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Section 1: 10-K (10-K)

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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
______________________________
 
FORM 10-K
 
______________________________
Annual report pursuant to section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018
Commission file number 1-10312
 
______________________________
396925309_financialappendixt231a02a50.jpg
SYNOVUS FINANCIAL CORP.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
______________________________
 
Georgia
 
58-1134883
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
 
   (I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
1111 Bay Avenue
Suite 500, Columbus, Georgia
 
31901
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
(Zip Code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (706) 649-2311
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $1.00 Par Value
Series B Participating Cumulative Preferred Stock Purchase Rights
Fixed-to-Floating Rate Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series D
New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: NONE
______________________________

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    YES x  NO  ¨
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act.    YES  ¨    NO  x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    YES  x NO  ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    YES  x   NO  ¨
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check One):
Large accelerated filer
x
Accelerated filer
¨
 
 
 
 
Non-accelerated filer
¨ 
Smaller reporting company
¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). YES  ¨    NO x
As of June 30, 2018, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s Common Stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $5,797,502,812 based on the closing sale price of $52.83 reported on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2018.
 
As of February 26, 2019, there were 159,145,739 shares of the registrant’s Common Stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Incorporated Documents
Form 10-K Reference Locations
Portions of the Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held April 24, 2019 (“Proxy Statement”)
Part III




Table of Contents
 
 
Page
 
Index of Defined Terms
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
 
 
 





SYNOVUS FINANCIAL CORP.

INDEX OF DEFINED TERMS

ALCO – Synovus' Asset Liability Management Committee
ALL – Allowance for loan losses
AOCI – Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss)
ASC – Accounting Standards Codification
ASR – Accelerated share repurchase
ASU – Accounting Standards Update
ATM – Automatic teller machine
Azalea Merger Sub – Azalea Merger Sub Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Synovus which was formed for the express and limited purpose of the Merger
Basel III – The third Basel Accord developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision to strengthen existing regulatory capital requirements
BOLI – Bank-owned life insurance policies
BHC Act – Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended
BSA/AML – Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering
BOV – Broker’s opinion of value
C&I – Commercial and industrial
CECL – Current expected credit losses
CET1 – Common Equity Tier 1 Capital defined by Basel III capital rules
CFPB – Consumer Finance Protection Bureau
CMO – Collateralized Mortgage Obligation
Cabela’s Transaction – The transaction completed on September 25, 2017 whereby Synovus Bank acquired certain assets and assumed certain liabilities of World's Foremost Bank ("WFB") and then immediately thereafter sold WFB’s credit card assets and certain related liabilities to Capital One Bank (USA), National Association.  As a part of this transaction, Synovus Bank retained WFB’s $1.10 billion brokered time deposit portfolio and received a $75.0 million fee from Cabela’s Incorporated and Capital One.  Throughout this Report, we refer to this transaction as the “Cabela’s Transaction” and the associated $75.0 million fee received from Cabela’s and Capital One as the “Cabela’s Transaction Fee
Code – Internal Revenue Code
Company – Synovus Financial Corp. and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, except where the context requires otherwise
Covered Litigation – Certain Visa litigation for which Visa is indemnified by Visa USA members
CRA – Community Reinvestment Act
CRE – Commercial real estate
DIF – Deposit Insurance Fund
Dodd-Frank Act – The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
DRR – Dual Risk Rating
EL – Expected loss
EVE – Economic value of equity
Exchange Act – Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended
FASB – Financial Accounting Standards Board
FCB – FCB Financial Holdings, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, except where the context requires otherwise

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FDIC – Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Federal Reserve Bank – The 12 banks that are the operating arms of the U.S. central bank. They implement the policies of the Federal Reserve Board and also conduct economic research
Federal Reserve Board – The 7-member Board of Governors that oversees the Federal Reserve System, establishes monetary policy (interest rates, credit, etc.), and monitors the economic health of the country. Its members are appointed by the President subject to Senate confirmation, and serve 14-year terms
Federal Reserve System – The 12 Federal Reserve Banks, with each one serving member banks in its own district. This system, supervised by the Federal Reserve Board, has broad regulatory powers over the money supply and the credit structure
Federal Tax Reform – Enactment of H.R. 1, formerly known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, on December 22, 2017, legislation in which a number of changes were made under the Internal Revenue Code, including a reduction of the corporate income tax rate, significant limitations on the deductibility of interest, allowance of the expensing of capital expenditures, limitation on deductibility of FDIC insurance premiums, and limitation of the deductibility of certain performance-based compensation, among others
FFIEC – Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council
FFIEC Retail Credit Classification Policy – FFIEC Uniform Retail Credit Classification and Account Management Policy
FHLB – Federal Home Loan Bank
FICO – Fair Isaac Corporation
FinCEN – The Treasury's financial crimes enforcement network
FINRA – Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
GA DBF – Georgia Department of Banking and Finance
GAAP – Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the United States of America
GGL – Government guaranteed loans
Global One – Entaire Global Companies, Inc., the parent company of Global One Financial, Inc., as acquired by Synovus on October 1, 2016. Throughout this Report, we refer to this acquisition as "Global One"
GSE – Government sponsored enterprise
HELOC – Home equity line of credit
Interagency Supervisory Guidance – Interagency Supervisory Guidance on Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses Estimation Practices for Loans and Lines of Credit Secured by Junior Liens on 1-4 Family Residential Properties
IRS – Internal Revenue Service
ISO – Independent sales organization
LGD – Loss given default
LIBOR – London Interbank Offered Rate
LIHTC – Low Income Housing Tax Credit
LTV – Loan-to-collateral value ratio
Merger Agreement – Agreement and Plan of Merger by and among Synovus, FCB and Azalea Merger Sub dated as of July 23, 2018
Merger – The January 1, 2019 merger of Azalea Merger Sub with and into FCB and immediately thereafter, the merger of FCB with and into Synovus, with Synovus as the surviving entity pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Merger Agreement.
MBS – Mortgage-backed securities
MPS – Merchant processing servicer(s)
nm – Not meaningful
NAICS – North American Industry Classification System
NOL – Net operating loss

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NPA – Non-performing assets
NPL – Non-performing loans
NSF – Non-sufficient funds
NYSE – New York Stock Exchange
OCI – Other comprehensive income
OFAC – Office of Foreign Assets Control
ORE – Other real estate
OTTI – Other-than-temporary impairment
Parent Company – Synovus Financial Corp.
ROA – Return on average assets
Rights Plan – Synovus' Shareholder Rights Plan dated April 26, 2010, as amended
ROTCE – Return on average tangible common equity
SBA – Small Business Administration
SEC – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Securities Act – Securities Act of 1933, as amended
Series C Preferred Stock – Synovus' Fixed-to-Floating Rate Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series C, $25 liquidation preference
Series D Preferred Stock – Synovus' Fixed-to-Floating Rate Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series D, $25 liquidation preference
SRR – Single Risk Rating
Synovus – Synovus Financial Corp.
Synovus Bank – A Georgia state-chartered bank and wholly-owned subsidiary of Synovus, through which Synovus conducts its banking operations
Synovus' 2018 Form 10-K – Synovus' Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018
Synovus Mortgage – Synovus Mortgage Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Synovus Bank
Synovus Securities – Synovus Securities, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Synovus
Synovus Trust – Synovus Trust Company, N.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Synovus Bank
TDR – Troubled debt restructuring (as defined in ASC 310-40)
Treasury – United States Department of the Treasury
UDAAP – Unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices
VIE – Variable interest entity (as defined in ASC 810-10)
Visa – The Visa U.S.A. Inc. card association or its affiliates, collectively
Visa Class A shares – Class A shares of common stock issued by Visa are publicly traded shares which are not subject to restrictions on sale
Visa Class B shares – Class B shares of common stock issued by Visa which are subject to restrictions with respect to sale until all of the Covered Litigation has been settled. Class B shares will be convertible into Visa Class A shares using a then current conversion ratio upon the lifting of restrictions with respect to sale of Visa Class B shares
Visa Derivative – A derivative contract with the purchaser of Visa Class B shares which provides for settlements between the purchaser and Synovus based upon a change in the ratio for conversion of Visa Class B shares into Visa Class A shares
Warrant – A warrant issued to Treasury by Synovus to purchase up to 2,215,819 shares of Synovus common stock at a per share exercise price of $65.52, as was issued by Synovus to Treasury in 2008 in connection with the Capital Purchase Program, promulgated under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. The Warrant expired on December 19, 2018.

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WFB – World's Foremost Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cabela's Incorporated

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Part I
In this Report, the words “Synovus,” “the Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Synovus Financial Corp. together with Synovus Bank and Synovus' other wholly-owned subsidiaries, except where the context requires otherwise.
FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain statements made or incorporated by reference in this Report which are not statements of historical fact, including those under “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and elsewhere in this Report, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of, and subject to the protections of, Section 27A of the Securities Act and Section 21E of the Exchange Act. Forward-looking statements include statements with respect to Synovus' beliefs, plans, objectives, goals, targets, expectations, anticipations, assumptions, estimates, intentions and future performance and involve known and unknown risks, many of which are beyond Synovus' control and which may cause Synovus' actual results, performance or achievements or the financial services industry or economy generally, to be materially different from future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.
All statements other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements. You can identify these forward-looking statements through Synovus' use of words such as “believes,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “may,” “will,” “assumes,” “predicts,” “could,” “should,” “would,” “intends,” “targets,” “estimates,” “projects,” “plans,” “potential” and other similar words and expressions of the future or otherwise regarding the outlook for Synovus' future business and financial performance and/or the performance of the financial services industry and economy in general. Forward-looking statements are based on the current beliefs and expectations of Synovus' management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements in this document. Many of these factors are beyond Synovus' ability to control or predict. These factors include, but are not limited to:
(1)
the risk that competition in the financial services industry may adversely affect our future earnings and growth;
(2)
the risk that we may not realize the expected benefits from our efficiency and growth initiatives, which could negatively affect our future profitability;
(3)
the risk that we may fail to realize all of the anticipated benefits of the Merger, or those benefits may take longer to realize than expected, and that we may encounter significant difficulties in integrating FCB;
(4)
the risk that our current and future information technology system enhancements and operational initiatives may not be successfully implemented, which could negatively impact our operations;
(5)
the risk that our enterprise risk management framework, our compliance program, or our corporate governance and supervisory oversight functions may not identify or address risks adequately, which may result in unexpected losses;
(6)
the risk that our asset quality may deteriorate, our allowance for loan losses may prove to be inadequate or may be negatively affected by credit risk exposures, and the risk that we may be unable to obtain full payment in respect of any trade or other receivables;
(7)
the risk that any future economic downturn could have a material adverse effect on our capital, financial condition, results of operations and future growth;
(8)
our ability to attract and retain key employees;
(9)
the risk that we may be required to make substantial expenditures to keep pace with regulatory initiatives and the rapid technological changes in the financial services market;
(10)
risks related to our business relationships with, and reliance upon, third parties that have strategic partnerships with us or that provide key components of our business infrastructure, including the costs of services and products provided to us by third parties, and risks related to disruptions in service or financial difficulties with a third-party vendor or business relationship;
(11)
risks related to the ability of our operational framework to identify and manage risks associated with our business such as credit risk, compliance risk, reputational risk, and operational risk, including by virtue of our relationships with third-party business partners, as well as our relationship with third-party vendors and other service providers;
(12)
our ability to identify and address cyber-security risks such as data security breaches, malware, "denial of service" attacks, "hacking" and identity theft, a failure of which could disrupt our business and result in the disclosure of and/or misuse or misappropriation of confidential or proprietary information, disruption or damage of our systems, increased costs, significant losses, or adverse effects to our reputation;
(13)
the risk related to our implementation of new lines of business or new products and services;
(14)
changes in the interest rate environment, including changes to the federal funds rate, and competition in our primary market area may result in increased funding costs or reduced earning assets yields, thus reducing margins and net interest income;
(15)
the impact of recent and proposed changes in governmental policy, laws and regulations, including proposed and recently enacted changes in the regulation and taxation of banks and financial institutions, or the interpretation or application thereof and the uncertainty of future implementation and enforcement of these regulations;


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(16)
the risk that we may be exposed to potential losses in the event of fraud and/or theft, or in the event that a third-party vendor, obligor, or business partner fails to pay amounts due to us under that relationship or under any arrangement that we enter into with them;
(17)
the risk that we may not be able to identify suitable bank and non-bank acquisition opportunities as part of our growth strategy and even if we are able to identify attractive acquisition opportunities, we may not be able to complete such transactions on favorable terms or realize the anticipated benefits from such acquisitions;
(18)
the impact on our financial results, reputation, and business if we are unable to comply with all applicable federal and state regulations or other supervisory actions or directives and any necessary capital initiatives;
(19)
changes in the cost and availability of funding due to changes in the deposit market and credit market;
(20)
the risks that if economic conditions worsen or regulatory capital rules are modified, we may be required to undertake initiatives to improve our capital position;
(21)
restrictions or limitations on access to funds from historical and alternative sources of liquidity could adversely affect our overall liquidity, which could restrict our ability to make payments on our obligations and our ability to support asset growth and sustain our operations and the operations of Synovus Bank;
(22)
the risk that we could realize losses if we sell non-performing assets and the proceeds we receive are lower than the carrying value of such assets;
(23)
our ability to receive dividends from our subsidiaries could affect our liquidity, including our ability to pay dividends or take other capital actions;
(24)
risks related to regulatory approval to take certain actions, including any dividends on our common stock or Series D Preferred Stock, any repurchases of common stock or any other issuance or redemption of any other regulatory capital instruments;
(25)
risks relation to the continued use, availability and reliability of LIBOR and other “benchmark” rates;
(26)
the risk that Federal Tax Reform could have an adverse impact on our business or our customers, including with respect to demand and pricing for our loan products;
(27)
the costs and effects of litigation, investigations, inquiries or similar matters, or adverse facts and developments related thereto;
(28)
risks related to the fluctuation in our stock price;
(29)
the effects of any damages to our reputation resulting from developments related to any of the items identified above; and
(30)
other factors and other information contained in this Report and in other reports and filings that we make with the SEC under the Exchange Act, including, without limitation, those found in "Part I - Item 1A. Risk Factors" of this Report.

For a discussion of these and other risks that may cause actual results to differ from expectations, refer to “Part I - Item 1A. Risk Factors” and other information contained in this Report and our other periodic filings, including quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K, that we file from time to time with the SEC. All written or oral forward-looking statements that are made by or are attributable to Synovus are expressly qualified by this cautionary notice. You should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements since those statements speak only as of the date on which the statements are made. Synovus undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which the statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of new information or unanticipated events, except as may otherwise be required by law.


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ITEM 1. BUSINESS
Overview
General
Synovus Financial Corp. is a financial services company and a registered bank holding company headquartered in Columbus, Georgia. We provide commercial and retail banking in addition to a full suite of specialized products and services including private banking, treasury management, wealth management, premium finance and international banking to our customers through our wholly-owned subsidiary bank, Synovus Bank, and other offices in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee.
We were incorporated under the laws of the State of Georgia in 1972. Our principal executive offices are located at 1111 Bay Avenue, Suite 500, Columbus, Georgia 31901 and our telephone number at that address is (706) 649-2311. Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SNV.” At December 31, 2018, we had total consolidated assets of $32.67 billion and total consolidated deposits of $26.72 billion.
Additional information relating to our business and our subsidiaries, including a detailed description of our operating results and financial condition for 2018, 2017 and 2016, is contained in "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" in this Report.
Banking Operations
Synovus conducts its banking operations through Synovus Bank. Synovus Bank is a Georgia state-chartered bank and operates throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Synovus Bank offers commercial banking services and retail banking services. Our commercial banking services include treasury management, asset management, capital markets services, institutional trust services and commercial, financial and real estate loans. Our retail banking services include accepting customary types of demand and savings deposits accounts; mortgage, installment and other consumer loans; investment and brokerage services; safe deposit services; automated banking services; automated fund transfers; Internet-based banking services; and bank credit card services, including Visa and MasterCard services. At December 31, 2018, Synovus Bank operated 249 branches and 335 ATMs across our footprint.
Major Non-bank Subsidiaries
In addition to our banking operations, we also provide various other financial services to our customers through the following direct and indirect wholly-owned non-bank subsidiaries:
Synovus Securities, headquartered in Columbus, Georgia, which specializes in professional portfolio management for fixed-income securities, investment banking, the execution of securities transactions as a broker/dealer, asset management and financial planning services, and the provision of individual investment advice on equity and other securities;
Synovus Trust, headquartered in Columbus, Georgia, which provides trust services; and
Synovus Mortgage, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, which offers mortgage services.
Business Developments
Synovus' strategic focus includes expanding and diversifying our franchise in terms of revenues, profitability and asset size while maintaining a community banking, relationship-based approach to banking. This strategy has encompassed both organic growth as well as acquisitions of complementary banks and financial services businesses. In the first quarter of 2019, we acquired FCB , the parent company of Florida Community Bank. At the closing date, FCB had total loans of $9.42 billion, total deposits of $10.89 billion and operated 51 full service banking centers through its wholly-owned banking subsidiary, Florida Community Bank.
Enterprise Risk Management
As a financial services organization, Synovus accepts a certain degree of risk with each business decision it makes. Risk management does not eliminate risk, but seeks to achieve an appropriate balance between risk and return, which is critical to optimizing shareholder value. Understanding our risks and managing them appropriately can enhance our ability to make better decisions, deliver on objectives, and improve performance. The enterprise risk framework has been established within Synovus, which begins with the Board of Directors, working primarily with the Risk Committee of the Board. The Risk Committee fulfills the overarching oversight role for the risk management process, including approving risk appetite and tolerance levels, risk policies and limits, monitoring key and emerging risks, and reviewing risk assessment results. In addition, oversight of certain risk is allocated to all other committees of the Board that meet regularly and report to the Board.
The Chief Risk Officer reports to the Chief Executive Officer and provides overall vision, direction and leadership regarding the enterprise risk management framework. The framework includes an Executive Risk Committee, chaired by the Chief Risk

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Officer, and various management risk committees. Executive Risk Committee membership includes all Synovus executive officers, the Chief Information Security Officer, and the Group Executive of Enterprise Risk. The committee provides management oversight of the Enterprise Risk Program and primary oversight of strategic risk, reputation risk, and litigation risk. Management risk committees are responsible for effective risk measurement, management and reporting of their respective risk categories. The Chief Risk Officer is an active member of each of the management risk committees which include:
ALCO - Interest Rate/Market Risk and Liquidity Risk
Credit Risk Committee - Credit Risk
Regulatory Compliance Risk Committee - Compliance Risk
Operational Risk Committee - Operational Risk
Management believes that Synovus' primary risk exposures are operational, regulatory compliance, credit, liquidity, and strategic risk. Operational risk arises from the potential that inadequate information systems, operational problems, inadequate or failed internal controls, human error, fraud, security breaches such as cyber-attacks, or external events will result in unexpected losses. Compliance risk arises from nonconformance with laws, rules, and regulations that apply to the financial services industry and exposes the Company to monetary penalties, enforcement actions, or other sanctions. Credit risk is risk of loss arising from our borrowers' or counterparties' inability to meet the financial terms of any contract with the Company, or other failure to perform as agreed. Liquidity risk arises from an inability of the Company to meet current or future obligations when they come due without incurring unacceptable losses. Strategic risk arises from threats to long-term growth and strategic direction such as the ability to meet competitive challenges, attract and retain customers and team members, keep pace with technological changes, and develop new products and services.
ALCO
ALCO monitors Synovus' economic, competitive, and regulatory environment and is responsible for measuring, monitoring, and reporting on liquidity and funding risk, interest rate risk, and market risk and has the authority to create policies relative to these risks. ALCO, operating under liquidity and funding policies approved by the Board of Directors, actively analyzes contractual and anticipated cash flows to properly manage Synovus' liquidity position. Operating under interest rate risk policies approved by the Board of Directors, ALCO analyzes the interest rate sensitivity of Synovus and develops and implements strategies to improve balance sheet structure and interest rate risk positioning. See “Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Liquidity” and “Item 7A. Qualitative and Quantitative Disclosures about Market Risk” in this Report for further information. The model risk management function reviews liquidity and interest rate risk models on an annual basis and prioritizes implementation of the model changes.
Credit Risk
The Company has established a credit risk management process with policies, controls and regular Board and management oversight. Credit risk management is guided by centralized credit policies that provide for a consistent and prudent approach to underwriting and approval of credits. The Credit Risk Committee, chaired by the Chief Credit Officer, monitors credit management reports, establishes lending policies, limits, and guidance to better manage the loan function, and provides strategies to manage the level of credit risk in the loan portfolio. The Credit Risk Committee oversees risk grade accuracy, credit servicing requirements, and loan concentration levels and manages risk in the execution of loan growth strategies.
The Regional Credit function reports to the Chief Credit Officer, providing independence from the lines of business. Regional Credit manages credit activities within each region, underwriting borrowing relationships over certain dollar thresholds, jointly approving loans for amounts greater than the local market's lending authority, and evaluating loan administration processes.
Synovus maintains a centralized Retail Lending Center and Small Business Lending Center where consumer and small business loans are centrally processed, scored, and analyzed. This structure enhances the control environment, drives efficiencies, and provides a more consistent overall customer experience.
Synovus has established the ALL Oversight Council to review and approve the adequacy of the allowance for loan losses and the ALL methodology. The Council includes the Chief Risk Officer, Chief Credit Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and other senior management. The Council meets at least quarterly and considers enhancements and refinements to the ALL process and models in light of new and other relevant information. The allowance adequacy and the ALL methodology are reviewed by the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors at least quarterly. The Model Risk Management function reviews the ALL models on an annual basis and prior to implementation of any significant model changes.
Regulatory Compliance Risk
Compliance laws, rules and standards generally cover matters such as observing proper standards of market conduct, managing conflicts of interest, treating customers fairly, and ensuring the suitability of customer advice. They also include basic prudential banking requirements and specific areas such as the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.

