2024

Q: What led you to a career in banking?
A: I have always been intrigued by finance and accounting. Coming from a family of CPAs, I knew that accounting would limit my strengths. I was looking for something that would allow me to interact with and help people. Banking was the perfect fit. Early in my career, I managed a sizeable construction to Perm. Portfolio on the South Georgia Coast. Business was good and I quickly made a name for myself as I could deal with both the islanders and the contractors. I would later shift direction towards commercial and C&I lending. The final step in my maturation was Ag Lending. Agriculture is the largest industry in Georgia and must be a staple of a lender in rural South Georgia. Ultimately, banking has provided me with an opportunity to connect with people.

Q: What was the most useful piece of advice you received in the early/formative years of your career?
A: Gene Haskins, currently with Douglas National Bank, is someone who gave me an opportunity early on. I consider him a mentor and he was instrumental in developing me as a banker. As it relates to managing people, he said, “Set your expectations up front. Then you can inspect what you expect.” This has been beneficial for me to understand what is expected of me and to set the expectation of those who work for me.

Banking is built on relationships. I have been fortunate to work for and with many other bankers from the Gene Haskins coaching tree throughout my career.

Q: Tell us about one experience you’ve had that exemplifies being a banker or your role at the bank, such as a service story that really helped a customer or a quirky story.
A: I have been involved in two bank robberies. Both involved guns. In both cases, the assailant was caught. In one instance, I stepped out for a loan closing. In my haste to leave the bank, I forgot something. Upon returning to the bank, I entered through a private door which was unseen by the lobby. It was like something from a movie. Everyone was laying on the ground with their hands on their heads. I hear someone say, “I am only interested in the money, do as I say and no one will get hurt.” There is no amount of training for this. I quickly retraced my steps and stepped outside while unseen. I called 911 and explained the situation. Authorities responded very quickly. The assailant fled to a stolen car and a high speed chase ensued. I was told that the authorities lost him in the chase.

Minutes later, I was told that the assailant had been apprehended. The catch, he had no money on him! As if not crazy enough, this is where the story really gets interesting. The stolen vehicle was a GMC. The owner had OnStar. Police were able to determine that the assailant had stopped for ~3 minutes off a dirt road. They went to the spot, walked into the woods and found the money stashed by a tree.

Though interesting, this is not something that has defined my career. There are thousands of instances in which I have been able to help start a business, fund a farming operation or build a family’s dream home. These are the experiences worth making banking a career.

Q: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: I am an avid Georgia Fan.

Q: Podcast you recommend?
A: I love true crime podcasts, Dateline and most any sports talk show.

Q: Book that you love/has made an impact?
A: Moneyball! Just because things have been done a certain way in the past doesn’t mean that there aren’t better ways to approach a situation.

Q: Most used app?
A: Amazon. Everything I need delivered to my door.