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Justin Strickland, President of First Reliance Bank
Justin Strickland, President of First Reliance Bank

Justin Strickland, President of First Reliance, has been appointed Vice Chair of the Lexington Medical Center Board of Directors. The Lexington Medical Center Board of Directors shares a commitment to providing quality health services that meet the needs of our communities. Responsibilities of board members include strategic planning and mission, vision and values, quality and performance measurement, and monitoring and financial oversight.

First Reliance Bank Introduces Our NEW Digital Customer Service


It starts with FReDA, our digital assistant, who can answer your questions 24/7. Then, it continues with our online customer care specialists, who can chat during banking hours. They can upgrade from text chat to voice chat or video chat, screen share, and co-browse.

Have you noticed the new “Let’s talk!” chat bubble on our website or online banking? Or, have you seen the ”Live Help” chat bubble while reviewing your account in our mobile app?

First Reliance Bank is excited to announce our new Digital Customer Service. Our online and mobile support is easy to navigate, ask questions of, and get answers quickly. We are pleased to introduce “FReDA,” our brand-new digital assistant. So, click “Let’s talk!” and select "Chat," and FReDA can assist you whenever you have questions. If you need additional help, FReDA can connect you with a customer care specialist*. Once connected to a specialist, ...

Debit Card Fraud: What it is and how to avoid it.


As we move deeper into the digital age, the threat of fraud has become more pervasive than ever. Thankfully, the technology that has enabled fraudsters to become more sophisticated can also combat them. Enter AI and machine learning.

These cutting-edge technologies are rapidly transforming the fraud prevention landscape by allowing businesses to identify and prevent fraudulent activity in real time. Through the analysis of vast amounts of data and learning from historical patterns, AI and machine learning algorithms can identify suspicious transactions and flag them for further review.

One of the most significant benefits of AI and machine learning is their ability to adapt to new threats quickly. As fraudsters develop new techniques and tactics, these technologies can evolve and learn from these changes, ensuring they remain effective in the face of emerging threats.

In addition to preventing fraud, AI and machine learning can help businesses reduce false positives, ...

Shanell Cook, Treasury Services Officer, First Reliance Bank Winston-Salem Branch
Shanell Cook, Treasury Services Officer, First Reliance Bank Winston-Salem Branch


Shanell Cook has been promoted to Treasury Services Officer for the Winston-Salem branch. As Treasury Services Officer, she supports the team’s effort to grow the bank’s deposit base through treasury service products. Additionally, she supports team members and clients in the First Reliance footprint with treasury management training, support, and financial analysis with proformas. She will continue in her role, supporting the bank with merchant services and credit card services while serving as liaison with third-party vendors.

Shanell joined the bank in 2021 with 24 years of banking experience with strengths in customer service and treasury services.

Suzanne Hill, First Reliance Market President for Winston-Salem said, “Shanell’s promotion to Treasury Services Officer is well deserved. She is a proven leader who consistently delivers hard work, determination, and a positive attitude to staff and our customers.”

Shanell and her husband of 22 years have six children and are a foster ...

Rick Saunders, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of First Reliance Bank
Rick Saunders, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of First Reliance Bank


Rick Saunders, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of First Reliance has been appointed to the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Health Fund Advisory as Director. As a Board member, Rick, a loyal advocate of the Children’s Hospital within the community, will advise on financial responsibilities with development while participating in third-party community events to support keeping MUSC kids at the forefront of the community. Board members support the efforts of the Children’s Hospital Fund and the Children’s Miracle Network staff and stay current on the hospital’s departmental fundraising needs.

Rick said, "Participation is key to driving positive change and making a difference in our communities. By getting involved in initiatives like the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Health Fund Advisory, we can help improve the health and well-being of children in our state; whether that is through financial support, volunteering, or advocating for the cause, every contribution ...

Farewell Frederick (Freddie) R. Saunders, Sr.


Freddie Saunders, 86, of Florence, South Carolina, died peacefully on January 9, 2024, at the McLeod Health Hospice Care.

Freddie was born in Sumter, South Carolina, on May 24, 1937, to the late Carl Frasier Saunders, Sr., and Martha Gardner Saunders. He is survived by his brothers, Carl Frasier Saunders, Jr. and Jimmy Saunders, and his wife, Jane, both of Sumter, South Carolina.

He grew up in Sumter, South Carolina, and began a career with Suburban Propane Gas at the early age of 19, where he remained with the company in a management role until his retirement at the age of 62, working 43 years for the same company.

Believing retirement was the goal, he realized that having days without a sense of real purpose was not as enjoyable as he envisioned, so he launched an entirely new career. From age 63 until his passing at 86 (23 years), ...

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 ...