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The Regulatory Compliance Risk Committee was created to assist the Board and management in overseeing the administration of overall compliance risk at the Bank and Financial Management Services, developing and implementing policy, and ensuring that compliance issues are resolved effectively and expeditiously. The Committee is made up of senior management from the business lines, risk management, legal, human resources, and compliance functions and specifically provides oversight for the Corporate Compliance Policy and Programs, including, but not limited to UDAAP, Fair Lending, Volcker Rule, BSA/AML/OFAC, and customer complaint management throughout the Company. Written policies contain the principles to be followed by management and staff of Synovus Bank and its subsidiaries and explain and direct the processes by which risks are identified and managed. The individual policies guide the Company's compliance functions and provide for monitoring, training, and risk assessments.
Operational Risk
Synovus aims to minimize and mitigate unexpected loss through a proactive and structured approach to operational risk management. The Operational Risk Committee provides oversight of the operational risk function, maintaining effective processes to assess, monitor and mitigate operational risk. Specific responsibilities include providing a forum for addressing operational issues that require collaboration of multiple operational groups, reviewing significant operational risk exposures and remediation strategies, and reviewing risk metrics for ongoing pertinence to the risk management framework.
Business units are responsible for identifying and reporting operational risks that require resolution, participating in risk assessments, responding to changes in risk metrics and implementing corrective actions and new risk solutions. The Operational Risk Committee also oversees the various cybersecurity risks facing Synovus, including e-fraud, loss of sensitive information or service interruptions due to cyber-attacks or other disruptions or failures in Synovus' computer systems or network infrastructure.
Executive Risk Committee
The Executive Risk Committee oversees the enterprise risk program, policies and framework, monitors key and emerging risks, and evaluates the effectiveness of action plans to address key risks and issues. The Committee establishes and recommends to the Board for approval the risk appetite and risk tolerance levels. In addition, the Committee recommends capital actions, evaluates and vets stress testing results, including stress scenarios, and reviews new and modified products.
Competition
The financial services industry is highly competitive and could become more competitive as a result of recent and ongoing legislative, regulatory and technological changes, and continued consolidation within the financial services industry. Synovus Bank and our wholly-owned non-bank subsidiaries compete actively with national and state banks, savings and loan associations and credit unions and other nonbank financial intermediaries, including securities brokers and dealers, investment advisory firms, mortgage companies, insurance companies, trust companies, finance companies, leasing companies and certain governmental agencies, all of which actively engage in marketing various types of loans, deposit accounts and other financial services. In addition, competition from nontraditional banking institutions, often known as FinTech, continues to increase, with consumers having the opportunity to select from a growing variety of traditional and nontraditional alternatives. The ability of such non-banking financial institutions to provide services previously limited to commercial banks has intensified competition. Because non-banking financial institutions are not subject to many of the same regulatory restrictions as banks and bank holding companies, they can often operate with greater flexibility and lower cost structures. These competitors have been successful in developing products that are in direct competition with or are alternatives to the banking services offered by traditional banking institutions. Our ability to deliver strong financial performance will depend in part on our ability to expand the scope of, and effectively deliver, products and services, which will allow us to meet the changing needs of our customers. However, we often compete with much larger national and regional banks that have more resources than we do to deliver new products and services and introduce new technology to enhance the customer experience. See "Part I - Item 1A. Risk Factors - Competition in the financial services industry may adversely affect our future earnings and growth."
As of December 31, 2018, we were the second largest bank holding company headquartered in Georgia based on assets. Financial services customers are generally influenced by convenience, quality of service, personal contacts, price of services and availability of products.  We continue to gain traction in most of our key markets, as well as overall markets, as shown in the most recent market share deposit data for FDIC-insured institutions as of June 30, 2018.  Additionally, over the last year, we have continued to rationalize our branch network and focused on improving the mix of our deposits, while maintaining and growing market share throughout our footprint.
Employees
As of December 31, 2018, Synovus had 4,651 employees compared to 4,541 employees at December 31, 2017.

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Supervision, Regulation and Other Factors
We are extensively regulated under federal and state law. The following is a brief summary that does not purport to be a complete description of all regulations that affect us or all aspects of those regulations. This discussion is qualified in its entirety by reference to the particular statutory and regulatory provisions described below and is not intended to be an exhaustive description of the statutes or regulations applicable to the Company’s and Synovus Bank’s business. In addition, proposals to change the laws and regulations governing the banking industry are frequently raised at both the state and federal levels. The likelihood and timing of any changes in these laws and regulations, and the impact such changes may have on us and Synovus Bank, are difficult to predict. In addition, bank regulatory agencies may issue enforcement actions, policy statements, interpretive letters and similar written guidance applicable to us or to Synovus Bank. Changes in applicable laws, regulations or regulatory guidance, or their interpretation by regulatory agencies or courts may have a material adverse effect on our and Synovus Bank’s business, operations, and earnings.
Synovus Bank, Synovus Trust, and in some cases, we and our nonbank affiliates, must undergo regular on-site examinations by the appropriate regulatory agency, which will examine for adherence to a range of legal and regulatory compliance responsibilities. A bank regulator conducting an examination has complete access to the books and records of the examined institution. The results of the examination are confidential. Supervision and regulation of banks, their holding companies and affiliates is intended primarily for the protection of depositors and customers, the DIF of the FDIC, and the U.S. banking and financial system rather than holders of our capital stock.
Regulation of the Company
We are registered as a bank holding company with the Federal Reserve under the BHC Act and have elected to be treated as a financial holding company. As such, we are subject to comprehensive supervision and regulation by the Federal Reserve and are subject to its regulatory reporting requirements. Federal law subjects bank holding companies, such as the Company, to particular restrictions on the types of activities in which they may engage, and to a range of supervisory requirements and activities, including regulatory enforcement actions for violations of laws and regulations. In addition, the GA DBF regulates bank holding companies that own Georgia-chartered banks, such as us, under the bank holding company laws of the State of Georgia. Various federal and state bodies regulate and supervise our non-bank subsidiaries including our brokerage, investment advisory, insurance agency and processing operations. These include, but are not limited to, the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, federal and state banking regulators and various state regulators of insurance and brokerage activities.
Violations of laws and regulations, or other unsafe and unsound practices, may result in regulatory agencies imposing fines or penalties, cease and desist orders, or taking other enforcement actions. Under certain circumstances, these agencies may enforce these remedies directly against officers, directors, employees and other parties participating in the affairs of a bank or bank holding company. Like all bank holding companies, we are regulated extensively under federal and state law. Under federal and state laws and regulations pertaining to the safety and soundness of insured depository institutions, state banking regulators, the Federal Reserve Board, and separately the FDIC as the insurer of bank deposits, have the authority to compel or restrict certain actions on our part if they determine that we have insufficient capital or other resources, or are otherwise operating in a manner that may be deemed to be inconsistent with safe and sound banking practices. Under this authority, our bank regulators can require us or our subsidiaries to enter into informal or formal supervisory agreements, including board resolutions, memoranda of understanding, written agreements and consent or cease and desist orders, pursuant to which we would be required to take identified corrective actions to address cited concerns and to refrain from taking certain actions.
If we become subject to and are unable to comply with the terms of any future regulatory actions or directives, supervisory agreements, or orders, then we could become subject to additional, heightened supervisory actions and orders, possibly including consent orders, prompt corrective action restrictions and/or other regulatory actions, including prohibitions on the payment of dividends on our common stock and preferred stock. If our regulators were to take such additional supervisory actions, then we could, among other things, become subject to significant restrictions on our ability to develop any new business, as well as restrictions on our existing business, and we could be required to raise additional capital, dispose of certain assets and liabilities within a prescribed period of time, or both. The terms of any such supervisory action could have a material negative effect on our business, reputation, operating flexibility, financial condition, and the value of our common stock and preferred stock. See “Part I - Item 1A. Risk Factors - We may become subject to supervisory actions and enhanced regulation that could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, operating flexibility, financial condition and the value of our common stock and preferred stock” of this Report.
Activity Limitations
As a financial holding company, we are permitted to engage directly or indirectly in a broader range of activities than those permitted for a bank holding company. Bank holding companies are generally restricted to engaging in the business of banking, managing or controlling banks and certain other activities determined by the Federal Reserve to be closely related to banking. Financial holding companies may also engage in activities that are considered to be financial in nature, as well as those incidental

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or complementary to financial activities. We and Synovus Bank must each remain “well-capitalized” and “well-managed” and Synovus Bank must receive a CRA rating of at least “Satisfactory” at its most recent examination in order for us to maintain our status as a financial holding company. If Synovus Bank ceases to be “well capitalized” or “well managed” under applicable regulatory standards, or if Synovus Bank receives a rating of less than satisfactory under the CRA, the Federal Reserve Board may, among other things, place limitations on our ability to conduct these broader financial activities or, if the deficiencies persist, require us to divest the banking subsidiary or the businesses engaged in activities permissible only for financial holding companies.
In addition, the Federal Reserve has the power to order a bank holding company or its subsidiaries to terminate any nonbanking activity or terminate its ownership or control of any nonbank subsidiary, when it has reasonable cause to believe that continuation of such activity or such ownership or control constitutes a serious risk to the financial safety, soundness, or stability of any bank subsidiary of that bank holding company. As further described below, each of the Company and Synovus Bank is well-capitalized as of December 31, 2018, and Synovus Bank has an overall rating of “Satisfactory” in its most recent CRA evaluation.
Source of Strength Obligations
A financial holding company is required to act as a source of financial and managerial strength to its subsidiary bank and to maintain resources adequate to support its bank. The term “source of financial strength” means the ability of a company, such as us, that directly or indirectly owns or controls an insured depository institution, such as Synovus Bank, to provide financial assistance to such insured depository institution in the event of financial distress. The appropriate federal banking agency for the depository institution (in the case of Synovus Bank, this agency is the Federal Reserve) may require reports from us to assess our ability to serve as a source of strength and to enforce compliance with the source of strength requirements by requiring us to provide financial assistance to Synovus Bank in the event of financial distress. If we were to enter bankruptcy or become subject to the orderly liquidation process established by the Dodd-Frank Act, any commitment by us to a federal bank regulatory agency to maintain the capital of Synovus Bank would be assumed by the bankruptcy trustee or the FDIC, as appropriate, and entitled to a priority of payment. In addition, the FDIC provides that any insured depository institution generally will be liable for any loss incurred by the FDIC in connection with the default of, or any assistance provided by the FDIC to, a commonly controlled insured depository institution. Synovus Bank is an FDIC-insured depository institution and thus subject to these requirements.
Acquisitions
The BHC Act permits acquisitions of banks by bank holding companies, such that we and any other bank holding company, whether located in Georgia or elsewhere, may acquire a bank located in any other state, subject to certain deposit-percentage, age of bank charter requirements, and other restrictions. The BHC Act requires that a bank holding company obtain the prior approval of the Federal Reserve before (i) acquiring direct or indirect ownership or control of more than 5% of the voting shares of any additional bank or bank holding company, (ii) taking any action that causes an additional bank or bank holding company to become a subsidiary of the bank holding company, or (iii) merging or consolidating with any other bank holding company. The Federal Reserve may not approve any such transaction that would result in a monopoly or would be in furtherance of any combination or conspiracy to monopolize or attempt to monopolize the business of banking in any section of the United States, or the effect of which may be substantially to lessen competition or to tend to create a monopoly in any section of the country, or that in any other manner would be in restraint of trade, unless the anticompetitive effects of the proposed transaction are clearly outweighed by the public interest in meeting the convenience and needs of the community to be served. The Federal Reserve is also required to consider: (1) the financial and managerial resources of the companies involved, including pro forma capital ratios; (2) the risk to the stability of the United States banking or financial system; (3) the convenience and needs of the communities to be served, including performance under the CRA; and (4) the effectiveness of the companies in combatting money laundering.
Change in Control
Federal law restricts the amount of voting stock of a bank holding company or a bank that a person may acquire without the prior approval of banking regulators. Under the federal Change in Bank Control Act and the regulations thereunder, a person or group must give advance notice to the Federal Reserve before acquiring control of any bank holding company, such as the Company, and the Federal Reserve before acquiring control of any state member bank, such as Synovus Bank. Upon receipt of such notice, the Federal Reserve may approve or disapprove the acquisition. The Change in Bank Control Act creates a rebuttable presumption of control if a member or group acquires a certain percentage or more of a bank holding company’s or bank’s voting stock, or if one or more other control factors are present. As a result, a person or entity generally must provide prior notice to the Federal Reserve before acquiring the power to vote 10% or more of our outstanding common stock. The overall effect of such laws is to make it more difficult to acquire a bank holding company and a bank by tender offer or similar means than it might be to acquire control of another type of corporation. Consequently, shareholders of the Company may be less likely to benefit from the rapid increases in stock prices that may result from tender offers or similar efforts to acquire control of other companies. Investors should be aware of these requirements when acquiring shares of our stock.


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Governance and Financial Reporting Obligations
We are required to comply with various corporate governance and financial reporting requirements under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as rules and regulations adopted by the SEC, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and the NYSE. In particular, we are required to include management and independent registered public accounting firm reports on internal controls as part of our Annual Report on Form 10-K in order to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We have evaluated our controls, including compliance with the SEC rules on internal controls, and have and expect to continue to spend significant amounts of time and money on compliance with these rules. Our failure to comply with these internal control rules may materially adversely affect our reputation, ability to obtain the necessary certifications to financial statements, and the values of our securities. The assessments of our financial reporting controls as of December 31, 2018 are included in this report under “Item 9A. Controls and Procedures.”
Volcker Rule
In December 2013, the Federal Reserve and other regulators jointly issued final rules implementing requirements of a new Section 13 to the BHC Act, commonly referred to as the “Volcker Rule.” The Volcker Rule generally prohibits us and our subsidiaries from (i) engaging in proprietary trading for our own account, and (ii) acquiring or retaining an ownership interest in or sponsoring a “covered fund,” all subject to certain exceptions. The Volcker Rule also specifies certain limited activities in which we and our subsidiaries may continue to engage, and required us to implement a compliance program. The regulators provided for a Volcker Rule conformance date of July 21, 2015. The Federal Reserve extended the conformance deadline twice (first to July 21, 2016, and again to July 21, 2017) for certain legacy “covered funds” activities and investments in place before December 31, 2013. Further, the Federal Reserve Board permits limited exemptions, upon application, for divestiture of certain “illiquid” covered funds, for an additional period of up to 5 years beyond that date. In the first quarter of 2017, we obtained a five-year extension from the Federal Reserve to the divestiture requirement of certain funds held by us and covered by this rule. On June 5, 2018, the federal banking agencies issued proposed changes to the Volcker Rule, along with a request for public comment. The proposed changes are intended to simplify compliance with the Rule’s “proprietary trading” restrictions.
Corporate Governance
  The Dodd-Frank Act addresses many investor protections, corporate governance, and executive compensation matters that will affect most U.S. publicly traded companies. The Dodd-Frank Act (1) grants shareholders of U.S. publicly traded companies an advisory vote on executive compensation; (2) enhances independence requirements for Compensation Committee members; and (3) requires companies listed on national securities exchanges to adopt incentive-based compensation claw-back policies for executive officers.
Incentive Compensation
The Dodd-Frank Act required the banking agencies and the SEC to establish joint rules or guidelines for financial institutions with more than $1 billion in assets, such as us and Synovus Bank, which prohibit incentive compensation arrangements that the agencies determine to encourage inappropriate risks by the institution. The banking agencies issued proposed rules in 2011 and previously issued guidance on sound incentive compensation policies. In 2016, the banking agencies also proposed rules that would, depending upon the assets of the institution, directly regulate incentive compensation arrangements and would require enhanced oversight and recordkeeping. As of December 31, 2018, these rules have not been implemented by the banking agencies. We and Synovus Bank have undertaken efforts to ensure that our incentive compensation plans do not encourage inappropriate risks, consistent with three key principles-that incentive compensation arrangements should appropriately balance risk and financial rewards, be compatible with effective controls and risk management, and be supported by strong corporate governance.
Shareholder Say-On-Pay Votes
The Dodd-Frank Act requires public companies to take shareholders’ votes on proposals addressing compensation (known as say-on-pay), the frequency of a say-on-pay vote, and the golden parachutes available to executives in connection with change-in-control transactions. Public companies must give shareholders the opportunity to vote on the compensation at least every three years and the opportunity to vote on frequency at least every six years, indicating whether the say-on-pay vote should be held annually, biennially, or triennially. The last frequency on say-on-pay vote occurred at our 2014 annual shareholders meeting. The say-on-pay, the say-on-parachute and the say-on-frequency votes are explicitly nonbinding and cannot override a decision of our Board of Directors.
Other Regulatory Matters
We and our subsidiaries are subject to oversight by the SEC, the FINRA, the PCAOB, the NYSE and various state securities and insurance regulators. We and our subsidiaries have from time to time received requests for information from regulatory authorities in various states, including state attorneys general, securities regulators and other regulatory authorities, concerning our business practices. Such requests are considered incidental to the normal conduct of business.

