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A sampling of our recent topics

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The new Earnings Model

The way banks create value in an evolving competitive landscape is changing. In this session, we explore the breakage in the banking business model and how those breaks can be fixed across critical lines of business, including commercial, retail, lending, and wealth management. We’ll also discuss how it all fits together strategically. Your takeaways: new metrics and a dashboard for thriving in the New Earnings Model.

Pardon the Interruption: The Bank of the Future

This fast-paced and candid session explores various components of what the bank of the future will look like, including the branch of the future, the impact of mobile payments, and the impact of fintech on the banking industry.

The Impact of Fintech on Community Banks: Moneymaker or Dealbreaker?

Faced with ever-increasing regulations, rapidly changing technology, and new players in the industry, what should community banks do to defend their positions and thrive in the new world of banking? This session examines Cornerstone’s no-nonsense framework for addressing the broad issues affecting banking’s changing business model.

Platformification as a New Business Model

The traditional banking business model is eroding, consumers demand a more comprehensive range of personal tools and services, and technology is advancing rapidly. So what? Much like Amazon changed retail’s business model, a perfect storm is blowing in financial services that will fundamentally change the industry’s business model. Banks and startups are shifting toward a state of platform fiction, a plug-and-play business model that allows multiple participants (producers and consumers) to connect to it and interact with one another to create and exchange value. In this session, expect the unexpected in terms of vigorous debate and discussion around the importance of platform fiction, what it takes to be a successful platform, how the evolution of platform fiction will unfold in financial services, and what it all means for your organization.

Results-Based Strategic Planning: Seven Secrets of Value-Creation

Explore what it takes to create a best-practice strategic vision. Learn best practices from financial institutions that got past the fuzzy stuff and mastered results-based execution in their strategic planning initiatives.

Strategic Planning is Broken

Looking out on an industry of increasing “sameness,” strategy for many financial institutions is broken. Get beyond objectives to tackle vision, business model, brand, and positioning. Learn how to look further than the annual economic forecast and SWOT analysis, dig deeper and get to the “why” and “how” of strategy. Walk away with fundamental concepts to guide strategic development based on competitive strengths.

Strategy in the Next Era of Banking

As banks navigate fast-paced changes in customer preferences and competition from new and disruptive players, effective strategic planning is more essential than ever. Explore how banks must think about strategic planning in this new era and the keys to execution success.

Strategic Measures Every Manager Should Know

Beyond financial ratios, managers should be familiar with a set of important measures in the areas of growth, profitability, efficiency, risk, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. These measures address performance and are leading indicators of future strength. You’ll learn best practices for improving ratios and how to assemble a working scorecard.

Growing in a Hyper-Competitive Environment

In their efforts to grow revenue, and especially non-interest income, community financial institutions’ focus has transitioned from economic and regulatory challenges to competitive and delivery resourcing challenges. In this session, we’ll explore emerging industry trends impacting revenue and take a deep dive into several revenue-related comparative benchmarks. We’ll also discuss innovations for ambitious revenue growth and explore several revenue-expanding best practices.

How to Write a Strategic Plan

Strategic planning in most financial institutions is broken as historical methods of assessing and updating strategic plans every three to five years are now dinosaurs. Strong strategic planning will position the organization to quickly drive change in those areas critical to staying relevant and winning in a rapidly changing marketplace. Whether building overall financial institution Strategic Plans, Delivery Channel Plans Technology Plans, or even more strategic Marketing Plans, the process now requires a well-thought approach to drafting that identifies clear and compelling statements of intent coupled with organizational buy-in to execute faster and better than competitors.

Attendees will walk away from this session understanding:

  • Why most plans are broken and how to fix them
  • Environmental realities that all plans must consider and address
  • How to define the big bets and establish organizational focus
  • Keys to planning that separate winners from losers
  • Best practices for keeping plans current and adapting to change



High Performance


Engineering Over Energy

While financial institutions have historically pursued leadership through the energy of their lenders and managers, client expectations driven by competitors and new market entrants now demand a more sustainable, engineered approach. This session covers Cornerstone Advisors’ research and experiences from the trenches of our nationwide consulting work including engineering for revenue and competitive delivery, sizing and overcoming the addressable compliance burden, addressing the pervasiveness of tech outside of I.T., improving responsiveness, and best practices of top performers.

