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First Reliance Bank expands financial leadership team

First Reliance Bank expands financial leadership team

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FLORENCE, S.C. — First Reliance Bank has hired Robert Haile as chief financial officer (CFO), hired Elizabeth Bunn as treasurer, and elevated Jeff Paolucci into the role of chief risk officer (CRO).

These changes begin the first phase of building out what CEO Rick Saunders describes as a “leadership team of unprecedented depth, insight and capability” in the bank’s two decades of business.

“Elizabeth and Robert are top-tier professionals in our industry, with knowledge and insight that will be invaluable to our becoming a leading bank and establishing a regional presence, while Jeff’s experience with First Reliance over the years has helped lead us to the incredible success we are experiencing. He understands our DNA and will help us design a risk-management program without sacrificing the quality banking experience our customers are accustomed to,” Saunders said. “All three understand and embrace the importance of building a culture of innovation and achievement, while holding true to our high-touch, excellent service that customers expect and deserve. At this key stage in First Reliance’s journey, we are fortunate to have them on board.”

With more than 19 years in financial services, Haile comes to First Reliance after serving as chief investment officer and treasurer for both Carolina Financial Corp and CresCom Bank in Charleston and as controller for Crescent Bank, predecessor to CresCom. He is a native of Charleston and an alumnus of the University of South Carolina.

Bunn has more than 25 years of banking industry experience. Before joining First Reliance, she was treasurer for First Citizens Bank and RBC Bank in Raleigh, N.C., and director of investments, funding and liquidity for RBC. Bunn earned her master's in business administration from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an undergraduate degree from Duke University.

Paolucci is an 18-year veteran of First Reliance Bank, having served the company notably as CFO, executive vice president and secretary. With previous experience as a FDIC safety and soundness bank examiner, he will focus on the regulatory arena and continue to help build upon an enterprise risk framework to position the bank for future growth.

Saunders said expanding the financial leadership team is part of a larger, holistic effort to position First Reliance for “transformational growth.” The bank continues to announce plans for geographic expansion and technological initiatives, he said. This growth comes as a result of conservative fiscal strategy across the last tumultuous year. First Reliance Bancshares Inc. (OTC:FSRL), the holding company for First Reliance Bank, reported record net income and earnings in the 3rd quarter of 2020. “Those results validated our thinking big and acting assertively in pursuit of a vision,” Saunders added. “We believe the conditions are ripe for bringing our unmatched level of customer care and service to new markets and we’ll be rewarded for that approach in the months ahead.”

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