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Capital Requirements
We and Synovus Bank are required under federal law to maintain certain minimum capital levels based on ratios of capital to total assets and capital to risk-weighted assets. The required capital ratios are minimums, and the Federal Reserve may determine that a banking organization, based on its size, complexity or risk profile, must maintain a higher level of capital in order to operate in a safe and sound manner. Risks such as concentration of credit risks and the risk arising from non-traditional activities, as well as the institution’s exposure to a decline in the economic value of its capital due to changes in interest rates, and an institution’s ability to manage those risks are important factors that are to be taken into account by the federal banking agencies in assessing an institution’s overall capital adequacy. The following is a brief description of the relevant provisions of these capital rules and their potential impact on our capital levels.
The Company and Synovus Bank are subject to the following risk-based capital ratios: a CET1 risk-based capital ratio, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio, which includes CET1 and additional Tier 1 capital, and a total capital ratio, which includes Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital. CET1 is primarily comprised of the sum of common stock instruments and related surplus net of treasury stock and retained earnings less certain adjustments and deductions, including with respect to goodwill, intangible assets, mortgage servicing assets and deferred tax assets subject to temporary timing differences. Additional Tier 1 capital is primarily comprised of noncumulative perpetual preferred stock. Tier 2 capital consists of instruments disqualified from Tier 1 capital, including qualifying subordinated debt and a limited amount of loan loss reserves up to a maximum of 1.25% of risk-weighted assets, subject to certain eligibility criteria. The capital rules also define the risk-weights assigned to assets and off-balance sheet items to determine the risk-weighted asset components of the risk-based capital rules, including, for example, certain “high volatility” commercial real estate, past due assets, structured securities and equity holdings.
The leverage capital ratio, which serves as a minimum capital standard, is the ratio of Tier 1 capital to quarterly average assets net of goodwill, certain other intangible assets, and certain required deduction items. The required minimum leverage ratio for all banks and bank holding companies is 4%.
In addition, the capital rules require a capital conservation buffer of up to 2.5% above each of the minimum capital ratio requirements (CET1, Tier 1, and total risk-based capital), which is designed to absorb losses during periods of economic stress. These buffer requirements must be met for a bank or bank holding company to be able to pay dividends, engage in share buybacks or make discretionary bonus payments to executive management without restriction. This capital conservation buffer is being phased in, and was 1.875% as of January 1, 2018 and is 2.5% effective January 1, 2019.
Failure to be well-capitalized or to meet minimum capital requirements could result in certain mandatory and possible additional discretionary actions by regulators that, if undertaken, could have an adverse material effect on our operations or financial condition. For example, only a well-capitalized depository institution may accept brokered deposits without prior regulatory approval. Failure to be well-capitalized or to meet minimum capital requirements could also result in restrictions on the Company’s or Synovus Bank’s ability to pay dividends or otherwise distribute capital or to receive regulatory approval of applications or other restrictions on its growth.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (“FDICIA”), among other things, requires the federal bank regulatory agencies to take “prompt corrective action” regarding depository institutions that do not meet minimum capital requirements. FDICIA establishes five regulatory capital tiers: “well capitalized”, “adequately capitalized”, “undercapitalized”, “significantly undercapitalized”, and “critically undercapitalized”. A depository institution’s capital tier will depend upon how its capital levels compare to various relevant capital measures and certain other factors, as established by regulation. FDICIA generally prohibits a depository institution from making any capital distribution (including payment of a dividend) or paying any management fee to its holding company if the depository institution would thereafter be undercapitalized. The FDICIA imposes progressively more restrictive restraints on operations, management and capital distributions, depending on the category in which an institution is classified. Undercapitalized depository institutions are subject to restrictions on borrowing from the Federal Reserve System. In addition, undercapitalized depository institutions may not accept brokered deposits absent a waiver from the FDIC, are subject to growth limitations and are required to submit capital restoration plans for regulatory approval. A depository institution's holding company must guarantee any required capital restoration plan, up to an amount equal to the lesser of 5% of the depository institution's assets at the time it becomes undercapitalized or the amount of the capital deficiency when the institution fails to comply with the plan. Federal banking agencies may not accept a capital plan without determining, among other things, that the plan is based on realistic assumptions and is likely to succeed in restoring the depository institution's capital. If a depository institution fails to submit an acceptable plan, it is treated as if it is significantly undercapitalized. All of the federal bank regulatory agencies have adopted regulations establishing relevant capital measures and relevant capital levels for federally insured depository institutions.
To be well-capitalized, Synovus Bank must maintain at least the following capital ratios:
6.5% CET1 to risk-weighted assets;
8.0% Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets;
10.0% Total capital to risk-weighted assets; and

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5.0% leverage ratio.
The Federal Reserve has not yet revised the well-capitalized standard for bank holding companies to reflect the higher capital requirements imposed under the current capital rules applicable to banks. For purposes of the Federal Reserve’s Regulation Y, including determining whether a bank holding company meets the requirements to be a financial holding company, bank holding companies, such as the Company, must maintain a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 6.0% or greater and a total risk-based capital ratio of 10.0% or greater to be well-capitalized. If the Federal Reserve were to apply the same or a very similar well-capitalized standard to bank holding companies as that applicable to Synovus Bank, the Company’s capital ratios as of December 31, 2018 would exceed such revised well-capitalized standard. Also, the Federal Reserve may require bank holding companies, including the Company, to maintain capital ratios substantially in excess of mandated minimum levels, depending upon general economic conditions and a bank holding company’s particular condition, risk profile and growth plans.
The Company’s and Synovus Bank’s regulatory capital ratios were above the applicable well-capitalized standards and met the then-applicable capital conservation buffer.   Based on current estimates, we believe that the Company and Synovus Bank will continue to exceed all applicable well-capitalized regulatory capital requirements and the capital conservation buffer.  As of December 31, 2018, the consolidated capital ratios of Synovus and Synovus Bank were as follows:
Table 1 – Capital Ratios as of December 31, 2018
(dollars in thousands)
 
Synovus
 
Synovus Bank
CET1 ratio
 
9.95
%
 
11.62
%
Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio
 
10.61

 
11.62

Total risk-based capital ratio
 
12.37

 
12.49

Leverage ratio
 
9.60

 
10.51

 
 
 
 
 
"Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Capital Resources" and "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 11 - Regulatory Capital of this report for further information.
In May 2018, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act was enacted, which provided banking organizations having less than $50 billion in consolidated assets, such as us and Synovus Bank, with relief from the annual company-run stress testing previously required by the Dodd-Frank Act.
On December 21, 2018, federal banking agencies issued a joint final rule to revise their regulatory capital rules to (i) address the upcoming implementation of the CECL accounting standard under GAAP; (ii) provide an optional three-year phase-in period for the day-one adverse regulatory capital effects that banking organizations are expected to experience upon adopting CECL; and (iii) require the use of CECL in stress tests beginning with the 2020 capital planning and stress testing cycle for certain banking organizations. In June 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-13, which introduced CECL as the methodology to replace the current “incurred loss” methodology for financial assets measured at amortized cost, and changed the approaches for recognizing and recording credit losses on available-for-sale debt securities and purchased credit impaired financial assets. Under the incurred loss methodology, credit losses are recognized only when the losses are probable or have been incurred; under CECL, companies are required to recognize the full amount of expected credit losses for the lifetime of the financial assets, based on historical experience, current conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts. This change will result in earlier recognition of credit losses that the Company deems expected but not yet probable. For SEC reporting companies with December 31 fiscal-year ends, such as the Company, CECL will become effective beginning with the first quarter of 2020.
Payment of Dividends
We are a legal entity separate and distinct from Synovus Bank and our other subsidiaries. Our primary source of cash, other than securities offerings, is dividends from Synovus Bank. Under the laws of the State of Georgia, we, as a business corporation, may declare and pay dividends in cash or property unless the payment or declaration would be contrary to restrictions contained in our Articles of Incorporation, or unless, after payment of the dividend, we would not be able to pay our debts when they become due in the usual course of our business or our total assets would be less than the sum of our total liabilities. In addition, we are also subject to federal regulatory capital requirements that effectively limit the amount of cash dividends that we may pay.
The primary sources of funds for our payment of dividends to our shareholders are cash on hand and dividends from Synovus Bank and our non-bank subsidiaries. Various federal and state statutory provisions and regulations limit the amount of dividends that Synovus Bank and our non-bank subsidiaries may pay. Synovus Bank is a Georgia bank. Under the regulations of the GA DBF, a Georgia bank must have approval of the GA DBF to pay cash dividends if, at the time of such payment:
the ratio of Tier 1 capital to adjusted total assets is less than 6%;

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the aggregate amount of dividends to be declared or anticipated to be declared during the current calendar year exceeds 50% of its net after-tax profits before dividends for the previous calendar year; or
its total classified assets in its most recent regulatory examination exceeded 80% of its Tier 1 capital plus its allowance for loan and lease losses.
The Georgia Financial Institutions Code contains restrictions on the ability of a Georgia bank to pay dividends other than from retained earnings without the approval of the GA DBF. As a result of the foregoing restrictions, Synovus Bank may be required to seek approval from the GA DBF to pay dividends.
In addition, we and Synovus Bank are subject to various general regulatory policies and requirements relating to the payment of dividends, including requirements to maintain adequate capital above regulatory minimums. The appropriate federal bank regulatory authority may prohibit the payment of dividends where it has determined that the payment of dividends would be an unsafe or unsound practice and to prohibit payment thereof. The Federal Reserve has indicated that paying dividends that deplete a bank’s capital base to an inadequate level would be an unsound and unsafe banking practice. The Federal Reserve has indicated that depository institutions and their holding companies should generally pay dividends only out of current operating earnings.
Under a Federal Reserve policy adopted in 2009, the board of directors of a bank holding company must consider different factors to ensure that its dividend level is prudent relative to maintaining a strong financial position, and is not based on overly optimistic earnings scenarios, such as potential events that could affect its ability to pay, while still maintaining a strong financial position. As a general matter, the Federal Reserve has indicated that the board of directors of a bank holding company should consult with the Federal Reserve and eliminate, defer or significantly reduce the bank holding company’s dividends if:
its net income available to shareholders for the past four quarters, net of dividends previously paid during that period, is not sufficient to fully fund the dividends;
its prospective rate of earnings retention is not consistent with its capital needs and overall current and prospective financial condition; or
it will not meet, or is in danger of not meeting, its minimum regulatory capital adequacy ratios.
Regulation of the Bank
Synovus Bank, which is a member of the Federal Reserve System, is subject to comprehensive supervision and regulation by the Federal Reserve Board, and is subject to its regulatory reporting requirements, as well as supervision and regulation by the GA DBF. As a member bank of the Federal Reserve System, Synovus Bank is required to hold stock in its district Federal Reserve Bank in an amount equal to 6% of their capital stock and surplus (half paid to acquire stock with the remainder held as a cash reserve). Member banks do not have any control over the Federal Reserve System as a result of owning the stock and the stock cannot be sold or traded. The annual dividend rate for member banks with total assets in excess of $10 billion, including Synovus Bank, is based on a floating dividend rate tied to10-year U.S. Treasuries with the maximum dividend rate capped at 6%.
The deposits of Synovus Bank are insured by the FDIC and, accordingly, Synovus Bank is also subject to certain FDIC regulations and the FDIC has backup examination authority and some enforcement powers over Synovus Bank. Synovus Trust, a subsidiary of Synovus Bank that provides trust services, is organized as a national trust bank and thus is subject to supervision and regulation by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
In addition, as discussed in more detail below, Synovus Bank and any other of our subsidiaries that offer consumer financial products and services are subject to regulation and potential supervision by the CFPB. The CFPB also may examine our other direct or indirect subsidiaries that offer consumer financial products or services. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act permits states to adopt consumer protection laws and regulations that are stricter than those regulations promulgated by the CFPB, and state attorneys general are permitted to enforce certain federal consumer financial protection rules adopted by the CFPB.
Broadly, regulations applicable to Synovus Bank include limitations on loans to a single borrower and to its directors, officers and employees; restrictions on the opening and closing of branch offices; the maintenance of required capital and liquidity ratios; the granting of credit under equal and fair conditions; the disclosure of the costs and terms of such credit; requirements to maintain reserves against deposits and loans; limitations on the types of investment that may be made by Synovus Bank; and requirements governing risk management practices. Synovus Bank is permitted under federal law to branch on a de novo basis across state lines where the laws of that state would permit a bank chartered by that state to open a de novo branch.
Transactions with Affiliates and Insiders
Synovus Bank is subject to restrictions on extensions of credit and certain other transactions between Synovus Bank and the Company or any nonbank affiliate. Generally, these covered transactions with either the Company or any affiliate are limited to 10% of Synovus Bank’s capital and surplus, and all such transactions between Synovus Bank and the Company and all of its nonbank affiliates combined are limited to 20% of Synovus Bank’s capital and surplus. Loans and other extensions of credit from Synovus Bank to the Company or any affiliate generally are required to be secured by eligible collateral in specified amounts. In

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addition, any transaction between Synovus Bank and the Company or any affiliate are required to be on an arm’s length basis. Federal banking laws also place similar restrictions on certain extensions of credit by insured banks, such as Synovus Bank, to their directors, executive officers and principal shareholders.
Reserves
Federal Reserve rules require depository institutions, such as Synovus Bank, to maintain reserves against their transaction accounts, primarily NOW and regular checking accounts. For 2019, the first $16.3 million of covered balances are exempt from these reserve requirements, aggregate balances between $16.3 million and $124.2 million are subject to a 3% reserve requirement, and aggregate balances above $124.2 million are subject to a reserve requirement of $3,237,000 plus 10% of the amount over $124.2 million. These reserve requirements are subject to annual adjustment by the Federal Reserve.
FDIC Insurance Assessments and Depositor Preference
Synovus Bank’s deposits are insured by the FDIC’s DIF up to the limits under applicable law, which currently are set at $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category. Synovus Bank is subject to FDIC assessments for its deposit insurance. The FDIC calculates quarterly deposit insurance assessments based on an institution’s average total consolidated assets less its average tangible equity, and applies one of four risk categories determined by reference to its capital levels, supervisory ratings, and certain other factors. The assessment rate schedule can change from time to time, at the discretion of the FDIC, subject to certain limits. On September 30, 2018, the FDIC announced that the designated reserve ratio of the DIF reached 1.36%, exceeding the required 1.35%, two years ahead of the deadline imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act, and therefore the FDIC has eliminated a surcharge on larger banks, such as Synovus Bank. In addition, in 2018 Synovus Bank was subject to quarterly assessments by the FDIC to pay interest on Financing Corporation bonds. For 2018, Synovus Bank's FDIC insurance expense totaled $22.3 million including its Financing Corporation assessments and the DIF surcharge that was in place until September 30, 2018.
Insurance of deposits may be terminated by the FDIC upon a finding that the institution has engaged in unsafe and unsound practices, is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations, or has violated any applicable law, regulation, rule, order or condition imposed by a bank’s federal regulatory agency. In addition, the Federal Deposit Insurance Act provides that, in the event of the liquidation or other resolution of an insured depository institution, the claims of depositors of the institution, including the claims of the FDIC as subrogee of insured depositors, and certain claims for administrative expenses of the FDIC as a receiver, will have priority over other general unsecured claims against the institution, including those of the parent bank holding company. See “Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Deposits” of this Report for further information.    
Standards for Safety and Soundness
The Federal Deposit Insurance Act requires the federal bank regulatory agencies to prescribe, by regulation or guideline, operational and managerial standards for all insured depository institutions relating to: (1) internal controls; (2) information systems and audit systems; (3) loan documentation; (4) credit underwriting; (5) interest rate risk exposure; and (6) asset quality. The federal banking agencies have adopted regulations and Interagency Guidelines Establishing Standards for Safety and Soundness to implement these required standards. These guidelines set forth the safety and soundness standards used to identify and address problems at insured depository institutions before capital becomes impaired. Under the regulations, if a regulator determines that a bank fails to meet any standards prescribed by the guidelines, the regulator may require the bank to submit an acceptable plan to achieve compliance, consistent with deadlines for the submission and review of such safety and soundness compliance plans.
Anti-Money Laundering
The International Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-Terrorism Funding Act of 2001 specifies “know your customer” requirements that obligate financial institutions to take actions to verify the identity of the account holders in connection with opening an account at any U.S. financial institution. Banking regulators will consider compliance with the Act’s money laundering provisions in acting upon acquisition and merger proposals. Bank regulators routinely examine institutions for compliance with these obligations and have been active in imposing cease and desist and other regulatory orders and money penalty sanctions against institutions found to be violating these obligations. Sanctions for violations of the Act can be imposed in an amount equal to twice the sum involved in the violating transaction, up to $1 million. Under the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (“USA PATRIOT”) Act of 2001, financial institutions are subject to prohibitions against specified financial transactions and account relationships as well as enhanced due diligence and “know your customer” standards in their dealings with foreign financial institutions and foreign customers. The USA PATRIOT Act, and its implementing regulations adopted by the FinCen, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, requires financial institutions to establish anti-money laundering programs with minimum standards that include:
the development of internal policies, procedures, and controls;
the designation of a compliance officer;

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an ongoing employee training program; and
an independent audit function to test the programs.
Bank regulators routinely examine institutions for compliance with these anti-money laundering obligations and recently have been active in imposing “cease and desist” and other regulatory orders and money penalty sanctions against institutions found to be in violation of these requirements. In addition, FinCEN issued rules that became effective on May 11, 2018, that require, subject to certain exclusions and exemptions, covered financial institutions to identify and verify the identity of beneficial owners of legal entity customers.
Economic Sanctions
The OFAC is responsible for helping to ensure that U.S. entities do not engage in transactions with certain prohibited parties, as defined by various Executive Orders and acts of Congress. OFAC publishes, and routinely updates, lists of names of persons and organizations suspected of aiding, harboring or engaging in terrorist acts, including the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. If we find a name on any transaction, account or wire transfer that is on an OFAC list, we must undertake certain specified activities, which could include blocking or freezing the account or transaction requested, and we must notify the appropriate authorities.
Concentrations in Lending
During 2006, the federal bank regulatory agencies released guidance on “Concentrations in Commercial Real Estate Lending” (the “Guidance”) and advised financial institutions of the risks posed by CRE lending concentrations. The Guidance requires that appropriate processes be in place to identify, monitor and control risks associated with real estate lending concentrations. Higher allowances for loan losses and capital levels may also be required. The Guidance is triggered when CRE loan concentrations exceed either:
Total reported loans for construction, land development, and other land of 100% or more of a bank’s total risk-based capital; or
Total reported loans secured by multifamily and nonfarm nonresidential properties and loans for construction, land development, and other land of 300% or more of a bank’s total risk-based capital.
The Guidance also applies when a bank has a sharp increase in CRE loans or has significant concentrations of CRE secured by a particular property type. We have always had exposures to loans secured by CRE due to the nature of our markets and the loan needs of both retail and commercial customers. We believe our long term experience in CRE lending, underwriting policies, internal controls, and other policies currently in place, as well as our loan and credit monitoring and administration procedures, are generally appropriate to managing our concentrations as required under the Guidance.
Debit Interchange Fees
Interchange fees, or "swipe" fees, are fees that merchants pay to credit card companies and card-issuing banks such as Synovus Bank for processing electronic payment transactions on their behalf. The maximum permissible interchange fee that a non-exempt issuer may receive for an electronic debit transaction is the sum of 21 cents per transaction and 5 basis points multiplied by the value of the transaction, subject to an upward adjustment of 1 cent if an issuer certifies that it has implemented policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve the fraud-prevention standards set forth by the Federal Reserve. In addition, card issuers and networks are prohibited from entering into arrangements requiring that debit card transactions be processed on a single network or only two affiliated networks, and allows merchants to determine transaction routing.
Community Reinvestment Act
Synovus Bank is subject to the provisions of the CRA, which imposes a continuing and affirmative obligation, consistent with their safe and sound operation, to help meet the credit needs of entire communities where the bank accepts deposits, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The Federal Reserve’s assessment of Synovus Bank’s CRA record is made available to the public. Further, a less than satisfactory CRA rating will slow, if not preclude, expansion of banking activities and prevent a company from becoming or remaining a financial holding company. Following the enactment of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLB”), CRA agreements with private parties must be disclosed and annual CRA reports must be made to a bank’s primary federal regulator. A bank holding company will not be permitted to become or remain a financial holding company and no new activities authorized under GLB may be commenced by a holding company or by a bank financial subsidiary if any of its bank subsidiaries received less than a “satisfactory” CRA rating in its latest CRA examination. Federal CRA regulations require, among other things, that evidence of discrimination against applicants on a prohibited basis, and illegal or abusive lending practices be considered in the CRA evaluation. On April 3, 2018, the Department of the Treasury published recommendations for amending the regulations implementing the CRA; on August 28, 2018, the OCC issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking seeking industry comment on how the CRA might be modernized. Synovus Bank has a rating of “Satisfactory” in its most recent CRA evaluation.