Efficient Instead of Busy

Operational excellence drives customer satisfaction, closes the competitive cost gap, and strengthens an institution’s foundation for growth. Community financial institutions can drive their businesses forward to make it easier for customers to do business and enable teams to spend more time serving and uncovering new business and less time with back-office bottlenecks. Learn about standardizing and simplifying systems, automating processes, leveraging scale across the enterprise, optimizing capacity, and applying lean operational principles.

Benchmarking and Best Practices in Improving Retail Banking Performance

As the delivery of retail products and services rapidly evolves to new channels, banks must evolve the metrics used to evaluate performance as well. Examine which traditional performance metrics still have high importance and explore new metrics used to measure success in new channels.

Hitting Revenue Growth Out of the Park

Finding new sources of revenue is strategically important to financial institutions. Margin compression coupled with the downward pressure on debit interchange and overdraft income is forcing a re-think. While broad options seem clear – expansion through mergers and organic growth through product launches, customer acquisition initiatives, cross-sell, and retention/recapture efforts – results lie in execution details. Learn approaches to successfully grow revenue.

Getting Results from Improved Customer Experience and Engagement

Without proper focus, high customer satisfaction may not translate into growth, performance, and customer share of wallet. In this session, financial institutions learn how to improve responsiveness, training, competitiveness, and other engagement efforts to exceed both customer and performance expectations. We share best practices and concepts that are fundamental to changing how financial institutions work.

A Guided Tour of the Best Practice Bank

While the concept of “best practices” is widely used in banking today, many banks struggle to translate the idea into concrete goals and action plans.  Explore a sampling of the best practices Cornerstone has observed in working with hundreds of financial institutions over the past decade. Also covered is a methodology for developing a scorecard, finding and using industry peer data, and identifying characteristics of high performers.

Leveraging Benchmarking: Improving Performance by Developing a Metric-Based Culture

In this session, we discuss the importance of benchmarks in managing performance and resource allocations. Participants learn the Laws of High Performance and why they are important to future success. Examples of peer benchmarking data from around the country are shared.

Best Practices in Performance Improvement

Regardless of the environment, there is one constant: financial institutions are expected to be efficient, automated, fast, and nimble. Explore industry best practices in benchmarking and performance improvement, with a particular focus concentration for best results, when to use peer vs. internal benchmarks, differentiating between cost reduction and growth-enabling changes, and how to tie initiatives back to key strategic goals.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Merger & Acquisition Value Done Right

Successful mergers and acquisitions involve making and keeping promises to key stakeholders. Explore where value can be added in the merger and acquisition life cycle to keep promises made. Learn best practices in assessing and valuing candidates, defining the Target Operating Model for Legal Day 1 and post-integration (including benchmarking and staffing), leading with technology roadmaps and planning for tech conversions, optimizing contracts, and scaling businesses. Walk away with a merger framework of key activities to achieve merger value.

Mergers: Making the Technology Work

From core processing to mobile and payment offerings, integrating two disparate sets of systems into one robust operating environment requires a frank assessment of where the business is today and the direction a combined entity might pursue. Explore what to consider and how to make the best decisions that incorporate costs & efficiency, customer/staff experience, and execution & operational risks. Walk away with industry best practices on executing a merger.


Contract Negotiations

Drawing Back the Curtain on Vendor Pricing Secrets: How to Adapt in Contract Negotiations

Discover how to uncover pricing secrets in an opaque bank vendor market. Examine market spending on technology and payments based on study findings from 60 financial institutions and reviews of thousands of provider contracts. Understand leverage and how to use it in contract negotiations. Walk away with contract negotiation tips and best practices in vendor management.

Building a Contract Negotiation Roadmap That Saves Money and Improves Results

Learn how to think of third-party technology agreements at a strategic level. Discover when to approach your vendor and how to value unsolicited offers. Learn about different types of third-party technology agreements and what types of contracts should be aligned versus not when in negotiations with industry providers.

Save Money and Get Better Results When Selecting and Negotiating with Different Types of Vendors

Discuss approaches to prepare for an upcoming termination date for one of your key third-party technology agreements. Learn techniques for deciding whether to issue a full request for proposal or stick with current solutions. And, find out how to get the best price and still get the functionality needed to compete in today’s market.

