GBA Member Banker Profile

Steve Wood
Executive Vice President
WB&T Bankshares Corp., Valdosta
Chairman, GBA Agriculture Committee

Q: How long have you been in banking, and will you share a little insight with us about how you became a career banker?
I actually worked part-time at my hometown bank while in college and I enjoyed it. The air conditioned building was certainly better than the farm in summertime! In 1978 I started with C&S Bank in Albany as a management trainee and have been in banking ever since. It has been a very rewarding career.
Q: What are some of the unique challenges for bankers in more rural parts of the state? 
In my opinion, the largest challenge is having the ability to service our very loyal customers while conforming to the regulatory and compliance demands. As a general rule, very few banks ever got into significant trouble by banking their local customers. Yet, we now have the government telling us how to do this.

A second, and still significant challenge, is finding the opportunity for loan growth in a smaller community. With so many small businesses struggling or even closing their doors, there just is not the number of good potential loan opportunities available and because of new mortgage rules it is difficult to bank the consumers. 

Q: Why should a bank make sure they have a representative at this year’s GBA Rural Development and Lending Conference May 14-15?
The number one reason is to leverage the resources available. The speakers are specifically geared to the needs of smaller communities, and they bring ideas to the table that will help solve some of these challenges. Another invaluable resource is the peer-to-peer discussions that take place. By sharing ideas, solutions and suggestions, rural bankers can be reminded that they are not in the battle alone and can take home vital lessons to help preserve, strengthen and grow their business.

Q: How does your participation in GBA’s programs help you most?
With the constantly evolving regulations, I find that GBA is the best, most efficient way of staying abreast of these changes. I have made some great contacts over the years through the various meetings and conferences, and it is comforting to know there is a network of resources available to help should I ever need it. 

Q: When you’re not on the job at the bank or helping out on the GBA Agriculture Committee, what do you like to do?
I enjoy hunting and fishing, but probably spend more time maintaining our family farms and enjoying my grandkids!