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Privacy, Credit Reporting, and Data Security
The GLB generally prohibits disclosure of consumer information to non-affiliated third parties unless the consumer has been given the opportunity to object and has not objected to such disclosure. Financial institutions are further required to disclose their privacy policies to customers annually. Financial institutions, however, will be required to comply with state law if it is more protective of consumer privacy than the GLB. The GLB also directed federal regulators to prescribe standards for the security of consumer information. Synovus Bank is subject to such standards, as well as standards for notifying customers in the event of a security breach. Under federal law, Synovus Bank must disclose its privacy policy to consumers, permit customers to opt out of having nonpublic customer information disclosed to third parties in certain circumstances, and allow customers to opt out of receiving marketing solicitations based on information about the customer received from another subsidiary. States may adopt more extensive privacy protections. Synovus Bank utilizes credit bureau data in underwriting activities. Use of such data is regulated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Regulation V on a uniform, nationwide basis, including credit reporting, prescreening, and sharing of information between affiliates and the use of credit data. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, which amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act, permits states to enact identity theft laws that are not inconsistent with the conduct required by the provisions of that Act. We are also required to have an information security program to safeguard the confidentiality and security of customer information and to ensure proper disposal. Customers must be notified when unauthorized disclosure involves sensitive customer information that may be misused.
Anti-Tying Restrictions
In general, a bank may not extend credit, lease, sell property, or furnish any services or fix or vary the consideration for them on the condition that (1) the customer obtain or provide some additional credit, property, or services from or to the bank or bank holding company or their subsidiaries or (2) the customer not obtain some other credit, property, or services from a competitor, except to the extent reasonable conditions are imposed to assure the soundness of the credit extended. A bank may, however, offer combined-balance products and may otherwise offer more favorable terms if a customer obtains two or more traditional bank products. The law also expressly permits banks to engage in other forms of tying and authorizes the Federal Reserve Board to grant additional exceptions by regulation or order. Also, certain foreign transactions are exempt from the general rule.
Consumer Regulation
Activities of Synovus Bank are subject to a variety of statutes and regulations designed to protect consumers. These laws and regulations include, among numerous other things, provisions that:
limit the interest and other charges collected or contracted for by Synovus Bank, including rules respecting the terms of credit cards and of debit card overdrafts;
govern Synovus Bank’s disclosures of credit terms to consumer borrowers;
require Synovus Bank to provide information to enable the public and public officials to determine whether it is fulfilling its obligation to help meet the housing needs of the community it serves;
prohibit Synovus Bank from discriminating on the basis of race, creed or other prohibited factors when it makes decisions to extend credit;
govern the manner in which Synovus Bank may collect consumer debts; and
prohibit unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices in the provision of consumer financial products and services.
Mortgage Regulation
The CFPB adopted a rule that implements the ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act (the “ATR/QM rule”), which requires lenders to consider, among other things, income, employment status, assets, payment amounts, and credit history before approving a mortgage, and provides a compliance “safe harbor” for lenders that issue certain “qualified mortgages.” The ATR/QM rule defines a “qualified mortgage” to have certain specified characteristics, and generally prohibit loans with negative amortization, interest-only payments, balloon payments, or terms exceeding 30 years from being qualified mortgages. The rule also establishes general underwriting criteria for qualified mortgages, including that monthly payments be calculated based on the highest payment that will apply in the first five years of the loan and that the borrower have a total debt-to-income ratio that is less than or equal to 43%. While “qualified mortgages” will generally be afforded safe harbor status, a rebuttable presumption of compliance with the ability-to-repay requirements will attach to “qualified mortgages” that are “higher priced mortgages” (which are generally subprime loans). In addition, the securitizer of asset-backed securities must retain not less than 5% of the credit risk of the assets collateralizing the asset-backed securities, unless subject to an exemption for asset-backed securities that are collateralized exclusively by residential mortgages that qualify as “qualified residential mortgages.”
The CFPB has also issued rules to implement requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act pertaining to mortgage loan origination (including with respect to loan originator compensation and loan originator qualifications) as well as integrated mortgage disclosure rules. In addition, the CFPB has issued rules that require servicers to comply with new standards and practices with regard to: error correction; information disclosure; force-placement of insurance; information management policies and procedures; requiring

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information about mortgage loss mitigation options be provided to delinquent borrowers; providing delinquent borrowers access to servicer personnel with continuity of contact about the borrower’s mortgage loan account; and evaluating borrowers’ applications for available loss mitigation options. These rules also address initial rate adjustment notices for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), periodic statements for residential mortgage loans, and prompt crediting of mortgage payments and response to requests for payoff amounts.
Non-Discrimination Policies
Synovus Bank is also subject to, among other things, the provisions of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (the “ECOA”) and the Fair Housing Act (the “FHA”), both of which prohibit discrimination based on race or color, religion, national origin, sex, and familial status in any aspect of a consumer or commercial credit or residential real estate transaction. The Department of Justice (the “DOJ”), and the federal bank regulatory agencies have issued an Interagency Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending that provides guidance to financial institutions in determining whether discrimination exists, how the agencies will respond to lending discrimination, and what steps lenders might take to prevent discriminatory lending practices. The DOJ has increased its efforts to prosecute what it regards as violations of the ECOA and FHA.
Available Information
Our website address is www.synovus.com. We file with or furnish to the SEC Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and annual reports to shareholders, and, from time to time, amendments to these documents and other documents called for by the SEC. The reports and other documents filed with or furnished to the SEC are available to investors on or through our website at investor.synovus.com under the heading “Financial Information” and then under “SEC Filings.” These reports are available on our website free of charge as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file them with the SEC.
In addition, the SEC maintains an Internet website that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers, such as Synovus, that file electronically with the SEC. The address of that website is www.sec.gov.
We have adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics for our directors, officers and employees and have also adopted Corporate Governance Guidelines. Our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, Corporate Governance Guidelines and the charters of our board committees, as well as information on how to contact our Board of Directors, are available in the Corporate Governance Section of our website at investor.synovus.com/govdocs. We will post any waivers of our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics granted to our directors or executive officers on our website at investor.synovus.com.
We include our website addresses throughout this filing only as textual references. The information contained on our website is not incorporated in this document by reference.


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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

This section highlights the material risks that we currently face. Please be aware that these risks may change over time and other risks may prove to be important in the future. New risks may emerge at any time, and we cannot predict such risks or estimate the extent to which they may affect our business, financial condition or results of operations or the trading price of our securities.

Strategic Risk

Competition in the financial services industry may adversely affect our future earnings and growth.

We operate in a highly competitive environment and our profitability and our future growth depends on our ability to compete successfully. We face pricing competition for loans and deposits and, in order for us to compete for borrowers and depositors, we may be required to offer loans and deposits on terms less favorable to us, including lower rates on our loans and higher rates on our deposits. We also compete for customers based on such factors as convenience, product lines, accessibility of service and service capabilities. Certain of our competitors are larger and have more resources than we do, enabling them to be more aggressive than us in competing for loans and deposits and investing in new products, technology and services. In addition, the ability of non-bank competitors to provide services previously limited to commercial banks has intensified the competition we face. These non-bank competitors are not subject to the same extensive regulations that govern us and, therefore, may be able to operate with greater flexibility and lower cost structures. This significant competition in making loans and attracting and retaining deposits as well as in providing other financial services may impact our future earnings and growth.

Furthermore, the financial services industry could become even more competitive as a result of legislative, regulatory and technological changes and continued consolidation. Technology has lowered barriers to entry and made it possible for non-banks and smaller banks to offer products and services traditionally provided by larger banks. Additionally, due to their size, many competitors may be able to achieve economies of scale and, as a result, may offer a broader range of products and services than we do, as well as better pricing for those products and services.

We may not realize the expected benefits from our efficiency and growth initiatives, which could negatively impact our future profitability.

In the current competitive banking environment, operating costs must reduce or grow much slower than overall revenue growth. In addition, we must continue to implement strategies to grow our loan portfolio and increase non-interest income in order to realize continued earnings growth and to remain competitive with the other banks in the markets we serve. We are continuously implementing strategic efficiency and growth initiatives for expense reduction, increased efficiencies and long-term growth. While we have realized cost-savings and growth as a result of these initiatives, there is no guarantee that these initiatives will be successful in controlling expenses and growing revenues in the future. In addition, while expense control continues to be a major focus for us, management also expects to continue to make strategic investments in technology and talent that are expected to improve our customer experience and support future growth which will require an increase in our expenditures. There can be no assurance that we will ultimately realize the anticipated benefits of our expense reduction and growth strategies, which may impair our earnings growth.

We may fail to realize all of the anticipated benefits of the Merger, or those benefits may take longer to realize than expected. We may also encounter significant difficulties in integrating FCB.

Our ability to realize the anticipated benefits of the Merger will depend, to a large extent, on our ability to successfully integrate the acquired businesses. The integration and combination of the acquired businesses is a complex, costly and time-consuming process. As a result, we will be required to devote significant management attention and resources to integrating their business practices and operations with ours. The integration process may disrupt our business and the business of FCB and, if implemented ineffectively, could limit the full realization of the anticipated benefits of the acquisition. The failure to meet the challenges involved in integrating the acquired businesses and to realize the anticipated benefits of the Merger could cause an interruption of, or a loss of momentum in, our business activities or those of FCB and could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, the overall integration of the businesses may result in material unanticipated problems, expenses, liabilities, loss of customers and diversion of our management’s and employees’ attention. The challenges of combining the operations of the companies include, among others:

difficulties in achieving anticipated cost savings, synergies, business opportunities and growth prospects from the acquisition;
difficulties in the integration of operations and systems;
difficulties in the assimilation of employees;

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difficulties in managing the expanded operations of a larger and more complex company;
challenges in keeping existing customers and obtaining new customers;
challenges in attracting and retaining key personnel, including personnel that are considered key to the future success of FCB’s businesses;
challenges related to FCB's credit quality and credit risk; and
challenges in keeping key business relationships in place.

Many of these factors will be outside of our control and any one of them could result in increased costs and liabilities, decreases in the amount of expected income and diversion of management’s time and energy, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition, even if the operations of FCB are integrated successfully with our business, the full benefits of the transaction may not be realized, including the synergies, cost savings, growth opportunities or earnings accretion that are expected. These benefits may not be achieved within the anticipated time frame, or at all, and additional unanticipated costs may be incurred in the integration of the businesses. Furthermore, FCB may have unknown or contingent liabilities that we would assume in the acquisition and that were not discovered during the course of our due diligence. These liabilities could include exposure to unexpected asset quality problems, compliance and regulatory violations, key employee and client retention problems and other problems that could result in significant costs to us.

All of these factors could cause dilution to our earnings per share, decrease or delay the expected accretive effect of the transaction, negatively impact the price of our common stock, or have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The implementation of other new lines of business or new products and services may subject us to additional risk.

We continuously evaluate our service offerings and may implement new lines of business or offer new products and services within existing lines of business in the future. There are substantial risks and uncertainties associated with these efforts.  In developing and marketing new lines of business and/or new products and services, we undergo a new product process to assess the risks of the initiative, and invest significant time and resources to build internal controls, policies and procedures to mitigate those risks, including hiring experienced management to oversee the implementation of the initiative.  Initial timetables for the introduction and development of new lines of business and/or new products or services may not be achieved and price and profitability targets may not prove feasible. External factors, such as compliance with regulations, competitive alternatives, and shifting market preferences, may also impact the successful implementation of a new line of business and/or a new product or service. Furthermore, any new line of business and/or new product or service could require the establishment of new key and other controls and have a significant impact on our existing system of internal controls. Failure to successfully manage these risks in the development and implementation of new lines of business and/or new products or services could have a material adverse effect on our business and, in turn, our financial condition and results of operations.

We may pursue attractive bank and non-bank acquisition opportunities as they arise. However, even if we identify attractive acquisition opportunities, we may not be able to complete such acquisitions on favorable terms or realize the anticipated benefits from such acquisitions.

While we continue to focus on organic growth opportunities and the integration of FCB, we anticipate continuing to evaluate both bank and non-bank acquisition opportunities that arise in our core markets and beyond. The number of financial institutions headquartered in Georgia, Florida, the Southeastern United States, and across the country continues to decline through merger and other activity. We expect that other banking and financial companies, many of which have significantly greater resources, will compete with us to acquire financial services businesses. This competition, as the number of appropriate merger targets decreases, could increase prices for potential acquisitions which could reduce our potential returns, and reduce the attractiveness of these opportunities to us. As a result, we may be unable to identify additional bank and non-bank acquisition opportunities that meet our acquisition criteria. Furthermore, even if we do identify such acquisition opportunities, we may be unable to complete such acquisitions on favorable terms, if at all, or realize the anticipated benefits from such acquisitions. In addition, any acquisition could be dilutive to our earnings and shareholders’ equity per share of our common stock.

Also, acquisitions are subject to various regulatory approvals, including the approval of the FRB and the GA DBF. If we fail to receive the appropriate regulatory approvals, we will not be able to consummate an acquisition that we believe is in our best interests. Among other things, our regulators consider our capital, liquidity, profitability, regulatory compliance, including with respect to AML obligations, consumer protection laws and CRA obligations and levels of goodwill and intangibles when considering acquisition and expansion proposals. We cannot be certain when or if, or on what terms and conditions, any required regulatory approvals would be granted, if at all.

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Operational Risk

If our enterprise risk management framework is not effective at mitigating risk and loss to us, we could suffer unexpected losses and our results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

Our enterprise risk management framework seeks to achieve an appropriate balance between risk and return, which is critical to optimizing shareholder value. We have established processes and procedures intended to identify, measure, monitor, report and analyze the types of risk to which we are subject, including strategic, market, credit, liquidity, operational, regulatory compliance, litigation and reputational. However, as with any risk management framework, there are inherent limitations to our risk management strategies as there may exist, or develop in the future, risks that we have not appropriately anticipated or identified. For example, the financial and credit crisis and resulting regulatory reform highlighted both the importance and some of the limitations of managing unanticipated risks. If our risk management framework proves ineffective, we could suffer unexpected losses and our business and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

The financial services market is undergoing rapid technological changes, and if we are unable to stay current with those changes, we will not be able to effectively compete.

The financial services market, including banking services, is undergoing rapid changes with frequent introductions of new technology-driven products and services. Our future success will depend, in part, on our ability to keep pace with these technological changes and to use technology to satisfy and grow customer demand for our products and services and to create additional efficiencies in our operations. We expect that we will need to make substantial investments in our technology and information systems to compete effectively and to stay current with technological changes. Some of our competitors have substantially greater resources to invest in technological improvements and will be able to invest more heavily in developing and adopting new technologies, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage. Furthermore, companies may increasingly utilize artificial intelligence to deliver banking products and services, which could become more competitive and efficient than traditional products and services. We may not be able to effectively implement new technology-driven products and services or be successful in marketing these products and services to our customers. As a result, our ability to effectively compete to retain or acquire new business may be impaired, and our business, financial condition or results of operations may be adversely affected.

We may not be able to successfully implement current or future information technology system enhancements and operational initiatives, which could adversely affect our business operations and profitability.

We continue to invest significant resources in information technology system enhancements and operational initiatives in order to provide functionality and security at an appropriate level, to improve our operating efficiency and to streamline our customer experience. We may not be able to successfully implement and integrate such system enhancements and initiatives, which could adversely impact the ability to comply with a number of legal and regulatory requirements, which could result in sanctions from regulatory authorities. In addition, these projects could have higher than expected costs and/or result in operating inefficiencies, which could increase the costs associated with the implementation as well as ongoing operations. Failure to properly utilize system enhancements that are implemented in the future could result in impairment charges that adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations, could result in significant costs to remediate or replace the defective components and could impact our ability to compete. In addition, we may incur significant training, licensing, maintenance, consulting and amortization expenses during and after implementation, and any such costs may continue for an extended period of time. As such, we cannot guarantee that the anticipated long-term benefits of these system enhancements and operational initiatives will be realized.

We may not be able to attract and retain key employees, which may adversely impact our ability to successfully execute our growth strategies.

Our financial success depends upon our ability to attract and retain highly motivated, well-qualified personnel that we rely on to execute on our strategy and initiatives, including our senior management team. We face significant competition in the recruitment of qualified employees from financial institutions and others. Moreover, as the banking industry transforms due to technological innovation, we must continually assess and manage how our talent needs change over time. In addition, our future growth and the continued diversification of our loan portfolio depends, in part, on our ability to attract and retain the right mix of well-qualified employees. If we are unable to attract and retain qualified employees, our ability to execute our business strategies may suffer and we may be required to substantially increase our overall compensation or benefits to attract and retain such employees. Furthermore, we generally do not have employment agreements in place with our management team and key team members and cannot guarantee that our management team and other key team members will remain with us. The unexpected loss of services of one or more of our key personnel, especially members of our senior management team, could have a material adverse

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impact on the business because we would lose their skills, knowledge of the market, years of industry experience and may have difficulty promptly finding qualified replacement personnel.

In 2016 federal agencies proposed regulations which might significantly change the regulation of incentive compensation programs at financial institutions. The proposal would create four tiers of institutions based on asset size. Institutions in the top two tiers (over $50 billion in assets) would be subject to rules much more detailed and proscriptive than are currently in effect. While our total assets are currently below $50 billion, they could exceed this amount in future periods. As of December 31, 2018, these rules have not been implemented nor withdrawn. These regulations may significantly restrict the amount, form, and context in which we pay incentive compensation and may put us at a competitive disadvantage compared to non-financial institutions in terms of attracting and retaining key employees.

We rely extensively on information technology systems to operate our business and an interruption or security breach may disrupt our business operations, result in reputational harm and have an adverse effect on our operations.

As a large financial institution, we rely extensively on our information technology systems to operate our business, including to process, record and monitor a large number of customer transactions on a continuous basis. As customer, public and regulatory expectations regarding operational and information security have increased, our operational systems and infrastructure must continue to be safeguarded and monitored for potential failures, disruptions and breakdowns. Our business, financial, accounting, data processing systems or other operating systems and facilities may stop operating properly or become disabled or damaged as a result of a number of factors including events that are wholly or partially beyond our control. For example, there could be sudden increases in customer transaction volume; electrical or telecommunications outages; natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes; disease pandemics; events arising from local or larger scale political or social matters, including terrorist acts; and, as described below, cyber-attacks.

We have policies, procedures and systems designed to prevent or limit the effect of possible failures, interruptions or breaches in security of information systems and business continuity programs designed to provide services in the case of an event resulting in material disruptions of our operating systems. We regularly seek to test the effectiveness of and enhance these policies, procedures and systems. However, there is no guarantee that these safeguards or programs will address all of the threats that continue to evolve.

Disruptions or failures in the physical infrastructure or operating systems that support our businesses and customers, or cyber-attacks or security breaches of the networks, systems, or devices that our customers use to access our products and services, could result in customer attrition, regulatory and other fines, penalties or intervention, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs and/or additional compliance costs, any of which could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition.

We face significant cyber and data security risk that could result in the disclosure of confidential information, adversely affect our business or reputation and expose us to significant liabilities.

