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Holiday Cheer Begins at First Reliance

The presence of the Grinch and the Easter Bunny, along with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus (aka Mary Neale Fowler), added festivity and excitement to the bank’s annual event. The combination of these iconic characters created a sense of wonder and excitement among attendees, especially children who were thrilled to meet their favorite holiday figures. Together, these characters made a playful and festive atmosphere that enhanced the overall experience for everyone involved.

As the group visited different locations, including the Florence Fire Station, Mount Pleasant Office, West Columbia Office, and the Lexington Office, they continued to spread holiday cheer and brought smiles to everyone they encountered. The tradition of this event has grown over the years, becoming a beloved part of the community and a highlight for many during the festive season.

First Reliance deserves credit for organizing and expanding this event across multiple locations, allowing more people to participate ...

Steve Howard Market President for Lake Norman / Charlotte Markets
Steve Howard Market President for Lake Norman / Charlotte Markets

Steve Howard has joined First Reliance Bank as Market President for the Lake Norman/Charlotte Market where he will be responsible for the strategic market expansion of the bank’s footprint. As he oversees all lines of business, including personal banking, business and commercial banking, investments, and treasury services, he will implement a relationship strategy to include community development and involvement while managing the sales management process.

“We are pleased to announce Steve Howard as Market President for the Lake Norman / Charlotte market.  This strategic decision is based on Steve’s proven ability to deliver high customer satisfaction as a trusted banking advisor. He knows how to lead teams and what it takes to build a strong community bank.  His extensive industry experience will expand our commercial and local business and customer opportunities,” stated Justin Strickland, President, First Reliance Bank.

Steve will play a key role in First Reliance Mortgage’s growth and ...

Mark Schepp, Vice President, Residential Lending Specialist
Mark Schepp, Vice President, Residential Lending Specialist

Mark Schepp has joined First Reliance Bank as Vice President Residential Lending Specialist where he will work out of the Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Corporate Center location in Mount Pleasant, SC. He will establish and maintain mortgage banking relationships with referral partners and new clients.

“Mark’s depth of mortgage lending experience and his appreciation of community banking relationships makes him an excellent addition to First Reliance Bank,” said Chuck Stuart, President of First Reliance Mortgage Division.

“We are delighted to welcome Mark to our team. Mark’s experience, knowledge, and work ethic will enable First Reliance to continue to provide exceptional service to the Charleston market,” said Sarah Baldwin, Senior Vice President Retail Mortgage Sales.

Mark has over 27 years of experience encompassing mortgage lending and banking within the local Charleston market. For the past seven years, he has worked directly with financial and private bank advisors who have an extensive background with ...


First Reliance Bank is pleased to celebrate 15 years as a Top 100 Workplace by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a national, nonprofit public charity dedicated to finding forever families for children waiting to be adopted from foster care. These workplaces are selected after an analysis of company adoption benefits compiled through the Foundation’s survey of more than 500 U.S. employers. The two determining factors are the financial reimbursement for adoption and paid leave to employees who adopt.

Rick Saunders, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of First Reliance, shared, “Adoption has always been personal to me as my wife and daughters were adopted. While I am most grateful for the love that has been brought to my family through adoption, being able to support our associates who seek to adopt children is now and will always be highly important to our institution.”



How to Recognize and Report Spam Text Messages

All cell phone users often use their phones to text people they know many times a day. But have you ever received a text message from someone you do not know? Sure, it could be a mistaken attempt; however, it is more likely that it is a scammer trying to steal your personal and financial information. Do you know how to handle and report unwanted text messages?

The Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Advice website offers excellent information on recognizing and reporting spam text messages. They want to educate anyone using a mobile device or computer about phishing fraudulent attempts to steal personal information. Scammers can use any means to trick you into sharing information or giving you money.

Scammers want to entice you to click on links in their text messages or emails by promising free prizes, gift cards, low or no-interest-rate credit cards, or promises to help pay off ...