Fund Innovation Through Contract Negotiations

Drive new efficiencies from mature initiatives and fund innovative new products and programs. Explore an all-star playbook with a skilled offense to boost the bottom line or re-direct into innovation. Learn from an expert who negotiates over 200 provider contracts on behalf of financial institutions each year. Learn where the opportunities are and how leaders are pursuing improvements.


Vendor Management

Vendor Performance Management: The New Mandate

Vendor management scrutiny from regulators and auditors continues to rise, and boards are increasingly asking hard questions about solution providers. Beyond vendor risk, boards and executive teams expect answers to questions about the costs and benefits of your vendor relationships. Learn how to build a vendor performance management program that satisfies examiners’ need for vendor risk management and drives ROI with vendor spending. Experiences and research provided are from Cornerstone Advisors’ nationwide consulting practice of hundreds of financial institutions. Walk away with results from a spending study of 60 banks and learn approaches to evaluation, governance, measurement, and reporting.

Leading Vendor Management to Fund Innovation

Financial institutions are faced with the dual task of controlling expenses while at the same time investing in new, innovative offerings. This is requiring a new approach to vendor management that moves spending from mature, commoditized services to new services that can help re-invent customer delivery, support, and payments. In this session, we discuss vendor management strategies that will help financial institutions accomplish this shift.



Engineering Over Energy

While financial institutions have historically pursued leadership through the energy of their lenders, client expectations driven by competitors and new market entrants now demand a more sustainable, engineered approach. This session covers Cornerstone Advisors’ research and experiences from the trenches of our nationwide consulting work including engineering for revenue and competitive delivery, sizing and overcoming the addressable compliance burden, addressing the pervasiveness of tech outside of I.T., improving loan turnaround time, and best practices of top performers.

Business Services: Expanding the Right Way

As financial institutions have ventured into business services and business lending over the past decade, their focus has often been more on larger commercial real estate transactions than on small business relationships. Learn the new playbook for developing services for small business customers and growing these relationships. Included is a discussion of product offerings, pricing strategies, delivery channels, and internal staffing requirements to make business services a strong contributor.

Making Mortgage a Relationship Product

Healthy community institutions face an incredible strategic opportunity to gain market share in the mortgage business. Learn how to acquire and deepen retail banking relationships using a mortgage as an anchor product. This session presents best practice strategies for integrating the mortgage business into the organization’s overall retail relationship banking strategy including marketing and originator accountability.

CRM Best Practices in Lending

Client relationship management systems have become one of the most effective methods of tracking interactions between financial institutions and their customers. CRM can help to maximize sales and profit using analytics and key performance indicators that optimize your marketing and customer service strategies. Understand the strategic perspective on the implementation of CRM systems, complete with best practices, pitfalls, and performance metrics.

Lending and Technology

Despite years of talk about automated “lender workbenches,” the commercial lending process is still very fragmented, paper-intensive, and poorly leveraged. It’s time for lenders to get serious about reinventing their shops with new technology. This discussion focuses on how technology has changed the lending function, particularly in the commercial lending area. New technologies, players, and best practices are discussed, and in-depth guidance is provided for financial institutions attempting to prioritize and justify these investments. Scorecards are introduced that enable an institution to judge how effectively its technology is working.



Managing Payments as a Line of Business

This session examines how much payment revenue contributes to bottom lines and discusses how managers can analyze and treat the payments area as a line of business even if it is not one on the organizational chart.

The Payments Revenue Playbook

The payments landscape is changing rapidly with many new players and disruptors entering the industry. In this session, we explain how to create a playbook that leads to continued payments revenue and future relationship growth.

Building a Payments Scorecard

What specific income, expense, adoption, and usage drivers should be measured and incorporated into a monthly payments scorecard? We explore options, and participants take away a sample payments scorecard plus industry best practices.

Using the Payments Scorecard to Increase Profitability

The changing payments landscape is requiring financial institution executives to manage both their payments revenues and expenses in a more disciplined fashion. Learn how to profitably manage today’s payment streams to free up investment dollars and begin planning for the next generation of payment offerings.

The Payments Landscape in 2023

This session examines several payment trends, including customer behavior, new payment entrants, and merchant strategies. We look at how these trends affect current payments revenue/volume and what financial institutions can do to prepare for the changes.

Organizing to Manage Payments

What skills and knowledge are required in an institution’s payments area? What manager position(s) need to be created? Where would key functions report? This session examines key organizational strategies to manage payments, with takeaways including a responsibility matrix and suggested org chart.