As a large financial institution, we are under continuous threat of loss due to the velocity and sophistication of cyber-attacks. This risk continues to increase and attack methods continue to evolve in sophistication, velocity, and frequency and can occur from a variety of sources, such as foreign governments, hacktivists, or other well-financed entities, and may originate from less regulated and remote areas of the world. We continually review the security of our IT systems and make the necessary investments to improve the resiliency of our systems and their security from attack. Nonetheless, there remains the risk that we may be materially harmed by a cyber-attack or information security breach. Further, there is no guarantee that our response to any cyber-attack or system interruption, breach or failure will be effective to mitigate and remediate the issues resulting from such an event, including the costs, reputational harm and litigation challenges that we may face as result.

Two of the most significant cyber-attack risks that we face are e-fraud and loss of sensitive customer data. Loss from e-fraud occurs when cybercriminals breach and extract funds directly from customer or our accounts. Any loss of sensitive customer data that results from attempts to breach our systems, such as account numbers and social security numbers, would present significant reputational, legal and/or regulatory costs to us. Our risk and exposure to these matters remains heightened because of the evolving nature and complexity of these threats from cybercriminals and hackers, our plans to continue to provide internet banking and mobile banking channels, and our plans to develop additional remote connectivity solutions to serve our customers. While we have not experienced any material losses relating to cyber-attacks or other information security breaches to date, we have been the subject of attempted hacking and cyber-attacks and there can be no assurance that we will not suffer such losses in the future.

The occurrence of any cyber-attack or information security breach could result in material adverse consequences to us including damage to our reputation and the loss of customers. We also could face litigation or additional regulatory scrutiny. Litigation or regulatory actions in turn could lead to significant liability or other sanctions, including fines and penalties or reimbursement to

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customers adversely affected by a security breach. Even if we do not suffer any material adverse consequences as a result of events affecting us directly, successful attacks or systems failures at other large financial institutions could lead to a general loss of customer confidence in financial institutions including us.

Our ability to maintain our reputation is critical to the success of our business, and the failure to do so may materially adversely affect our performance.

Our reputation is one of the most valuable components of our business. As such, we strive to conduct our business in a manner that enhances our reputation. This is done, in part, by recruiting, hiring, and retaining and providing growth opportunities for employees who share our core values of being an integral part of the communities we serve, delivering superior service to our customers, caring about our customers and team members and investing in our information technology and other systems. If our reputation is negatively affected by the actions of our employees or otherwise, including as a result of operational errors, clerical or record-keeping errors or those resulting from faulty or disabled computer or telecommunications systems or a successful cyberattack against us or other unauthorized release or loss of customer information, our reputation, business and our operating results may be materially adversely affected.

We rely on other companies to provide key components of our business infrastructure.

Third parties provide key components of our business operations such as data processing, recording and monitoring transactions, online banking interfaces and services, Internet connections and network access. We have selected these third-party vendors carefully and have conducted the due diligence consistent with regulatory guidance and best practices. While we have ongoing programs to review third party vendors and assess risk, we do not control their actions. Any problems caused by these third parties, including those resulting from disruptions in communication services provided by a vendor, failure of a vendor to handle current or higher volumes, cyber-attacks and security breaches at a vendor, failure of a vendor to provide services for any reason or poor performance of services, could adversely affect our ability to deliver products and services to our customers and otherwise conduct our business. Financial or operational difficulties of a third-party vendor could also hurt our operations if those difficulties interfere with the vendor's ability to serve us. Furthermore, our vendors could also be sources of operational and information security risk to us, including from breakdowns or failures of their own systems or capacity constraints. Replacing these third-party vendors could also create significant delay and expense. Accordingly, use of such third parties creates an unavoidable inherent risk to our business operations.

As an issuer of credit and debit cards we are exposed to losses in the event that holders of our cards experience fraud on their card accounts.

Our customers regularly use Synovus-issued credit and debit cards to pay for transactions with retailers and other businesses. There is the risk of data security breaches at these retailers and other businesses that could result in the misappropriation of our customers’ credit and debit card information. When our customers use Synovus-issued cards to make purchases from those businesses, card account information is provided to the business. If the business’s systems that process or store card account information are subject to a data security breach, holders of our cards who have made purchases from that business may experience fraud on their card accounts. While we expect that the transition to EMV-enabled credit and debit cards will reduce the likelihood of fraudulent transactions and the associated costs, we may nonetheless suffer losses associated with reimbursing our customers for fraudulent transactions on customers’ card accounts, as well as for other costs related to data security compromise events, such as replacing cards associated with compromised card accounts. In addition, we provide card transaction processing services to some merchant customers under agreements we have with payment networks such as Visa and MasterCard. Under these agreements, we may be responsible for certain losses and penalties if one of our merchant customers suffers a data security breach.

In the last several years, a number of large retailers suffered substantial data security breaches compromising millions of credit and debit card accounts. To date, our losses and costs related to these breaches have not been material, but other similar events in the future could be more significant to us.

Our independent sales organization relationships are complex and may expose us to losses.

We maintain relationships with a number of ISOs, which are organizations that are not Visa or MasterCard member banks, but which are associated with us as a member bank. These ISOs generally act as intermediaries for third party companies that want to develop the capacity to accept payment cards, and ISO activities include, among other things, acquiring and issuing functions, soliciting merchants and other customers, soliciting cardholders, underwriting and monitoring, arranging for terminal leases or purchases, account and transaction processing, and customer service. Our ISO relationships include (but are not limited to) our relationships with MPS where we process credit and debit card transactions on behalf of various merchants.


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Because our ISO program entails a host of complex business relationships with third parties, we face risks related to our oversight and supervision of the program, as well as to the reputation and financial viability of the ISOs with which we do business. Our oversight and supervision responsibilities include, but are not limited to, monitoring of the ISO program and relationships, compliance, portfolio awareness, reputational monitoring, and risk monitoring. Any failure by us to appropriately oversee and supervise our ISO program could damage our reputation, result in regulatory or compliance issues, result in third party litigation, and cause financial losses to us. Further, our ISO program is highly dependent upon the activities and financial viability of our ISO counter-parties, and any negative developments at the ISOs - reputational, compliance-related, financial, or otherwise - may present financial losses and other risk to us.

The costs and effects of litigation, investigations or similar matters involving us or other financial institutions or counterparties, or adverse facts and developments related thereto, could materially affect our business, operating results and financial condition.

We may be involved from time to time in a variety of litigation, investigations, inquiries or similar matters arising out of our business, including those described in “Part I - Item 3. Legal Proceedings” and "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 15 - Commitments and Contingencies" of this Report. We manage those risks through internal controls, personnel training, insurance, litigation management, our compliance and ethics processes, and other means. However, the commencement, outcome, and magnitude of litigation cannot be predicted or controlled with any certainty. We establish reserves for legal claims when payments associated with the claims become probable and the losses can be reasonably estimated. We may still incur legal costs for a matter even if we have not established a reserve. In addition, the actual cost of resolving a legal claim may be substantially higher than any amounts reserved for that matter. For those legal matters where the amounts associated with the claims are not probable and the costs cannot be reasonably estimated, Synovus estimates a range of reasonably possible losses. As of December 31, 2018, Synovus' management currently estimates the aggregate range of reasonably possible losses resulting from our outstanding litigation, including, without limitation, the matters described in this Report, is from zero to $5 million in excess of the amounts accrued, if any, related to those matters. This estimated aggregate range is based upon information currently available to us, and the actual losses could prove to be higher. As there are further developments in these legal matters, we will reassess these matters and the estimated range of reasonably possible losses may change as a result of this assessment. In addition, in the future, we may need to record additional litigation reserves with respect to these matters. Further, regardless of how these matters proceed, it could divert our management's attention and other resources away from our business.

Our insurance may not cover all claims that may be asserted against it and indemnification rights to which we are entitled may not be honored, and any claims asserted against us, regardless of merit or eventual outcome, may harm our reputation. Should the ultimate judgments or settlements in any litigation or investigation significantly exceed our insurance coverage, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, premiums for insurance covering the financial and banking sectors are rising. We may not be able to obtain appropriate types or levels of insurance in the future, nor may we be able to obtain adequate replacement policies with acceptable terms or at historic rates, if at all.

Credit and Liquidity Risk

Our allowance for loan losses may not cover actual losses, and we may be required to materially increase our allowance, which may adversely affect our capital, financial condition and results of operations.

We derive the most significant portion of our revenues from our lending activities. When we lend money, commit to lend money or enter into a letter of credit or other contract with a counterparty, we incur credit risk, which is the risk of losses if our borrowers do not repay their loans or our counterparties fail to perform according to the terms of their contracts. We estimate and maintain an allowance for loan losses, which is a reserve established through a provision for loan losses charged to expenses, representing management's best estimate of probable credit losses that have been incurred within the existing portfolio of loans, as described under "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 1 - Summary of Significant Accounting Policies" and “Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Critical Accounting Policies - Allowance for Loan Losses." The allowance, in the judgment of management, is established to reserve for estimated loan losses and risks inherent in the loan portfolio. The determination of the appropriate level of the allowance for loan losses inherently involves a high degree of subjectivity and requires us to make significant estimates of current credit risks using existing qualitative and quantitative information, all of which may undergo material changes. Changes in economic conditions affecting borrowers, new information regarding existing loans, identification of additional problem loans, changes in assumptions regarding a borrower's ability to pay, changes in collateral values, risk ratings, and other factors, both within and outside of our control, may cause the allowance for loan losses to become inadequate and require an increase in the provision for loan losses. In addition, the FASB has adopted new accounting standards for the recognition and measurement of credit losses for loans and certain other instruments. The new standards will be effective beginning January 1, 2020. While we are still evaluating the impact of these new accounting standards, we expect that the allowance for loan losses will be higher under the new standard and as such,

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could have an impact on our results of operations. For a discussion of changes in these accounting standards and regulatory capital implications, see “Part 1 - Item 1. Business - Supervision, Regulation, and Other Factors - Capital Requirements.”

Because the risk rating of the loans is dependent on certain subjective information and is subject to changes in the borrower's credit risk profile, evolving local market conditions and other factors, it can be difficult for us to predict the effects that those factors will have on the classifications assigned to the loan portfolio, and thus difficult to anticipate the velocity or volume of the migration of loans through the classification process and effect on the level of the allowance for loan losses. Accordingly, we monitor our credit quality and our reserve requirements and use that as a basis for capital planning and other purposes. See "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Liquidity" and "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Capital Resources" of this Report for further information.

Various regulatory agencies, as an integral part of their examination procedures, periodically review the allowance. Based on their judgments about information available to them at the time of their examination, such agencies may require us to recognize additions to the allowance or additional loan charge offs. An increase in the allowance for loan losses would result in a decrease in net income and capital, and could have a material adverse effect on our capital, financial condition and results of operations.

Changes in interest rates may have an adverse effect on our net interest income.

Net interest income, which is the difference between the interest income that we earn on interest-earning assets and the interest expense that we pay on interest-bearing liabilities, is a major component of our income and our primary source of revenue from our operations. A narrowing of interest rate spreads could adversely affect our earnings and financial condition. We cannot control or predict with certainty changes in interest rates. Regional and local economic conditions, competitive pressures and the policies of regulatory authorities, including monetary policies of the FRB, affect interest income and interest expense.

If interest rates were to increase it could have a negative impact on our business by reducing the amount of money our customers borrow or by adversely affecting their ability to repay outstanding loan balances that may increase due to adjustments in their variable rates. In addition, if interest rates were to increase, in order to compete for deposits in our primary market areas, we may have to offer more attractive interest rates to depositors, or pursue other sources of liquidity, such as wholesale funds. If interest rates were to decrease, our yield on our variable rate loans and on our new loans would decrease, reducing our net interest income. In addition, lower interest rates may reduce our realized yields on investment securities which would reduce our net interest income and cause downward pressure on net interest margin in future periods. A significant reduction in our net interest income could have a material adverse impact on our capital, financial condition and results of operations.

We have ongoing policies and procedures designed to manage the risks associated with changes in market interest rates and actively manage these risks through hedging and other risk mitigation strategies. However, if our assumptions are wrong or overall economic conditions are significantly different than anticipated, our risk mitigation techniques may be ineffective or costly.

Changes in the cost and availability of funding due to changes in the deposit market and credit market may adversely affect our capital resources, liquidity and financial results.

We may be unable to access historical and alternative sources of liquidity, including the capital markets, brokered deposits, and borrowings from the FHLB, which could adversely affect our overall liquidity. Liquidity represents the extent to which we have readily available sources of funding to meet the needs of our depositors, borrowers and creditors, to support asset growth, and to otherwise sustain our operations and the operations of our subsidiary bank. In managing our consolidated balance sheet, we depend on access to a variety of sources of funding to provide us with sufficient capital resources and liquidity to meet our commitments and business needs, and to accommodate the transaction and cash management needs of our customers. Sources of funding available to us, and upon which we rely as regular components of our liquidity and funding management strategy, include borrowings from the FHLB and brokered deposits. See "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Liquidity" and "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Capital Resources" of this Report for further information. We also have historically enjoyed a solid reputation in the capital markets and have been able to raise funds in the form of either short- or long-term borrowings or equity or debt issuances. If, due to market disruptions, perceptions about our credit ratings or other factors, we are unable to access the capital markets in the future, our capital resources and liquidity may be adversely affected.

In general, the amount, type and cost of our funding, including from other financial institutions, the capital markets and deposits, directly impacts our costs of operating our business and growing our assets and can therefore positively or negatively affect our financial results. A number of factors could make funding more difficult, more expensive or unavailable on any terms, including, but not limited to, a downgrade in our credit ratings, financial results, changes within our organization, specific events

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that adversely impact our reputation, disruptions in the capital markets, specific events that adversely impact the financial services industry, counterparty availability, changes affecting our assets, the corporate and regulatory structure, interest rate fluctuations, general economic conditions and the legal, regulatory, accounting and tax environments governing our funding transactions. Also, we compete for funding with other banks and similar companies, many of which are substantially larger, and have more capital and other resources than we do. In addition, as some of these competitors consolidate with other financial institutions, these advantages may increase. Competition from these institutions may increase the cost of funds.

In addition to bank level liquidity management, we must manage liquidity at the Parent Company for various needs including potential capital infusions into subsidiaries, the servicing of debt, the payment of dividends on our common stock and preferred stock and share repurchases. The primary source of liquidity for us consists of dividends from Synovus Bank which are governed by certain rules and regulations of our supervising agencies. During 2016, Synovus Bank made upstream cash dividends to the Parent Company totaling $325.0 million. During 2017, Synovus Bank and non-bank subsidiaries made cash distributions to the Parent Company totaling $451.0 million including cash dividends of $283.2 million. During 2018, Synovus Bank and non-bank subsidiaries made upstream cash distributions to the Parent Company totaling $260.0 million including cash dividends of 250.0 million. Synovus' ability to receive dividends from Synovus Bank in future periods will depend on a number of factors, including, without limitation, Synovus Bank's future profits, asset quality, liquidity and overall condition. In addition, GA DBF rules and related statutes contain additional restrictions on payments of dividends by Synovus Bank. In particular, the Georgia Financial Institutions Code contains restrictions on the ability of a Georgia bank to pay dividends other than from retained earnings and under other circumstances without the approval of the GA DBF. As a result of these restrictions, Synovus Bank may be required to seek approval from the GA DBF to pay dividends. See “Part I - Item 1A. Risk Factors - We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service all of our debt and repay maturing debt obligations” and "Part 1 - Item 1. Business - Supervision, Regulation, and Other Factors - Dividends" of this Report for further information. Synovus expects that it will receive additional dividends from Synovus Bank in 2019. If Synovus does not receive additional dividends from Synovus Bank in 2019 at the levels anticipated, its liquidity could be adversely affected and it may not be able to continue to execute its current capital plan to return capital to its shareholders. In addition to dividends from Synovus Bank, we have historically had access to a number of alternative sources of liquidity, including the capital markets, but there is no assurance that we will be able to obtain such liquidity on terms that are favorable to us, or at all. If our access to these traditional and alternative sources of liquidity is diminished or only available on unfavorable terms, then our overall liquidity and financial condition will be adversely affected.

Changes in our asset quality could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

Asset quality measures the performance of a borrower in repaying a loan, with interest, on time. While we believe we have benefited from relatively stable asset quality, there are elements of our loan portfolio that inherently present greater credit risk. While we believe that we manage asset quality through prudent underwriting practices and collection operations, it is possible that our asset quality could deteriorate, depending upon economic conditions and other factors.

If Synovus Bank is unable to grow its deposits, it may be subject to paying higher funding costs.

The total amount that we pay for funding costs is dependent, in part, on Synovus Bank’s ability to grow its deposits. If Synovus Bank is unable to sufficiently grow its deposits at competitive rates to meet liquidity needs, it may be subject to paying higher funding costs to meet these liquidity needs. Synovus Bank competes with banks and other financial services companies for deposits. If competitors raise the rates they pay on deposits, Synovus Bank’s funding costs may increase, either because Synovus Bank raises rates to avoid losing deposits or because Synovus Bank loses deposits and must rely on more expensive sources of funding. Higher funding costs reduce our net interest margin and net interest income. Synovus Bank’s customers could withdraw their deposits in favor of alternative investments, causing Synovus Bank to lose a lower cost source of funding. Checking and savings account balances and other forms of customer deposits may decrease when customers perceive alternative investments, such as the stock market, as providing a better risk/return tradeoff.

We could realize losses if we determine to sell non-performing assets and the proceeds we receive are lower than the carrying value of such assets.

Distressed asset sales have been a component of our strategy to further strengthen the balance sheet, improve asset quality, and enhance earnings. We could realize future losses if the proceeds we receive upon dispositions of non-performing assets are lower than the recorded carrying value of such assets, which could adversely affect our results of operations in future periods. Accordingly, we could realize an increased level of credit costs in any period during which we determine to dispose of an increased level of distressed assets. Further, although market conditions have improved significantly over the past decade, if market conditions experience another downturn, this could negatively impact our ability to dispose of distressed assets, and may result in higher credit losses on sales of distressed assets.


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We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service all of our debt and repay maturing debt obligations.

As of December 31, 2018, we and our consolidated subsidiaries had $1.66 billion of long-term debt outstanding. Our ability to make scheduled payments of principal and interest or to satisfy our obligations in respect of our debt, to refinance our debt or to fund capital expenditures will depend on our future financial and operating performance and our ability to maintain adequate liquidity. Prevailing economic conditions (including interest rates), and regulatory constraints, including, among other things, on distributions to us from our subsidiaries and required capital levels with respect to our subsidiary bank and financial subsidiaries, business and other factors, many of which are beyond our control, may also affect our ability to meet these needs. We may not be able to generate sufficient cash flows from operations, or obtain future borrowings in an amount sufficient to enable us to pay our debt, or to fund our other liquidity needs. We may need to refinance all or a portion of our debt on maturity, and we may not be able to refinance any of our debt when needed on commercially reasonable terms or at all. If our cash flow and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt obligations, we may be forced to reduce or delay investments in our business, sell assets, seek to obtain additional equity or debt financing or restructure our debt on terms that may not be favorable to us.

We may be unable to pay dividends on our common stock and Series D Preferred Stock.

Holders of our common stock and Series D Preferred Stock are only entitled to receive such dividends as our Board of Directors may declare out of funds legally available for such payments. Although we have historically paid a quarterly cash dividend to the holders of our common stock and Series D Preferred Stock, we are not legally required to do so. Further, the Federal Reserve could decide at any time that paying any dividends on our common stock or preferred stock could be an unsafe or unsound banking practice. The reduction or elimination of dividends paid on our common stock or preferred stock could adversely affect the market price of our common stock or preferred stock, as applicable. In addition, if we fail to pay dividends on our Series D Preferred Stock for six quarters, whether or not consecutive, the holders of the Series D Preferred Stock shall be entitled to certain rights to elect two directors to our Board of Directors.