George Smythe, Senior Vice President Residential Lending Specialist
George Smythe, Senior Vice President Residential Lending Specialist


George Smythe has joined First Reliance Bank as Senior Vice President Residential Lending Specialist. In his role, George is responsible for establishing and maintaining mortgage banking relationships with referral partners and clients in Charleston and the surrounding area.

“We are excited to have George join our team. George is esteemed in the Charleston market and brings over 40 years of banking experience to First Reliance. His relationships and connections will be invaluable to the growth of FRB Mortgage,” said Sarah Baldwin, SVP Retail Mortgage Sales.

“George is a great addition to our team. He is universally respected, operates with high integrity, and works tirelessly to advocate for his clients to find solutions to fit their mortgage needs. First Reliance Bank is as passionate about our customers as we are about the home loan products and services we offer. When you work with First Reliance Bank, our professional mortgage experts ...

It's Easy to Stay Safe Online


This year, during October's Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the theme is "It's easy to stay safe online," where we are encouraged to focus on four key behaviors to stay safe online:

  1. Enable multifactor authentication.
  2. Use strong passwords and a password manager.
  3. Update software (and keep it updated.)
  4. Recognize and report phishing.

First, multifactor authentication allows you to protect yourself in multiple ways. MFA is sometimes called two-factor authentication or two-step verification. It is an important cybersecurity measure that requires you to prove your identity in numerous ways. Typically, this includes verifying your identity another way after entering your username and password. Examples include using a fingerprint or responding to a text message.

Second, establish strong passwords and use a password manager. Since passwords are the keys to your digital castle, regardless of which accounts they protect, create all passwords using three guiding principles:

  • LONG (at least 12 characters long), ...

Bad Weather Prep


Everything might seem cozy and safe at home, but imagine severe weather hits the area. We’re talking about a “quick, we have to get out of here” severe weather.   

Are you ready financially?  

You can be, and it won’t take long.  Following are some quick tips.  

How to Store Documents 

Get a durable storage box that is waterproof. 

How Much Cash to Have for Emergency 

Keep a small amount of cash in it—money you can use for purchases if the power goes out for a few days and you find yourself in the dark.   

What Documents to Store 

Also, place important financial papers like insurance policies, wills, and a spare checkbook in the storage box. 

Direct Deposit 

A big problem when having to evacuate and leave town is how you get your paycheck. This is another reason—and there are many—to have direct deposit. Your ...

Embarking on a Quarter of a Century

As First Reliance Bank embarks on our 25th year, we are pleased to share Rick Saunders' recent social media post below. Stay tuned throughout the coming months as we have celebrations planned in each market and will share our branch community efforts, including customer service milestones.    

"Paul Saunders and I are humbled and honored when reminded that we’ve just celebrated our 24th anniversary for First Reliance Bank this month, and soon, we’ll embark on a quarter of a century. From the beginning, you have trusted us and have allowed us to serve you with great pride and pleasure.

In the couple of years of our opening for business, our industry saw historic levels of new bank start-ups across the country. After 24 years, over 80% of those banks no longer exist. This certainly is a testament to our talented associates, our customers, and the community's loyalty and support. ...

Zach Brown, Senior Vice President, Director of Customer Solutions & Asset Management
Zach Brown, Senior Vice President, Director of Customer Solutions & Asset Management


First Reliance Bank announces that Zach Brown has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Director of Customer Solutions & Asset Management. He is responsible for bank-wide management of collections, special assets, the call center, and facilities.

Rick Saunders, Chief Executive Officer of First Reliance Bank, shared, “Zach continues to provide outstanding customer interaction processes with careful attention to the bank’s asset management.”

Ben Brazell, Executive Vice President of Retail Banking said, “Zach provides value and support of our bank’s purpose and values. As a recipient of the First Reliance Culture Coin, he clearly delivers our brand purpose to make things BETTER.”

Zach earned a degree in Business Management in 2007 from Florence Darlington Technical College.


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