Delivery Channels & Marketing

The New Branch Imperative – Taking the hard actions to ensure the survival

With growing revenue, customer experience, and efficiency top-of-mind and teller transaction volumes in perpetual decline, it’s time to re-think and address branch performance challenges. Examine ways to assess branch performance, develop strategies, and make the tough choices necessary to improve branch network performance. This session looks at everything from how to judge performance to new business models to rationalization of networks and everything in between.  COVID-19 has accelerated the need for transformation now more than ever.

Getting a Grip on Delivery Channel Integration

With efficiency pressures and shifts in customer behavior, financial institutions are increasingly focused on innovation and customer experience in their delivery channels. Best practice institutions are seeking ways to optimize their investments in delivery channels while creating a more integrated customer experience that is supported by advanced technological and marketing capabilities. In this session, we discuss ways to develop an integrated delivery channel plan that benchmarks and analyzes the organization’s delivery channel capabilities and identifies strategic opportunities as well as performance gaps.

Driving Successful Digital Transformation in a Post-COVID World

Customers are embracing digital banking offerings now more than ever as COVID has accelerated the trends in behavioral change more rapidly than anyone could have anticipated.  Knowing that the “new normal” must be different, learn the keys to successfully driving the digital transformation needed to support continued growth aspirations in payments and banking. Topics explored will include Keys to creating integrated experiences across digital platforms, the impact of digital banking and payments convergence, technology requirements and best practices to meet customer expectations, talent needed to support the change, key outcomes for judging success, and how to create and manage effective roadmaps.  Digital effectiveness is today’s must-have currency.

Modern Financial Marketing: Essential Survival Skills

Examine how marketers, always striving to provide value internally, can eliminate friction by aligning marketing efforts with the objectives, priorities, and concerns of other constituents. Learn how to effectively engage CEOs and CFOs and shift marketing from a fuzzy cost center to an accountable revenue center. Walk away with leadership skills and tools for the digital era, including a sample new marketing/delivery scorecard.

Client Relationship Management Reality Check

Explore the key drivers of the industry’s renewed interest in CRM as customer centricity gets decoupled from the Core Banking system.  Discuss a strategic execution framework that sets the stage and keeps CRM expectations and execution in check. Explore the business model impact, key enabling systems, customer experience, and process improvement drivers. Understand key system components and how to lead those capabilities. Walk away with strategies to overcome the 6 Key Pitfalls of CRM.

Turning Digital Banking Into a Marketing Growth Engine Machine

The industry can no longer count on face-to-face interactions to drive customer dialogue.   Digital banking must transition from predominantly transaction-focused to a cornerstone of revenue generation.  This session will explore how to drive relevant customer offers with strong marketing analytics and insights and how to evolve digital delivery when and where it makes the most sense.    We’ll also explore how to know when digital banking has become the marketing growth engine that will separate a winner from the pack. You will walk away from this session understanding: The impact and the “how to” of integrating analytic insights with digital delivery; How to assess how “future ready” the financial institution is for marketing and digital banking; Best practices in managing the digital ecosystem as a revenue-based business and; Realistic ways to close any gaps and make a successful transition to a digital-first business


Risk Management

Practical Risk Management for Financial Institutions

High-performing financial institutions are those that have embraced and learned to effectively manage risk. In this interactive session, participants discuss key risk issues facing financial institutions and take away practical, effective methods and systems for establishing a successful enterprise risk management program, including assessment and management of risk, monitoring and reporting, establishing roles and responsibilities, and integrating efficiently into business planning processes.

Managing Risk Without Breaking the Bank: A Benchmarking Update

New regulations are forever heading our way, preparing to kick us where it counts. Move past the “regulations are burdensome” hand-wringing and explore how banks can more efficiently and effectively absorb new compliance mandates without soaking up all the earnings. We share insights from our benchmarking research and regulatory studies and findings from our work helping banks organize, staff, and create enterprise risk cultures.

Taking the Stress Out of Stress Testing

Financial institutions that want to thrive in a post-crisis setting need to be able to effectively forecast the results of business decisions and circumstances in an uncertain environment. Learn current methods of forecasting funding needs, stressing the institution’s liquidity, identifying potential areas of credit weakness, estimating loss reserve requirements, assessing payment strength, and evaluating the adequacy of capital based on possible future outcomes.