For a discussion of current regulatory limits on our ability to pay dividends, see "Part 1 - Item 1. Business - Supervision, Regulation, and Other Factors - Dividends" and “Part I - Item 1A - Risk Factors - We may become subject to supervisory actions and enhanced regulation that could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, operating flexibility, financial condition and the value of our common stock and preferred stock” in this Report for further information.

Compliance and Regulatory Risk

The banking industry is highly regulated, and the regulatory framework, together with any future legislative or regulatory changes, may have a significant adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The banking industry is extensively regulated and supervised under both federal and state laws and regulations that are intended primarily for the protection of depositors, customers, federal deposit insurance funds and the banking system as a whole, not for the protection of our stockholders and creditors. We and Synovus Bank are subject to regulation and supervision by the Federal Reserve, the GA DBF, and the CFPB. The laws and regulations applicable to us govern a variety of matters, including permissible types, amounts and terms of loans and investments we may make, the maximum interest rate that may be charged, the amount of reserves Synovus Bank must hold against deposits it takes, the types of deposits Synovus Bank may accept and the rates it may pay on such deposits, maintenance of adequate capital and liquidity, changes in the control of the company and Synovus Bank, restrictions on dividends and establishment of new offices by Synovus Bank. We must obtain approval from our regulators before engaging in certain activities, and there can be no assurance that any regulatory approvals we may require will be obtained, either in a timely manner or at all. Our regulators also have the ability to compel us to, or restrict us from, taking certain actions entirely, such as actions that our regulators deem to constitute an unsafe or unsound banking practice. Our failure to comply with any applicable laws or regulations, or regulatory policies and interpretations of such laws and regulations, could result in sanctions by regulatory agencies, civil money penalties or damage to our reputation, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We cannot predict whether new legislation will be enacted and, if enacted, the effect that it, or any regulations, would have on our business, financial condition, or results of operations. See “Part I - Item 1. Business - Supervision, Regulation and Other Factors” of this Report for further information. These changes may result in increased costs of doing business, decreased revenues and net income, may reduce our ability to effectively compete to attract and retain customers, or make it less attractive for us to continue providing certain products and services. Any future changes in federal and state law and regulations, as well as the interpretations and implementations of such laws and regulations, could affect us in substantial and unpredictable ways, including those listed above, impact the regulatory structure under which we operate, significantly increase our costs, impede the efficiency of our internal business processes, require us to increase our regulatory capital and modify our business strategy, limit our ability

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to pursue business opportunities in an efficient manner, or other ways that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The current presidential administration has also introduced further uncertainty into future implementation and enforcement of the Dodd-Frank Act and other regulatory requirements applicable to the banking sector. In addition, various proposals for regulatory simplification or relief were approved by Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States in 2018. See “Part I - Item 1. Business - Supervision, Regulation and Other Factors” of this Report for further information. While these developments have contributed to increased market valuations of some companies in the banking and financial services industry, there is no assurance that any regulatory changes will be implemented, that benefits to our future financial performance will continue to be realized or that any such regulatory changes will not be reversed by future administrations.

The fiscal and monetary policies of the federal government and its agencies could have a material adverse effect on our earnings.

The Federal Reserve Board regulates the supply of money and credit in the U.S. Its policies determine in large part the cost of funds for lending and investing and the return earned on those loans and investments, both of which affect our net interest margin. They can also materially decrease the value of financial assets we hold. Federal Reserve policies may also adversely affect borrowers, potentially increasing the risk that they may fail to repay their loans, or could adversely create asset bubbles which result from prolonged periods of accommodative policy. This, in turn, may result in volatile markets and rapidly declining collateral values. The monetary policies of the Federal Reserve and other governmental policies have had a significant effect on the operating results of commercial banks in the past and are expected to continue to do so in the future. Because of changing conditions in the national and international economies and in the money markets, as well as the result of actions by monetary and fiscal authorities, all of which are beyond our control, it is not possible to predict with certainty future changes in interest rates, deposit levels, loan demand, or the business and results of operations of Synovus and Synovus Bank, or whether changing economic conditions will have a positive or negative effect on operations and earnings. Also, potential new taxes on corporations generally, or on financial institutions specifically, could adversely affect our net income.

We may become subject to supervisory actions and enhanced regulation that could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, operating flexibility, financial condition and the value of our common stock and preferred stock.

Under federal and state laws and regulations pertaining to the safety and soundness of insured depository institutions, state banking regulators, the Federal Reserve, and separately the FDIC as the insurer of bank deposits, each has the authority to compel or restrict certain actions on our part if any of them determine that we have insufficient capital or are otherwise operating in a manner that may be deemed to be inconsistent with safe and sound banking practices. In addition to examinations for safety and soundness, we and our subsidiaries also are subject to continuous examination by state and federal banking regulators, including the CFPB, for compliance with various laws and regulations, as well as consumer compliance initiatives. As a result of this regulatory oversight and examination process, our regulators may require us to enter into informal or formal supervisory agreements, including board resolutions, memoranda of understanding, written agreements and consent or cease and desist orders, pursuant to which we could be required to take identified corrective actions to address cited concerns, or to refrain from taking certain actions.

If we become subject to and are unable to comply with the terms of any future regulatory actions or directives, supervisory agreements, or orders, then we could become subject to additional, heightened supervisory actions and orders, possibly including consent orders, prompt corrective action restrictions and/or other regulatory actions, including prohibitions on the payment of dividends on our common stock and Series D Preferred Stock. If our regulators were to take such additional supervisory actions, then we could, among other things, become subject to significant restrictions on our ability to develop any new business, as well as restrictions on our existing business, and we could be required to raise additional capital, discontinue our share repurchase program, dispose of certain assets and liabilities within a prescribed period of time, or all of the above. The terms of any such supervisory action could have a material negative effect on our business, reputation, operating flexibility, financial condition and the value of our common stock. See "Part 1 - Item 1. Business - Supervision, Regulation, and Other Factors" in this Report for further information.

We may be required to undertake additional strategic initiatives to improve our capital position due to changes in economic conditions or changes in regulatory capital rules.

We and Synovus Bank are required under federal law to maintain certain minimum capital levels based on ratios of capital to total assets and capital to risk-weighted assets. The required capital ratios are minimums, and the Federal Reserve may determine that a banking organization, based on its size, complexity or risk profile, must maintain a higher level of capital in order to operate in a safe and sound manner. Moreover, federal bank regulators have issued a series of guidance and rulemakings applicable to large banks. While many of these do not currently apply to us due to our asset size, these issuances could impact industry capital standards and practices in many potentially unforeseeable ways. See “Part 1 - Item 1. Business - Supervision, Regulation, and

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Other Factors-Capital Requirements” in this Report for further information on regulatory capital requirements. At January 1, 2018, the buffer was increased to 1.875%. In addition, we repurchased $175 million of capital stock under our previously announced share repurchase program. As a result and as of December 31, 2018, our CET1 ratio was 9.92% on a fully phased-in basis, which is in excess of the minimum common equity and additional conservation buffer stipulated by the Revised Rules. See "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Capital Resources" and "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Non-GAAP Financial Measures" of this Report for applicable reconciliation to GAAP measure.
    
We continue to actively monitor economic conditions, evolving industry capital standards, and changes in regulatory standards and requirements, and engage in regular discussions with our regulators regarding capital at both Synovus and Synovus Bank. As part of our ongoing management of capital, we will continue to identify, consider, and pursue additional strategic initiatives to bolster our capital position as deemed necessary, including strategies that may be required to meet regulatory capital requirements, and will continue to evaluate our share repurchase program and increased dividends. The need to maintain more capital and greater liquidity than has been required historically could limit our business activities, including lending, and our ability to expand, either organically or through future acquisitions. It could also result in our taking steps to increase our capital that may be dilutive to shareholders or limit our ability to pay dividends or otherwise return capital to shareholders.

Market and Other Risk

Any future economic downturn could have a material adverse effect on our capital, financial condition, results of operations, and future growth.

Management continually monitors market conditions and economic factors throughout our footprint. If conditions were to worsen nationally, regionally or locally, then we could see a sharp increase in our total net charge-offs and also be required to significantly increase our allowance for loan losses. Furthermore, the demand for loans and our other products and services could decline. An increase in our non-performing assets and related increases in our provision for loan losses, coupled with a potential decrease in the demand for loans and our other products and services, could negatively affect our business and could have a material adverse effect on our capital, financial condition, results of operations and future growth. Our customers may also be adversely impacted by changes in regulatory, trade (including tariffs) and tax policies and laws, all of which could reduce demand for loans and adversely impact our borrowers’ ability to repay our loans. In addition, international economic uncertainty could also impact the U.S. financial markets by potentially suppressing stock prices, including ours, and adding to overall market volatility, which could adversely affect our business.

Interest rates on our outstanding financial instruments might be subject to change based on regulatory developments, which could adversely affect our revenue, expenses, and the value of those financial instruments.

LIBOR and certain other “benchmarks” are the subject of recent national, international, and other regulatory guidance and proposals for reform. These reforms may cause such benchmarks to perform differently than in the past or have other consequences which cannot be predicted. On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, publicly announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit LIBOR rates after 2021. U.S. regulatory authorities have voiced similar support for phasing out LIBOR. It is unclear whether, at that time, LIBOR will cease to exist or if new methods of calculating LIBOR will be established. If LIBOR ceases to exist or if the methods of calculating LIBOR change from current methods for any reason, interest rates on our floating rate obligations, loans, deposits, derivatives, and other financial instruments tied to LIBOR rates, as well as the revenue and expenses associated with those financial instruments, may be adversely affected. Any uncertainty regarding the continued use and reliability of LIBOR as a benchmark interest rate could adversely affect the trading market and value of our floating rate obligations, loans, deposits, derivatives, and other financial instruments tied to LIBOR rates.

A significant portion of our variable rate loans are tied to LIBOR. While many of these loans contain “fallback” provisions providing for alternative rate calculations in the event LIBOR is unavailable, not all of our loans contain these “fallback” provisions and existing “fallback” provisions may not adequately address the actual changes to LIBOR or successor rates. We may not be able to successfully amend these loans to provide for alternative rate calculations and such amendments could prove costly. Even with “fallback” provisions, changes to or the discontinuance of LIBOR could result in customer uncertainty and disputes around how variable rates should be calculated. All of this could result in damage to our reputation, loss of customers and additional costs to us, all of which could be material.

The soundness of other financial institutions could adversely affect us.

Our ability to engage in routine funding and other transactions could be adversely affected by the actions and commercial soundness of other financial institutions. Financial services institutions are interrelated as a result of trading, clearing, counterparty

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or other relationships. Defaults by, or even rumors or questions about, one or more financial services institutions, or the financial services industry generally, have led to market-wide liquidity problems and losses of depositor, creditor and counterparty confidence and could lead to losses or defaults by us or by other institutions. We could experience increases in deposits and assets as a result of other banks’ difficulties or failure, which would increase the capital we need to support our growth.

The recent Federal Tax Reform and future tax reform may impact our customers' future demand for credit and our future results.

While we expect Federal Tax Reform to have a positive impact on our business, that impact remains somewhat uncertain.  Some customers may elect to use their additional cash flow from lower taxes to fund their existing levels of activity, decreasing borrowing needs. Furthermore, the elimination of the federal income tax deductibility of business interest expenses for a significant number of customers effectively increases the cost of borrowing and could make equity or hybrid funding relatively more attractive. Furthermore, our ability to deduct FDIC premiums is restricted under Federal Tax Reform, and if later we exceed $50 billion in asset size, we will not be able to deduct FDIC premiums at all, thereby effectively increasing our costs. Moreover, tax exempt borrowing may be less attractive in the future due to the decrease in tax rates generally. This could have long-term negative impact on business customer borrowing. The differing effects of Federal Tax Reform for taxable corporations as compared to pass through entities owned by individuals also creates the potential for differing economic strategies by our customers that are presently uncertain and may continue to be for some time.

We experienced an increase in our after-tax net income available in 2018 as a result of the decrease in our effective tax rate and expect Federal Tax Reform to continue to positively impact our after-tax net income in future years. However, some or all of this benefit could be lost to the extent that our competitors elect to lower interest rates and fees and we are forced to respond in order to remain competitive. Furthermore, we incurred a significant one-time, non-cash provisional charge resulting from the remeasurement of our deferred tax assets in the fourth quarter of 2017. The estimated impact of Federal Tax Reform is based on management's current knowledge and assumptions, but there is no assurance that the presently anticipated benefits of Federal Tax Reform on us will be realized or that we will not incur further charges with respect to the revaluation of our deferred tax assets.     

Our current tax position, including the realization of our net deferred tax assets in the future, could be subject to potential legislative, administrative or judicial changes or interpretations, which could adversely affect our operating results.

The lower federal corporate income tax rate resulting from Federal Tax Reform caused us to revalue our deferred tax assets, resulting in a reduction of our deferred tax asset balance and a corresponding one-time, non-cash income tax charge of $47.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. We may be required to further remeasure our deferred tax assets in the future in response to future enactment of State Tax Reform, which could result in additional increases to income tax expense. Because Synovus had $141.1 million in net deferred tax assets as of December 31, 2018, $65.8 million of which is disallowed when calculating regulatory capital, a further reduction in our deferred tax asset balance and a corresponding increase in our income tax expense could have a material impact on our results of operations.               

Further tax reform could materially impact our tax obligations and operating results in a number of other ways. In addition, in the absence of guidance on various uncertainties and ambiguities in the application of certain provisions of Federal Tax Reform, we will use what we believe are reasonable interpretations and assumptions in applying Federal Tax Reform, but it is possible that the IRS could issue subsequent guidance or take positions that differ from our prior interpretations and assumptions, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, local or state authorities may interpret tax laws, including Federal Tax Reform, and regulations differently than us or may reform their own tax laws and regulations, resulting in differences in the treatment of revenues, deductions or credits and/or differences in the timing of these items. The differences in treatment may result in payment of additional taxes, interest or penalties that could have a material adverse effect on our financial results.  See "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Income Tax Expense" and "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 17 - Income Taxes" in this Report for further information.

Our stock price is subject to fluctuations, and the value of your investment may decline.

The trading price of our common stock is subject to wide fluctuations. The stock market in general, and the market for the stocks of commercial banks and other financial services companies in particular, has experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that sometimes have been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. These broad market and industry factors may seriously harm the market price of our common stock, regardless of our operating performance, and the value of your investment may decline.


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Certain shares of our common stock are entitled to ten votes per share on each matter submitted to a vote at a meeting of shareholders.

Although we only have one class of common stock, certain shares of our common stock are entitled to ten votes per share on each matter submitted to a vote at a meeting of shareholders, including common stock that has been beneficially owned continuously by the same shareholder for a period of forty-eight consecutive months before the record date of any meeting of shareholders at which the share is eligible to be voted. Therefore, while a holder of common stock may have an economic interest in us that is identical to or even greater than another shareholder, that other shareholder may be entitled to ten times as many votes per share. As a result, some groups of shareholders will be able to approve strategic transactions or increases in authorized capital stock, among other matters submitted to the shareholders, even over the objections of shareholders, who hold equivalent or greater economic stakes in our company.

Our articles of incorporation, our Rights Plan and certain banking laws and regulations may have an anti-takeover effect.

Provisions of our articles of incorporation, our Rights Plan and certain banking laws and regulations, including regulatory approval requirements, could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if doing so would be perceived to be beneficial to our shareholders. The combination of these provisions may inhibit a non-negotiated merger or other business combination, which, in turn, could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

28



ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
NONE.
ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
We and our subsidiaries own or lease all of the real property and/or buildings in which we operate our business. We believe that our properties are suitable for the purposes of our operations.
As of December 31, 2018, we and our subsidiaries owned 198 facilities encompassing 1,864,872 square feet and leased from third parties 95 facilities encompassing 974,600 square feet. The owned and leased facilities are primarily comprised of office space from which we conduct our business in our headquarters in Columbus, Georgia and throughout our footprint. The following table provides additional information with respect to our leased facilities: 
Table 2 - Properties
Square Footage
Number of Locations
 
Average Square Footage
Under 3,000
18

 
1,489

3,000 – 9,999
59

 
4,811

10,000 – 18,999
6

 
13,709

19,000 – 30,000
6

 
24,269

Over 30,000
6

 
72,682

 
 
 
 
See "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 5 - Premises and Equipment" of this Report for further information.
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
Synovus and its subsidiaries are subject to various legal proceedings and claims that arise in the ordinary course of its business. Additionally, in the ordinary course of business, Synovus and its subsidiaries are subject to regulatory examinations, information gathering requests, tax matters, inquiries and investigations. Synovus, like many other financial institutions, has been the target of numerous legal actions and other proceedings asserting claims for damages and related relief for losses. These actions include claims and counterclaims asserted by individuals related to loans and allegations of violations of state and federal laws and regulations relating to banking practices, including putative class action matters, and also claims asserted by shareholders or purported shareholders against Synovus, members of Synovus' Board of Directors, and members of Synovus' management team. In addition to actual damages if Synovus does not prevail in asserted legal actions, credit-related litigation could result in additional write-downs or charge-offs of loans, which could adversely affect Synovus' results of operations during the period in which the write-down or charge-off were to occur.
In addition, on February 15, 2019, a shareholder derivative action, LeMay v. Synovus Financial Corp., Civil Action No. 19-A-01389-9, was filed in the Superior Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia against the Company and certain of its directors and officers alleging breach of fiduciary duties, unjust enrichment, gross mismanagement, corporate waste, disgorgement of compensation, injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and expenses, and punitive damages.  Synovus believes that the allegations are without merit and intends to defend against this matter vigorously. 
Based on our current knowledge and advice of counsel, management presently does not believe that the liabilities arising from these legal matters will have a material adverse effect on Synovus' consolidated financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. However, it is possible that the ultimate resolution of these legal matters could have a material adverse effect on Synovus' results of operations for any particular period. For additional information, see "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 15 - Commitments and Contingencies" of this Report, which Note is incorporated in this Item 3 by this reference.
ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
NOT APPLICABLE.

29



Part II

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER REPURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Shares of our common stock are traded on the NYSE under the symbol “SNV.”
As of February 26, 2019, there were 159,145,739 shares of Synovus common stock issued and outstanding and 12,376 shareholders of record of Synovus common stock, some of which are holders in nominee name for the benefit of a number of different shareholders.
Stock Performance Graph
The following graph compares the yearly percentage change in cumulative shareholder return on Synovus stock with the cumulative total return of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the KBW Regional Bank Index for the last five fiscal years (assuming a $100 investment on December 31, 2013 and reinvestment of all dividends).
396925309_chart-dbedfcd588bb5c969ae.jpg
Table 3 - Stock Performance
 
 
2013
 
2014
 
2015
 
2016
 
2017
 
2018
Synovus
 
$
100

 
$
108.60

 
$
131.65

 
$
169.46

 
$
200.47

 
$
136.83

Standard & Poor's 500 Index
 
100

 
111.39

 
110.58

 
121.13

 
144.65

 
135.63

KBW Regional Bank Index
 
100

 
100.20

 
103.67

 
140.65

 
140.22

 
113.06

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



30



Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
On January 23, 2018, Synovus announced a $150 million share repurchase program to be executed during 2018, and on December 3, 2018, Synovus announced an additional $25 million share repurchase program to be executed during December 2018. The table below sets forth information regarding repurchases of our common stock during the fourth quarter of 2018, all of which were made under the share repurchase programs announced in January and December 2018.
 
