SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Feb. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Management consulting firm Cornerstone Advisors announced significant firm growth in 2017, reflected in 90 new clients, the addition of 20 new team members, and numerous other initiatives in response to major industry trends.
"The trends Cornerstone Advisors saw in 2017 were echoed in our bank and credit union clients' discussions," said Scott Sommer, Cornerstone Advisors Chief Executive Officer. "We have no doubt that a 50% year-over-year increase in new clients is attributable, in large part, to the industry focus we have witnessed in three major banking areas: commercial lending, payments and vendor management."
As a result, Sommer said, the firm has been actively recruiting experts to provide its clients with the "best possible guidance on these top-of-mind issues."
In a recent survey of 262 community-based financial institutions conducted by Cornerstone Advisors, 86% of bank CEOs cited commercial loans as their top growth priority for 2018. "Based on what we've heard in conversations with clients, this doesn't surprise us," Sommer said, "and to directly address this need, Cornerstone named Joel Pruis, a commercial lending expert specializing in performance improvement, as a practice area leader."
On the payments front, Cornerstone learned in its 2017 Performance Report study of mid-size banks that debit and credit card transactions are down and fee income from cards is commoditizing. The study also showed that ATM income dipped 6% from 2015. "Here, too, we anticipated a need," Sommer observed, and the company hired Tony DeSanctis, a veteran banking cards and payments expert, to head up its Payments Solutions practice. "Banks that don't actively manage payments growth can expect a 1-3% decline in payments income in 2018," warns DeSanctis.
Another area that Cornerstone predicts will be big for financial institutions in 2018 is vendor management. "We understand the value of helping our clients mitigate risk, improve performance, and reduce costs when it comes to their vendors," Sommer said. "In 2017, Vendor ImpactTM was born, and we promoted Nick Lane to head up this new service area."
To address the battle of pricing transparency that FIs fight in their vendor contracts, Cornerstone recruited two additional negotiation experts in 2017. "Brian Hagan's background with a major technology vendor and his track record for cost reductions is a major asset to Cornerstone's Contract Negotiation services," Sommer stated. "And Michael Watkins' specialty experience in telecom/ATMs addresses needs from both the payments and the contracts side."
Cornerstone also enhanced its research offerings to provide clients with resources to help them make strategic decisions in response to industry trends. In 2017, Cornerstone launched Insight Vault, a digital platform that draws on the firm's exclusive research. In addition, Cornerstone hosts a variety of bank and credit union executive round tables each year and recently published the 2017 Cornerstone Performance Report for Banks, the latest in a series of benchmarking studies.
Founded in 2002, Cornerstone Advisors, a management consulting firm focused exclusively on mid-size banks and larger credit unions, provides an array of customized solutions designed to assist financial institutions with their Strategy, Performance, Technology, Contracts, Payments, Risk Management and Delivery Channel initiatives.
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SOURCE Cornerstone Advisors