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Stronger Together

Experience | Resources | Methodologies | Relationships


About the Acquisition

On December 2, 2021, management and technology consulting firm Cornerstone Advisors acquired Next Step. The new partnership means enhanced advisory services and growth opportunities for both firms. Our combined experience, relationships, methodologies, and resources position banks and credit unions for success.

Next Step’s processes and methodologies will be a distinct offering of Cornerstone. This strategic partnership will provide clients with an unparalleled level of service as the combined firm delivers on its vision of helping financial institutions provide superior services to their customers/members.

About Next Step

Since 1995, Next Step has provided complete core, digital banking, and key ancillary system selection, contract negotiations, conversion management, and process improvement services for growing financial institutions. With the acquisition by Cornerstone, Next Step’s processes, methodologies, and consultants will continue to help customer-focused banks and credit unions not only select the right system but also achieve the best vendor agreement, an outstanding conversion, immediate positive customer impact, and the greatest efficiency from the new technology.

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Next Step Services

Next Step’s services and supporting processes and methodologies are a key asset of the acquisition by Cornerstone. As a joint company, the goal is to provide objectivity and methodologies that produce the absolute best results for financial institutions. The corporate vision has always been to focus solely on the best interest of our clients.

You can count on a team of seasoned professionals to deliver Next Step’s industry-leading banking technology consulting and project management services to transform how your financial institution works and accomplish your technology objectives.

Next Step’s full suite of specialized services include:

Strategic Technology Assessments

Knowing how your systems are enabling or impeding you is crucial. Next Step’s Strategic Technology Assessment delivers clear insight into whether your systems are aligned with your strategic drivers. It includes a comprehensive review across all lines of business and key systems, including:

  • Core
  • Digital banking
  • Financial/accounting
  • Loan and account origination
  • ATM/debit/credit card
  • Other supporting systems


Vendor/System Evaluations & Selections

Next Step's Vendor Evaluation Process takes a comprehensive approach that arms your team with the right information to understand at a detailed level which solution is best for your business now and into the future. The service is tailored for every client and includes:

  • RFP development based on industry best practices and your unique needs
  • Identification of preferred vendors
  • Content of system demonstrations
  • Reference reviews
  • Functionality scoring and gap analysis
  • Decision facilitation
  • Conversion preparations and planning

Vendor Contract Negotiations

Working as a partner with your executive team and counsel, Next Step coordinates, facilitates, and negotiates the entire technology vendor contracts process and supporting pricing analysis. In doing so, we ensure your new vendor contracts are comprehensive, include the best possible pricing, and manage the risks to your institution. Examples of the types of contracts we negotiate include:

  • Core
  • Digital banking
  • Financial/accounting
  • Loan and account origination
  • ATM/debit/credit card
  • Other supporting systems

Conversion Management

Next Step’s conversion management experts provide strong leadership, ensuring you avoid the typical pitfalls that jeopardize conversions in this industry. Our specialists serve as the overall project and risk managers for your team’s responsibilities and fill the key role of liaison with the new technology vendor(s). Next Step’s 11-point risk management methodology complements and integrates with the new vendor’s approach, securing a timely and very successful conversion first day live! Customer/member impact is always consideration #1 with every decision.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Next Step provides project and risk management services for bank and credit union acquisitions, including mergers of equal-sized financial institutions, ensuring a high level of success first day live! Our approach helps you identify the risks involved in getting two organizations on disparate systems to make the right decisions during the transition and mitigate the negative impact to your customers/members and bottom line. With proven tools and processes, we get the business units of both organizations working on:

  • Product consolidation/mapping
  • Process review
  • Operational integration and standardization
  • Systems integration
  • Customer/member transition

Process Improvement

Through high-impact process improvement, Next Step helps you leverage the new technology investments and address your most significant process needs during the system evaluation/selection phase through the conversion and implementation phase. This service is performed with the active participation of the core system vendor and representatives from each area of the institution.

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