Table 4 - Share Repurchases
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(in thousands, except per share data)
 
Total Number of Shares Repurchased
 
Average Price Paid per Share(1)
 
Total Number
of Shares Repurchased as
Part of
Publicly Announced
Plans or Programs
 
Maximum Approximate
Dollar Value
of Shares
that May Yet Be
Purchased Under the
Plans or Programs
 
 
October 2018
 
345

 
$
44.19

 
345

 
$

 
November 2018
 

 

 

 

 
December 2018
 
711

 
35.16

 
711

 

 
Total
 
1,056

 
$
38.11

 
1,056

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(1)  
The average price paid per share is calculated on a trade date basis for all open market transactions and excludes commissions and other transaction expenses.

The foregoing repurchases during the fourth quarter of 2018 were purchased through open market transactions, including under plans complying with Rule 10b5-1 under the Exchange Act.
Following the December 31, 2018 completion and expiration of both the $150 million share repurchase program and the additional $25 million share repurchase program, the Board of Directors authorized a new share repurchase program of up to $400 million, of which $300-$325 million is currently expected to be repurchased during 2019. This new program was announced on January 15, 2019.

31



ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
Table 5 - Selected Financial Data
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As Of and For The Years Ended December 31,
(in thousands, except per share data)
2018
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
Income Statement
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total revenues    
$
1,428,506

 
$
1,368,636

 
$
1,172,374

 
$
1,095,238

 
$
1,081,388

Net interest income
1,148,413

 
1,023,309

 
899,180

 
827,318

 
819,284

Provision for loan losses
51,697

 
67,185

 
28,000

 
19,010

 
33,831

Non-interest income
280,093

 
345,327

 
273,194

 
267,920

 
262,104

Non-interest expense
829,455

 
821,313

 
755,923

 
717,655

 
744,998

Net income
428,476

 
275,474

 
246,784

 
226,082

 
195,249

Preferred stock dividends and redemption charge
17,998

 
10,238

 
10,238

 
10,238

 
10,238

Net income available to common shareholders
410,478

 
265,236

 
236,546

 
215,844

 
185,011

Per share data
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net income per common share, basic
3.49

 
2.19

 
1.90

 
1.63

 
1.34

Net income per common share, diluted
3.47

 
2.17

 
1.89

 
1.62

 
1.33

Cash dividends declared per common share
1.00

 
0.60

 
0.48

 
0.42

 
0.31

Book value per common share
25.36

 
23.85

 
22.92

 
22.19

 
21.42

Balance Sheet
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Investment securities available for sale
3,991,632

 
3,987,069

 
3,718,195

 
3,587,818

 
3,041,406

Loans, net of deferred fees and costs
25,946,573

 
24,787,464

 
23,856,391

 
22,429,565

 
21,097,699

Total assets
32,669,192

 
31,221,837

 
30,104,002

 
28,792,653

 
27,050,237

Deposits
26,720,322

 
26,147,900

 
24,648,060

 
23,242,661

 
21,531,700

Long-term debt
1,657,157

 
1,606,138

 
2,160,881

 
2,136,893

 
1,949,324

Total shareholders’ equity
3,133,602

 
2,961,566

 
2,927,924

 
3,000,196

 
3,041,270

Performance ratios and other data
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Return on average assets
1.35
%
 
0.89
%
 
0.84
%
 
0.80
%
 
0.74
%
Return on average equity
14.29

 
9.27

 
8.40

 
7.49

 
6.45

Net interest margin
3.86

 
3.55

 
3.27

 
3.19

 
3.38

Dividend payout ratio(1)    
28.84

 
27.60

 
25.38

 
25.93

 
23.13

Total shareholders' equity to total assets ratio
9.59

 
9.49

 
9.73

 
10.42

 
11.24

Tangible common equity to tangible assets ratio(2)    
8.81

 
8.88

 
9.09

 
9.90

 
10.69

Weighted average common shares outstanding, basic
117,644

 
121,162

 
124,389

 
132,423

 
138,495

Weighted average common shares outstanding, diluted
118,378

 
122,012

 
125,078

 
133,201

 
139,154

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(1) 
Determined by dividing cash dividends declared per common share by diluted net income per share.
(2) 
See "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Non-GAAP Financial Measures” of this Report for applicable reconciliation to GAAP measure.

32



ITEM 7.
MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Executive Summary
The following financial review provides a discussion of Synovus' financial condition, changes in financial condition, and results of operations as well as a summary of Synovus' critical accounting policies. This section should be read in conjunction with the audited consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included in "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data" of this Report.
Overview of 2018 Financial Results
Net income available to common shareholders for 2018 was $410.5 million, or $3.47 per diluted common share, an increase of 54.8% and 59.5%, respectively, compared to $265.2 million, or $2.17 per diluted common share for 2017. Results for 2018 were generally in line with our 2018 guidance and on track to achieve our long-term targets for EPS growth, ROA, ROTCE, and tangible efficiency ratio that were announced in January 2019.
For 2018:
EPS grew 59.5%; Adjusted EPS grew 43.8%(1) / (long-term target CAGR 10%+)
ROA improved to 1.35%; Adjusted ROA improved to 1.41%(1) / (long-term target >1.45%)
ROE improved to 14.55%; ROTCE improved to 14.94%(1); Adjusted ROTCE improved to 15.66%(1) /(long-term target >17%)
Efficiency ratio improved to 57.99%; Adjusted tangible efficiency ratio improved to 56.33%(1) / (long-term target adjusted tangible efficiency ratio <50%)
Total revenues for 2018 were $1.43 billion, up 4.4%, compared to 2017. Adjusted total revenues(1), which exclude the Cabela's Transaction Fee and other items, were $1.44 billion, up 10.6%, compared to 2017.
Net interest income for 2018 was $1.15 billion, up $125.1 million, or 12.2%, from 2017. During 2018, average earning assets increased $966.3 million, or 3.3%, primarily as a result of an increase in net loans of $807.4 million, or 3.3%, and an increase of $224.0 million, or 5.8%, in investment securities balances. The net interest margin was 3.86% for 2018, an increase of 31 basis points from 2017. The yield on earning assets increased 48 basis points to 4.51% driven by a 51 basis points increase in loan yields and a 23 basis points increase in taxable investment securities yields. The increase in loan yields was primarily driven by federal funds rate increases. The increase in taxable investment securities yields was primarily due to higher reinvestment rates. Offsetting these favorable impacts to net interest margin was an increase of $56.7 million, or 40.7%, of interest-bearing liabilities and an increase in cost of funds of 19 basis points to 0.69% (the cost of funds includes non-interest-bearing demand deposits).
Non-interest income for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $280.1 million, down $65.2 million, or 18.9%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2017. The decrease was driven by the $75 million Cabela's Transaction Fee recorded in 2017. Adjusted non-interest income(1), which excludes the Cabela's Transaction Fee and other items, was up $12.4 million, or 4.5%, compared to 2017. The growth in 2018 was driven primarily by an increase of $12.2 million, or 14.5%, in combined fiduciary and asset management fees, brokerage, and insurance revenues.
Non-interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $829.5 million, an increase of $8.1 million, or 1.0%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2017. Adjusted non-interest expense(1) for 2018 increased $31.1 million, or 4.0%, compared to 2017, driven primarily by an increase of $20.1 million, or 4.6%, in salaries and other personnel expense, and an increase of $10.5 million, or 8.8%, in net occupancy and equipment expense.
Income tax expense was $118.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2018, a decrease of $85.8 million, or 41.9%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2017, representing an effective tax rate of 21.7% for 2018 and 42.6% for 2017. The lower effective tax rate for 2018 was primarily due to a reduction in the federal corporate statutory tax rate from 35% to 21% and non-recurring income tax expense of $47.2 million recorded in 2017 for the remeasurement of deferred tax assets and liabilities resulting from Federal Tax Reform.
Credit quality remained strong in 2018 with the non-performing asset ratio improving to 0.44%, a 9 basis points decline from a year ago. Loans 30 or more days past due were 0.22% and 0.21% at December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Net charge-offs for 2018 were 20 basis points, down from 29 basis points during 2017. The allowance for loan losses at December 31, 2018 was $250.6 million, or 0.97% of total loans, compared to $249.3 million, or 1.01% of total loans, at December 31, 2017.
Total loans ended the year at $25.95 billion, a $1.16 billion or 4.7% increase from a year ago. Loan growth was driven by a $757.6 million, or 6.3%, increase in C&I loans and a $771.2 million, or 13.2%, increase in consumer loans, with our lending

33



partnerships portfolio growing $429.8 million and consumer mortgages increasing by $300.7 million. This growth was partially offset by a decline in CRE loans of $370.8 million, or 5.3%. Total average loans increased by $808.8 million, or 3.3%, to $25.19 billion from $24.38 billion in 2017.
Total deposits were $26.72 billion at December 31, 2018, an increase of $572.4 million, or 2.2%, compared to year-end 2017. Total average deposits increased $969.7 million, or 3.8%, to $26.34 billion in 2018 from $25.37 billion in 2017. Average core deposits(1) were up $777.0 million, or 3.3%, from 2017 and average non-interest-bearing demand deposits as a percentage of total average deposits were 29.1% for 2018 compared to 29.0% for 2017.
On June 21, 2018, Synovus completed a public offering of $200 million of Series D Preferred Stock. The offering generated net proceeds of $195.1 million, which were largely used to fund the redemption of all of the outstanding shares of Series C Preferred Stock on August 1, 2018 for an aggregate redemption price of $130.0 million. Concurrent with the redemption of the Series C Preferred Stock, Synovus recognized a one-time, non-cash redemption charge of $4.0 million.
During 2018, Synovus repurchased $175.0 million, or 3.7 million shares, of common stock through open market transactions under its authorized share repurchase programs. Additionally, Synovus increased the quarterly common stock dividend by 67% to $0.25 per share effective with the quarterly dividend payable in April 2018.
More detail on Synovus' financial results for 2018 can be found in subsequent sections of "Item 2. – Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" of this Report.
2019 Capital Actions
During the fourth quarter of 2018, the Board of Directors authorized a new share repurchase program of up to $400 million, of which $300-$325 million is currently expected to be repurchased during 2019. Additionally, the Board of Directors approved a 20% increase in the quarterly common stock dividend to $0.30 per share, effective with the quarterly dividend payable in April 2019. On February 7, 2019, Synovus completed a public offering of $300.0 million aggregate principal amount of 5.900% fixed-to-fixed rate subordinated notes due in 2029. Proceeds from these notes are expected to be used primarily to repurchase common stock under the 2019 authorization.
FCB Acquisition
Effective January 1, 2019, Synovus completed its acquisition of all of the outstanding stock of FCB, a bank holding company based in Weston, Florida. The fair value of the consideration transferred totaled approximately $1.60 billion. Effective January 1, 2019, Florida Community Bank, National Association, FCB's wholly-owned banking subsidiary, merged into Synovus Bank. At the closing date, FCB had total loans of $9.42 billion, total deposits of $10.89 billion and operated 51 full service banking centers through its wholly-owned banking subsidiary, Florida Community Bank. The addition of FCB is expected to elevate Synovus' growth profile through a deepened presence in high-growth Florida markets.  Conversion of FCB operating systems and brand are expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2019.
2019 Outlook
For the full year 2019, compared to 2018 results on a combined basis for Synovus and FCB, we currently expect:
Loan growth of 5.5% to 7.5%
Deposit growth of 5.5% to 7.5%
Revenue Growth of 5.5% to 7.5%
Adjusted non-interest expense growth of 2% to 4%
Effective income tax rate of 23% to 24%
Net charge-off ratio of 15 to 20 b.p.s
(1) 
See "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Non-GAAP Financial Measures" of this Report for applicable reconciliation to GAAP measure.

34



Consolidated Financial Highlights
A summary of Synovus’ financial performance for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017 is set forth in the table below.
Table 6 - Consolidated Financial Highlights
 
 
 
 
 
Years Ended December 31,
(dollars in thousands, except per share data)
 
2018
 
2017
 
Change
 
Net interest income
 
$
1,148,413

 
$
1,023,309

 
12.2

%
Provision for loan losses
 
51,697

 
67,185

 
(23.1
)
 
Non-interest income
 
280,093

 
345,327

 
(18.9
)
 
Adjusted non-interest income(1)
 
286,132

 
273,709

 
4.5

 
Total revenues
 
1,428,506

 
1,368,636

 
4.4

 
Adjusted total revenues(1)
 
1,435,098

 
1,298,142

 
10.6

 
Non-interest expense
 
829,455

 
821,313

 
1.0

 
Adjusted non-interest expense(1)
 
808,320

 
777,260

 
4.0

 
Income before income taxes
 
547,354

 
480,138

 
14.0

 
Net income
 
428,476

 
275,474

 
55.5

 
Net income available to common shareholders
 
410,478

 
265,236

 
54.8

 
Net income per common share, basic
 
3.49

 
2.19

 
59.4

 
Net income per common share, diluted
 
3.47

 
2.17

 
59.5

 
Adjusted net income per common share, diluted(1)
 
3.64

 
2.53

 
43.8

 
Return on average common equity
 
14.55
%
 
9.32
%
 
523

bps
Adjusted return on average common equity(1)
 
15.29

 
10.86

 
443

 
Adjusted return on average tangible common equity(1)
 
15.66

 
11.14

 
452

 
Return on average assets
 
1.35

 
0.89

 
46

 
Adjusted return on average assets(1)
 
1.41

 
1.04

 
37

 
Efficiency ratio
 
57.99

 
59.95

 
(196
)
 
Adjusted tangible efficiency ratio(1)
 
56.33

 
59.87

 
(354
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As Of and For The Years Ended December 31,
 
 
2018
 
2017
 
Change
 
Loans, net of deferred fees and costs
 
$
25,946,573

 
$
24,787,464

 
4.7

%
Total deposits
 
26,720,322

 
26,147,900

 
2.2

 
Total average deposits
 
26,344,118

 
25,374,388

 
3.8

 
Average core deposits(1)    
 
24,526,998

 
23,750,007

 
3.3

 
Net interest margin
 
3.86
%
 
3.55
%
 
31

bps
Non-performing assets ratio
 
0.44

 
0.53

 
(9
)
 
Non-performing loans ratio
 
0.41

 
0.47

 
(6
)
 
Past due loans over 90 days
 
0.01

 
0.02

 
(1
)
 
Net charge-off ratio
 
0.20

 
0.29

 
(9
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CET1 capital (transitional)    
 
$
2,897,997

 
$
2,763,168

 
4.9

%
Tier 1 risk-based capital
 
3,090,416

 
2,872,001

 
7.6

 
Total risk-based capital
 
3,601,376

 
3,383,081

 
6.5

 
CET1 capital ratio (transitional)
 
9.95
%
 
9.99
%
 
(4
)
bps
Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio
 
10.61

 
10.38

 
23

 
Total risk-based capital ratio
 
12.37

 
12.23

 
14

 
Total shareholders’ equity to total assets ratio    
 
9.59

 
9.49

 
10

 
Tangible common equity to tangible assets ratio(1)    
 
8.81

 
8.88

 
(7
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(1) 
See "Part II - Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Non-GAAP Financial Measures" of this Report for applicable reconciliation to GAAP measures.


35



Critical Accounting Policies
The accounting and financial reporting policies of Synovus are in accordance with GAAP and conform to the accounting and reporting guidelines prescribed by bank regulatory authorities. Synovus has identified certain of its accounting policies as “critical accounting policies,” consisting of those related to the accounting for the allowance for loan losses, fair value measurements, and income taxes. In determining which accounting policies are critical in nature, Synovus has identified the policies that require significant judgment or involve complex estimates. It is management's practice to discuss critical accounting policies with the Board of Directors' Audit Committee on a periodic basis, including the development, selection, implementation, and disclosure of the critical accounting policies. The application of these policies has a significant impact on Synovus’ consolidated financial statements. Synovus’ financial results could differ significantly if different judgments or estimates are applied in the application of these policies.
Allowance for Loan Losses
The allowance for loan losses is a significant accounting estimate that represents management's best estimate of probable losses inherent in the funded loan portfolio. The economic and business climate in any given industry or market is difficult to gauge and can change rapidly, and the effects of those changes can vary by borrower. Significant judgments and estimates are necessary in the determination of the allowance for loan losses. Significant judgments include, among others, loan risk ratings and classifications, the determination and measurement of impaired loans, the timing of loan charge-offs, the probability of loan defaults, the net loss exposure in the event of loan defaults, the loss emergence period, qualitative loss factors, as well as other qualitative considerations. In determining the allowance for loan losses, management makes numerous assumptions, estimates, and assessments, which are inherently subjective. The use of different estimates or assumptions could have a significant impact on the provision for loan losses, allowance for loan losses, non-performing loans, loan charge-offs, financial condition, and results of operations. A detailed discussion of the methodology used in determining the ALL as well as information regarding recently issued accounting standards related to the ALL are included in "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 1 - Summary of Significant Accounting Policies" of this Report.
Fair Value Measurements
Synovus evaluates assets, liabilities, and other financial instruments that are either required or elected to be recorded, reported, or disclosed at fair value, and determines the fair value of these instruments as the exchange price that would be received for an asset or paid to transfer a liability in the principal or most advantageous market for the asset or liability in an orderly transaction between market participants on the measurement date. Synovus updates the fair value measurements of each instrument on a periodic basis, but no less than quarterly.
Synovus selects the most appropriate technique for determining the fair value of the asset or liability. The degree of management judgment involved in determining fair value is dependent upon the availability of quoted prices or observable market data. There is minimal subjectivity involved in measuring the fair value of financial instruments based on quoted market prices; however, when quoted prices and observable market data are not available, Synovus uses a valuation technique requiring significant judgment to estimate the appropriate fair value. See "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 1 - Summary of Significant Accounting Policies" and "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 13 - Fair Value Accounting" of this Report for further discussion of fair value measurements and Synovus' use of the various fair value methodologies and the types of assets and liabilities in which fair value accounting is applied.
Synovus accounts for acquired assets and liabilities at their respective fair values using the acquisition method of accounting. Determination of the fair value often involves estimates based on third party valuations or internal valuations based on discounted cash flow analyses or other valuation techniques, which are inherently subjective. Additionally, the amortization of identified intangible assets is based upon the estimated economic benefits to be received, which is also subjective. Typically, acquisitions result in the recognition of goodwill, which is subject to ongoing periodic impairment tests of each reporting unit. Synovus applies ASC 350-20-35-3A, Goodwill Subsequent Measurement - Qualitative Assessment, for its determination of impairment. Refer to "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 1 - Summary of Significant Accounting Policies" and "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 6 - Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets" for a description of the impairment testing process and key assumptions management utilizes to perform its qualitative assessment.
Income taxes
The calculation of Synovus’ income tax provision is complex and requires the use of estimates and judgments in its determination. As part of Synovus’ overall business strategy, management must consider tax laws and regulations that apply to the specific facts and circumstances under consideration. As such, the Company is often required to exercise significant judgment regarding the interpretation of these tax laws and regulations, in which Synovus' anticipated and actual liability could significantly vary based upon the taxing authority’s interpretation. Specifically, significant estimates in accounting for income taxes relate to the valuation allowance for deferred tax assets, estimates of the realizability of income tax credits, utilization of net operating losses, the determination of taxable income, and the determination of uncertain tax positions and temporary differences between

36



book and tax bases. Adjustments to these items may occur due to modifications in tax rates, newly enacted laws, resolution of items with taxing authorities, alterations to interpretative statutory, judicial, and regulatory guidance that affects the Company’s tax positions, methods or elections changes, or other facts and circumstances. Management closely monitors tax developments and the potential timing of these changes in order to evaluate the effect they may have on the Company’s overall tax position and the estimates and judgments used in determining the income tax provision and records adjustments as necessary. See "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 1 - Summary of Significant Accounting Policies" and "Part II - Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data - Note 17 - Income Taxes" for additional details.
DISCUSSION OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Investment Securities Available for Sale
The investment securities portfolio consists principally of debt securities classified as available for sale. Investment securities available for sale provide Synovus with a source of liquidity and a relatively stable source of income. The investment securities portfolio also provides management with a tool to balance the interest rate risk of its loan and deposit portfolios. See Table 8 for maturity and average yield information of the investment securities available for sale portfolio.
The investment strategy focuses on the use of the investment securities portfolio to generate interest income and to assist in the management of interest rate risk. Synovus increased the portfolio's duration slightly during 2018 while the average balance of the portfolio increased from the prior year. The weighted average duration of the investment securities portfolio was 4.1 years at December 31, 2018 compared to 3.8 years at December 31, 2017.
Synovus also utilizes a significant portion of its investment portfolio to secure certain deposits and other liabilities requiring collateralization. At December 31, 2018, $1.56 billion of these investment securities were pledged to secure certain deposits and securities sold under repurchase agreements as required by law and contractual agreements. The investment securities are primarily mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. government agencies and GSEs, both of which have a high degree of liquidity and limited credit risk. A mortgage-backed security depends on the underlying pool of mortgage loans to provide a cash flow pass-through of principal and interest. At December 31, 2018, all of the collateralized mortgage obligations and mortgage-backed pass-through securities held by Synovus were issued or backed by federal agencies or GSEs.
As of December 31, 2018 and 2017, the estimated fair value of investment securities available for sale as a percentage of their amortized cost was 97.7% and 98.7%, respectively. The investment securities available for sale portfolio had gross unrealized gains of $6.3 million and gross unrealized losses of $100.6 million, for a net unrealized loss of $94.3 million as of December 31, 2018. The investment securities available for sale portfolio had gross unrealized gains of $6.1 million and gross unrealized losses of $57.3 million, for a net unrealized loss of $51.2 million as of December 31, 2017. Shareholders’ equity included net unrealized losses of $83.2 million and $43.5 million on the available for sale portfolio as of December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively.
The average balance of investment securities available for sale increased to $4.08 billion in 2018 from $3.85 billion in 2017. The portfolio earned a taxable-equivalent rate of 2.38% and 2.15% for 2018 and 2017, respectively. For the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2017, average investment securities available for sale represented 13.66% and 13.34%, respectively, of average interest earning assets.
The following table shows investment securities available for sale by type as of December 31, 2018 and 2017.
 
