A Message from GBA Chairman Chuck Copeland

From the March 13, 2020, GBA E-Bulletin:

We are all monitoring the fast-breaking news related to the coronavirus, and I wanted to use this week's E-Bulletin to communicate with our members about what we at the Georgia Bankers Association are doing. It’s times like these that we bankers are expected to lead, and we will do just that. In speaking with many of our members, it’s obvious this is a time when we need to focus on our families, our communities and our banks so we can remain being the critical resource we are. The health professionals have asked that we all take extraordinary measures to help stop the spread of the virus. We are therefore announcing that GBA will not be holding the in-person events we have scheduled during March and April. The volunteer committees that planned those events and our staff will be reviewing alternative ways to deliver that valuable content you’ve come to expect, so stay tuned for more information. We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional action as appropriate. Most of our community bank members rely on the GBA Insurance Trust, Inc. for your health, life and disability insurance coverage. The Board that oversees those programs chaired by Rick Whaley, Citizens Bank of Americus, has been proactive over the years in building strong reserves, and the Trust is in the enviable position of being there when you need it most. Implementing telemedicine last year has proven to be well-received by those choosing that option and we expect increased usage going forward. I happen to also chair the GBA Retirement Services, Inc. Board which provides retirement planning and 401(k) administration to many members. The volatility in the markets is obviously troubling in the short term. We’ve been intentional in our efforts over the years to put a program in place that helps our employees be retirement ready when that time comes. We are communicating directly with those covered by the retirement plan to help them make prudent decisions. I performed a quick analysis of my own bank’s plan and was pleased to determine that though our overall bank plan assets had taken a hit, it was roughly only one-third of the hit inflicted on the broader markets. On the advocacy front, our staff is fielding calls from the media and we are well-represented by them at the State Capitol and in Washington, D.C. We are in constant contact with those outside the industry as the trusted resource they’ve come to rely on throughout our 128-year history. Please know that we do not make decisions like these lightly. Our first obligation is to our members and we feel we are taking the appropriate steps based on your needs. Please call me at 678.510.5126 or email me at ccopeland@fnbbanking.com if you have questions, comments or would like to discuss further. With questions for the staff, these are the key people to reach out to if you need them:

  • Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026 – Overall Strategy
  • David Oliver, 404.420.2036 – Education, Member Services, Communications (internal and external)
  • Dan Thomason, 404.420.2016; Susan Kelly, 404.420.2017 – Employee Insurance, Claims payment, 125 plan administration
  • Mandy Richards, 404.420.2015 – Retirement and 401(k) plans
  • Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027 – Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy

Thank you for your ongoing confidence in and support of the Georgia Bankers Association.

Mr. J. Charles Copeland
President & CEO
First National Bank of Griffin
2019-2020 GBA Chairman