Managing Information Security Risks

New technologies provide both benefits and threats to financial institutions. Regulators require financial institutions to evaluate these risks and deploy comprehensive information security programs. Hear about today’s key risk information security issues and learn how to establish an effective information security risk management program, including how to classify systems, identify threats to systems, establish policies, and ensure oversight. Examples highlight a best practice third-party risk management program and business continuity plan.

Managing Credit Risk

Managing credit risk effectively can be the difference between a financial institution surviving or thriving. In this session, senior management and directors learn about “best practice” techniques for monitoring and managing credit risk. Participants learn how to effectively establish the financial institution’s credit risk “appetite”; structure and an effective credit risk management organization; develop comprehensive lending policies; control the loan origination process; monitor compliance with policy and regulatory guidelines; monitor the quality of the loan portfolio using stress testing, loan review, and other techniques; manage problem credits and workouts; and establish and maintain the allowance for loan and lease losses.

10 Steps to an Effective Business Continuity Plan

From earthquakes and hurricanes to fires and floods, financial institutions have experienced them all. Those that were prepared survived, managed the recovery cost-effectively, and enhanced their reputation with customers. Learn the 10 critical steps to success. Learn how to organize the planning, execution, and business recovery effort, identify and mitigate threats to the financial institution’s operations, provide appropriate backup, document and test the disaster response plan, and manage the financial institution’s recovery.

Barbarians at the Gate! Preparing for the Next Regulatory Visit

Learn about the latest regulatory “hot buttons” and practical methods to prepare for them now. Also, learn best practices for evaluating and preparing for areas of regulatory attention and specific actions bankers can take before and between regulatory visits. Walk away knowing how to maximize the strategic and tactical bottom-line improvement opportunities that regulatory visits can create. Included are practical compliance policy templates and risk assessment tools.

Enterprise Risk Management: The Director’s Role

Learn risk management fundamentals and walk away with increased confidence in your ability to play an effective part in the risk management process. Topics covered include the current risk environment, strategic decision-making, and its risk implications, determining the financial institution’s risk appetite, establishing risk tolerance guidelines, and keys to evaluating, controlling, and monitoring risk across categories outlined by regulators. We share case studies that highlight risk decisions and resulting consequences.

Modern Financial Marketing: Essential Survival Skills

Examine how marketers, always striving to provide value internally, can eliminate friction by aligning marketing efforts with the objectives, priorities, and concerns of other constituents. Learn how to effectively engage CEOs and CFOs and shift marketing from a fuzzy cost center to an accountable revenue center. Walk away with leadership skills and tools for the digital era, including a sample new marketing/delivery scorecard.

BSA/AML Risk Management Best Practices

Learn how institutions your size are managing their anti-money laundering teams, transaction monitoring systems, and regulatory reviews to keep out of trouble. Topics covered include how to organize your team for alert/case management, CTR reporting, SAR reporting, and Due Diligence activities.  We share the major providers in this space and new technology including how machine learning, is impacting false positives and workflows for BSA staff. Benchmarking of similar-sized institutions is part of the discussion.

Fraud Risk Management Best Practices

Learn how institutions your size are managing their fraud programs including detection, mitigation, and dispute management. Topics covered include a landscape of the fraud providers, a review of the current fraud trends, an understanding of the latest fraud schemes, and the math behind whether to outsource or process disputes in-house.


Technology & Operations

How to Reduce Tech Spend in 2023

Tech spending is typically one of the financial institutions’ largest non-interest expenses, and with COVID-related pressures on earnings, executives need to find opportunities to realize technology cost savings quickly. So how can you quickly reduce tech spending without impacting customers? And how do you find those opportunities when CIOs don’t control all of that spending or have time to review spending for savings opportunities?

Three Keys to Maximize Your Tech Spending in 2023

Next year is set up to be challenging. Project requests from your lines of business are at an all-time high, as they seek continued improvements in digital, LOS, analytics, marketing automation, fraud, etc. At the same time, you have your project list of infrastructure transformation and wish list items, including info sec., data loss prevention, RPA, etc. You also must be ready to slow things down if the economy softens and your CFO tightens spending.  Key questions need to be answered: How to prioritize projects with the highest ROI; Important tech spending benchmarks – what you should measure and how you compare; Using vendor contract negotiations to fund strategic initiatives; Where to spend your limited R&D dollars; and How to slump proof your technology if you have to tighten your spend.