Table 7 - Investment Securities Available for Sale
December 31,
 
 
(in thousands)
2018
 
2017
 
U.S. Treasury securities
$
122,077

 
$
82,674

 
U.S. Government agency securities
38,382

 
10,862

 
Mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. Government agencies
97,205

 
120,440

 
Mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. Government sponsored enterprises
2,398,650

 
2,595,626

 
Collateralized mortgage obligations issued by U.S. Government agencies or sponsored enterprises
1,188,518

 
1,111,999

 
Commercial mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. Government sponsored agencies
129,865

 
44,897

 
State and municipal securities

 
180

 
Corporate debt and other securities
16,935

 
20,391

 
Investment securities available for sale
$
3,991,632

 
$
3,987,069

 
 
 
 
 

37



The calculation of weighted average yields for investment securities available for sale displayed below is based on the amortized cost and effective yields of each security. Maturity information is presented based upon contractual maturity. Actual maturities may differ from contractual maturities because issuers may have the right to call or prepay obligations with or without call or prepayment penalties.
Table 8 - Maturities and Weighted Average Yields of Investment Securities Available for Sale as of December 31, 2018
(dollars in thousands)
Within One
Year
 
1 to 5
Years
 
5 to 10
Years
 
More Than
10 Years
 
Total
Fair Value
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
U.S. Treasury securities
$
19,476

 
$
102,601

 
$

 
$

 
$
122,077

U.S. Government agency securities
1,922

 
6,161

 
30,299

 

 
38,382

Mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. Government agencies

 

 
23,698

 
73,507

 
97,205

Mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. Government sponsored enterprises

 
52,316

 
404,554

 
1,941,780

 
2,398,650

Collateralized mortgage obligations issued by U.S. Government agencies or sponsored enterprises

 

 
26,291

 
1,162,227

 
1,188,518

Commercial mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. Government sponsored agencies

 

 
129,865

 

 
129,865

Corporate debt and other securities

 

 
15,150

 
1,785

 
16,935

Total
$
21,398

 
$
161,078

 
$
629,857

 
$
3,179,299

 
$
3,991,632

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Weighted Average Yield
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
U.S. Treasury securities
1.97
%
 
1.84
%
 
%
 
%
 
1.86
%
U.S. Government agency securities
5.61

 
5.54

 
3.66

 

 
4.06

Mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. Government agencies

 

 
2.14

 
2.50

 
2.41

Mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. Government sponsored enterprises

 
2.03

 
1.90

 
2.59

 
2.46

Collateralized mortgage obligations issued by U.S. Government agencies or sponsored enterprises

 

 
1.72

 
2.57

 
2.55

Commercial mortgage-backed securities issued by U.S. Government sponsored agencies

 

 
2.86

 

 
2.86

Corporate debt and other securities

 

 
5.50

 
6.50

 
5.62

Total
2.30
%
 
2.04
%
 
2.26
%
 
2.58
%
 
2.51
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

38



Loans
The following table shows loans by portfolio class and as a percentage of total loans, net of deferred fees and costs, as of December 31, 2018 and 2017.    
Table 9 - Loans by Portfolio Class
 
 
December 31,
 
 
2018
 
2017
(dollars in thousands)
 
Total Loans
 
     %*    
 
Total Loans
 
     %*    
Commercial, financial, and agricultural
 
$
7,449,698

 
28.7
%
 
$
7,179,487

 
29.0
%
Owner-occupied
 
5,331,508

 
20.5

 
4,844,163

 
19.5

Total commercial and industrial
 
12,781,206

 
49.2

 
12,023,650

 
48.5

Investment properties
 
5,560,951

 
21.4

 
5,670,065

 
22.9

1-4 family properties
 
679,870

 
2.7

 
781,619

 
3.1

Land and development
 
323,670

 
1.2

 
483,604

 
2.0

Total commercial real estate
 
6,564,491

 
25.3

 
6,935,288

 
28.0

Consumer mortgages
 
2,934,235

 
11.3

 
2,633,503

 
10.6

Home equity lines
 
1,515,796

 
5.8

 
1,514,227

 
6.1

Credit cards
 
258,245

 
1.0

 
232,676

 
0.9

Other consumer loans
 
1,916,743

 
7.4

 
1,473,451

 
5.9

Total consumer
 
6,625,019

 
25.5

 
5,853,857

 
23.5

   Total loans
 
25,970,716

 
100.0

 
24,812,795

 
100.0

   Deferred fees and costs, net
 
(24,143
)
 
nm

 
(25,331
)
 
nm

Total loans, net of deferred fees and costs
 
$
25,946,573

 
100.0
%
 
$
24,787,464

 
100.0
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
*
Loan balance in each category is before net deferred fees and costs and is expressed as a percentage of total loans, net of deferred fees and costs.
nm - not meaningful
Total loans ended the year at $25.95 billion, a $1.16 billion, or 4.7%, increase from a year ago. Loan growth was driven by a $757.6 million, or 6.3%, increase in C&I loans and a $771.2 million, or 13.2%, increase in consumer loans, with our lending partnerships portfolio growing $429.8 million and consumer mortgages increasing by $300.7 million, or 11.4%. This growth was partially offset by a decline in CRE loans of $370.8 million, or 5.3%. Investment properties loans declined by $109.1 million, or 1.9%, while 1-4 family properties and land and development loans declined by $101.7 million, or 13.0%, and $159.9 million, or 33.1%, respectively.
Commercial Loans
The commercial loan portfolio consists of C&I loans and CRE loans. Total commercial loans at December 31, 2018 were $19.35 billion, or 74.5% of the total loan portfolio, and grew $386.8 million, or 2.0%, from December 31, 2017.
At December 31, 2018 and 2017, Synovus had 30 and 25 commercial loan relationships, respectively, with total commitments of $50 million or more (including amounts funded). The average funded balance of these relationships at both December 31, 2018 and 2017 was approximately $35 million.
Commercial and Industrial Loans
The C&I loan portfolio represents the largest category of Synovus' total loan portfolio. The following table shows the composition of the C&I loan portfolio aggregated by NAICS code. In accordance with Synovus' lending policy, each loan undergoes a detailed underwriting process which incorporates uniform underwriting standards and oversight in proportion to the size and complexity of the lending relationship.

39



Table 10 - Commercial and Industrial Loans by Industry
 
December 31, 2018
 
December 31, 2017
(dollars in thousands)
Amount
 
%*
 
Amount
 
%*
Health care and social assistance
$
3,021,001

 
23.6
%
 
$
2,783,113

 
23.1
%
Manufacturing
1,073,590

 
8.4

 
943,694

 
7.9

Finance and insurance
901,377

 
7.1

 
784,643

 
6.5

Retail trade
888,850

 
7.0

 
870,410

 
7.2

Professional, scientific, and technical services
829,830

 
6.5

 
799,066

 
6.6

Other services
789,744

 
6.2

 
765,219

 
6.4

Real estate, rental and leasing
758,011

 
5.9

 
783,758

 
6.5

Wholesale trade
686,884

 
5.4

 
679,036

 
5.7

Accommodation and food services
647,318

 
5.1

 
567,262

 
4.7

Construction
605,730

 
4.7

 
520,281

 
4.3

Real estate other
476,918

 
3.7

 
510,693

 
4.2

Transportation and warehousing
476,827

 
3.7

 
427,608

 
3.6

Other industries
465,994

 
3.6

 
441,815

 
3.7

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting
342,691

 
2.7

 
353,628

 
2.9

Educational services
284,840

 
2.2

 
259,367

 
2.2

Administration, support, waste management, and remediation
281,130

 
2.2

 
283,333

 
2.4

Information
250,471

 
2.0

 
250,724

 
2.1

Total C&I loans
$
12,781,206

 
100.0
%
 
$
12,023,650

 
100.0
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
*
Loan balance in each category expressed as a percentage of total C&I loans.
As of December 31, 2018, 92% of C&I loans are secured by real estate, business equipment, inventory, and other types of collateral. Total C&I loans at December 31, 2018 were $12.78 billion, or 49.2% of the total loan portfolio, compared to $12.02 billion, or 48.5% of the total loan portfolio, at December 31, 2017, an increase of $757.6 million, or 6.3%, from 2017. Global One, our life insurance premium finance lender acquired in 2016, contributed $219.1 million of the total growth in 2018. Additionally, the industries that primarily contributed to the growth during 2018 included health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and finance and insurance. At December 31, 2018, $7.45 billion, or 58.3%, of total C&I loans represented loans for the purpose of financing commercial, financial, and agricultural business activities compared to $7.18 billion, or 59.7%, of total C&I loans at December 31, 2017. The primary source of repayment on these loans is revenue generated from products or services offered by the business or organization. The secondary source of repayment is the collateral, which consists primarily of equipment, inventory, accounts receivable, time deposits, cash surrender value of life insurance, and other business assets. At December 31, 2018, $5.33 billion, or 41.7%, of total C&I loans represented loans for the purpose of financing owner-occupied properties compared to $4.84 billion, or 40.3%, of total C&I loans at December 31, 2017. The financing of owner-occupied facilities is considered a C&I loan even though there is improved real estate as collateral. This treatment is a result of the credit decision process, which focuses on cash flow from operations of the business to repay the debt. The secondary source of repayment on these loans is the underlying real estate. These loans are predominately secured by owner-occupied and other real estate, and to a lesser extent, other types of collateral.
Commercial Real Estate Loans
CRE loans consist of investment properties, 1-4 family properties, and land and development loans. Total CRE loans were $6.56 billion, or 25.3% of the total loan portfolio, at December 31, 2018, a decrease of $370.8 million, or 5.3%, from December 31, 2017. The decline in CRE loans has largely been a result of our strategic, selective approach to these types of loans as we continue to closely monitor our markets and loan categories while maintaining discipline around pricing and structure.
Investment Properties Loans
Investment properties loans consist of construction and mortgage loans for income producing properties and are primarily made to finance multi-family properties, hotels, office buildings, shopping centers, warehouses and other commercial development properties. Total investment properties loans as of December 31, 2018 were $5.56 billion, or 84.7% of the total CRE loan portfolio, and 21.4% of the total loan portfolio, compared to $5.67 billion, or 81.8% of the total CRE loan portfolio, and 22.9% of the total loan portfolio at December 31, 2017. Total investment properties decreased $109.1 million, or 1.9%, during 2018 primarily due to a decline in multi-family properties partially offset by an increase in other investment property.

40



The following table shows the principal categories of the investment properties loan portfolio at December 31, 2018 and 2017.
Table 11 - Investment Properties Loan Portfolio
 
December 31,
 
2018
 
2017
(dollars in thousands)
Amount
 
%
 
Amount
 
%
Office buildings
$
1,451,048

 
26.1
%
 
$
1,499,834

 
26.5
%
Multi-family
1,208,033

 
21.7

 
1,492,159

 
26.3

Shopping centers
808,540

 
14.5

 
791,311

 
14.0

Hotels
704,319

 
12.7

 
741,703

 
13.1

Warehouses
627,353

 
11.3

 
581,410

 
10.2

Other investment property
761,658

 
13.7

 
563,648

 
9.9

Total investment properties loans
$
5,560,951

 
100.0
%
 
$
5,670,065

 
100.0
%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
* Loan balance in each category expressed as a percentage of total investment properties loans.
1-4 Family Properties Loans
1-4 family properties loans include construction loans to homebuilders and commercial mortgage loans to real estate investors, and are almost always secured by the underlying property being financed by such loans. These properties are primarily located in the markets served by Synovus. At December 31, 2018, 1-4 family properties loans declined to $679.9 million, or 10.4% of the total CRE loan portfolio, and 2.7% of the total loan portfolio, compared to $781.6 million, or 11.3% of the total CRE loan portfolio, and 3.1% of the total loan portfolio at December 31, 2017.
Land and Development
Land and development loans include commercial and residential development as well as land acquisition loans and are secured by land held for future development, typically in excess of one year. Properties securing these loans are substantially within markets served by Synovus, and loan terms generally include personal guarantees from the principals. Loans in this portfolio are underwritten based on the LTV of the collateral and the capacity of the guarantor(s). Land and development loans were $323.7 million at December 31, 2018, or 4.9% of the total CRE loan portfolio and 1.2% of the total loan portfolio compared to $483.6 million at December 31, 2017, or 6.9% of the CRE loan portfolio and 2.0% of the total loan portfolio. Land and development loans declined $159.9 million from December 31, 2017 as Synovus continues to strategically reduce its exposure to these types of loans.
Consumer Loans
The consumer loan portfolio consists of a wide variety of loan products offered through Synovus' banking network as well as third-party lending partnerships, including first and second residential mortgages, home equity lines, credit card loans, home improvement loans, student loans, and other consumer loans. The majority of Synovus' consumer loans are consumer mortgages and home equity lines secured by first and second liens on residential real estate primarily located in the markets served by Synovus. Total consumer loans as of December 31, 2018 were $6.63 billion, or 25.5% of the total loan portfolio compared to $5.85 billion, or 23.5% of the total loan portfolio at December 31, 2017. Total consumer loans increased by $771.2 million, or 13.2%, from December 31, 2017. Consumer mortgages grew $300.7 million or 11.4% from 2017 to $2.93 billion primarily due to continued recruiting of mortgage loan originators in strategic markets throughout the footprint as well as enhanced origination efforts, which also create additional cross-selling opportunities for other products. Credit card loans totaled $258.2 million at December 31, 2018 compared to $232.7 million at December 31, 2017.
Other consumer loans increased $443.3 million, or 30.1%, to $1.92 billion at December 31, 2018, primarily due to consumer-based lending partnerships. As of December 31, 2018, these partnerships had combined balances of $1.57 billion, up from $1.14 billion at December 31, 2017.
Consumer loans are subject to uniform lending policies and consist primarily of loans with strong borrower credit scores. Synovus makes consumer lending decisions based upon a number of key credit risk determinants including FICO scores as well as loan-to-value and debt-to-income ratios. Risk levels 1-6 (descending) are assigned to consumer loans based upon a risk score matrix. At least annually, the consumer loan portfolio is sent to a consumer credit reporting agency for a refresh of customers' credit scores so that management can evaluate ongoing consistency or negative migration in the quality of the portfolio, which impacts the allowance for loan losses. Revolving lines of credit are reviewed for a material change in financial circumstances, and when appropriate, the line of credit may be suspended for further advances. FICO scores within the residential real estate portfolio have generally remained stable over the last several years. As of the most recent FICO score refresh as of December 31, 2018, weighted average FICO scores within the residential real estate portfolio were 772 for HELOCS and 786 for Consumer Mortgages as compared to 772 for HELOCS and 774 for Consumer Mortgages at December 31, 2017.

41



Higher-risk consumer loans as defined by the FDIC are consumer loans (excluding consumer loans defined as nontraditional mortgage loans) where, as of the origination date or, if the loan has been refinanced, as of the refinance date, the probability of default within two years is greater than 20%, as determined using a defined historical stress period. These loans are not a part of Synovus' consumer lending strategy, and Synovus does not currently develop or offer specific sub-prime, alt-A, no documentation or stated income residential real estate loan products. Synovus estimates that, as of December 31, 2018, it had $78.3 million of higher-risk consumer loans.
The following table shows the composition of the loan portfolio at December 31, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014.
Table 12 - Composition of Loan Portfolio
 
December 31,
 
2018
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
(dollars in thousands)
Amount
 
 %*
 
Amount
 
 %*
 
Amount
 
 %*
 
Amount
 
 %*
 
Amount
 
 %*
Commercial
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Commercial, financial, and agricultural
$
7,449,698

 
28.7
%
 
$
7,179,487

 
29.0
%
 
$
6,909,036

 
29.0
%
 
$
6,453,180

 
28.8
%
 
$
6,182,312

 
29.3
%
Owner-occupied
5,331,508

 
20.5

 
4,844,163

 
19.5

 
4,634,770

 
19.4

 
4,318,950

 
19.2

 
4,085,407

 
19.4

Real estate — construction
1,418,157

 
5.5

 
1,604,803

 
6.5

 
1,724,518

 
7.1

 
2,181,174

 
9.7

 
1,714,942

 
8.1

Real estate — mortgage
5,146,334

 
19.8

 
5,330,485

 
21.5

 
5,649,594

 
23.7

 
5,213,594

 
23.2

 
5,211,660

 
24.7

Total commercial
19,345,697

 
74.5

 
18,958,938

 
76.5

 
18,917,918

 
79.2

 
18,166,898

 
80.9

 
17,194,321

 
81.5

Consumer
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Real estate — mortgage
4,450,031

 
17.1

 
4,147,730

 
16.7

 
3,913,869

 
16.4

 
3,628,597

 
16.1

 
3,378,059

 
15.9

Consumer loans — credit cards
258,245

 
1.0

 
232,676

 
0.9

 
232,413

 
1.0

 
240,851

 
1.1

 
253,649

 
1.2

Consumer loans — other
1,916,743

 
7.4

 
1,473,451

 
5.9

 
818,182

 
3.4

 
423,318

 
1.9

 
302,460

 
1.4

Total consumer
6,625,019

 
25.5

 
5,853,857

 
23.5

 
4,964,464

 
20.8

 
4,292,766

 
19.1

 
3,934,168

 
18.5

Total loans
25,970,716

 
 
 
24,812,795

 
 
 
23,882,382

 
 
 
22,459,664

 
 
 
21,128,489

 
 
Deferred fees and costs, net
(24,143
)
 
nm

 
(25,331
)
 
nm

 
(25,991
)
 
nm

 
(30,099
)
 
nm
 
(30,790
)
 
nm
Total loans, net of deferred fees and costs
$
25,946,573

 
100.0
%
 
$
24,787,464

 
100.0
%