A collection of observations, ruminations, predictions and random thoughts from Cornerstone Advisors.

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January 19, 2017 by Sam Kilmer Sam Kilmer

Slow Times at Ridgemont: Three Questions About Traffic Change

Happy New Year, GonzoBankers!

I can’t take credit for starting a trend when I chose to spend more time with family and less at shopping malls this holiday season, but apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

Holiday retail sales reports show declines and announced store closures by Macy’s, JC Penney, Sears and even retail value darling Kohl’s. Best Buy continues to reduce locations and, in some cases, is merging its Best Buy presence inside of a declining list of Macy’s locations. Consolidating inside another consolidator. See a pattern here?

News flash: Amazon is on pace to eclipse Macy’s in 2017 as America’s #1 clothing merchant.

“Siri, please get with Alexa and have a book shipped to me on the decline of physical retail. Wait, just make that an audio book on demand.”

At first, this retail shift under way may sound like nothing new. Several shopping malls have closed in slower growth areas of the country over the years. The days of Mike Damone and Mark Ratner at the mall picking up some Cheap Trick vinyl and talking up Stacy Hamilton and Linda Barrett at the pizzeria are like ancient cultural anthropology. (Author’s note: The fictional Ridgemont Mall from the movie Fast Times AKA Sherman Oaks Mall redeveloped a decade ago into a mixed-use property of mainly offices and restaurants.)

But there is something new and different happening here. This isn’t just clothing sales redirecting to call center and digital. It’s not just malls or the ride-sharing future impact on automobile ownership. And, it’s not just the rise of work-from-home. It’s a cumulative tipping point about where we go, traffic patterns, and convenience.

Amazon can ship clothes, but you have to go out for fresh food or a pint of craft beer, right? Well no, actually. Nation’s Restaurant News recently reported restaurant same store sales dipped 2.4% in 2016 and the trend line has been consistently down. And while unemployment data is debatable, this decline is happening during an economy with real median household income rising by significant percentages over the past couple of years. As Nation’s Restaurant News put it, “Consumers are simply not going out to restaurants like they once did.”

Beyond economics, consumers are changing where and why they commute. So what? This shift is impacting banking in three major ways.

1. Loan Concentration

Morningstar reports that more than one-third of all securitized mall loans has exposure to Macy’s, JC Penney and Sears, while another third is exposed to two of the three anchors. Forbes points out that $48.6 billion worth of loans are backed by regional malls, and the loss of a mall anchor store can trigger a co-tenancy clause.

It might be easy to dismiss this trend by noting that leading retail property developer Simon isn’t closing locations. But, as with any portfolio manager, Simon spins off and sells less desirable locations to another company, which very likely will shutter a chunk of properties.

The first question somebody in the bank needs to be able to answer: How are the bank’s loan portfolio, existing pipeline and client revenue concentrated in ways impacted by changes in physical retail traffic?

2. Convenience Value Proposition

Beyond the decline in existing bank branch interactions (covered in detail in the Cornerstone Performance Report), it’s important for somebody to understand how the branch and ATM networks are impacted by changing traffic patterns.

The second question somebody in the bank needs to be able to answer: How is the bank’s delivery model dependent on branch interactions for revenue growth?

3. Visibility & Accessibility

As traffic patterns change, another area to understand is branding visibility and opportunities to encounter potential customers.

The third question somebody in the bank needs to be able to answer: How can the bank get its message to where the traffic is?

A couple top-of-mind examples:

  • Mary Wisniewski’s report at American Banker of Umpqua Bank’s use of a traveling art exhibit
  • CenterState’s Chris Nichols’ blog on the use of targeted trade shows to gain visibility with the right mix of niche audiences

Both examples appear to have measurable business generation, but do they always work? To quote Fast Times philosopher Jeff Spicoli, “I don’t know.” Many are still testing and learning. But, it’s great to see creative approaches to taking the message to the people.

No, the sky isn’t falling for bankers over what used to be Ridgemont Mall. Many bankers have adjusted delivery strategies, marketing mix and performance scorecards to thrive. But, even for the high performers, it’s good to stay restless.

Whether to a store, restaurant, or your own front door – safe travels in 2017.


Author’s Note: I’d love to see comments of approaches that you have seen work. I have a Gonzo t-shirt for the first two commenters with great ideas. And since this blog is about traffic change, there’s no need for pickup at Gonzo HQ in Scottsdale. We’ll ship your shirt straight to your doorstep.


Filed under: Branch Sales & Service, Cards & Payments, Retail Banking, Small Business Banking, Strategy, Web & Mobile Banking

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January 4, 2017 by Terence Roche Terence Roche

Straight from the Front Line: 2017 Payments Insights for the ‘C’ Level

“I had an unfortunate misunderstanding at the store today. It seems that when the cashier said ‘strip down, facing me’ she meant my credit card.”


Navigating the payments ecosystem is no easy job, and GonzoBanker salutes the bank and credit union professionals who can translate the world of payments into pragmatic strategies at their institutions.

Every year, the team at Cornerstone Advisors hosts a two-day roundtable for payments managers. This year, a few major themes emerged as we sat in with this group of smart, interesting people. These are not necessarily the big-picture things you’ll hear from the pundits, the observers or the vendors. But it is the point of view of the team that crawls in the trenches and slugs it out every day. So, boards and C-level execs – we are passing along some of their insights here with the goal of recruiting your support for their ideas and initiatives.

Insight #1: For all the talk about blockchain et al, this is a Visa/MasterCard “rails” world for the next two to three years.

MCX was the perceived threat to bypass Visa/MC and crush financial institutions’ interchange revenue. Man, what a lesson in “big corporations that can’t get their act together” that was. (Our roundtable groups went against conventional wisdom and called this one right two years ago, by the way.) Bitcoin is a fascinating technology story that could completely change the payments landscape down the road, but the earliest date a commercially viable application could hit the banking industry with real impact is likely several years away.

SO WHAT? On the good news front, there will by all estimates be steady growth in both debit and credit transactions. Not eye-popping, but solid. So, Visa and MasterCard are the “rails” for transaction routing for the near-term, and their interests align with yours. Let’s exploit this and manage that relationship actively.

Insight #2: Growing the credit card portfolio is a strategic priority, and cards are gettable.

The top 10 credit card issuers own 85%-90% of the market. Forty percent of credit card holders are sweating, panting rewards junkies that are tied to their current cards like they’ve been hot-glued to their recliners. But here’s the thing: there are 420 million credit cards issued in the United States. Your offers, rewards programs, and customer loyalty combined can get you a share of this market.

My colleague Michelle Shoop has done detailed analyses of how a bank can grow a credit card portfolio, even from scratch, and be profitable in a very acceptable period of time. Your payments leaders aren’t the slightest bit cowed by the top 10 issuers – they want to take them on.

SO WHAT? The “C” level is looking at a great product, a relationship growth opportunity, and a smart team that can execute. Put some focus on this.

Insight #3: Payments has morphed from a growth business to a margin business, and margin is compressing.

Walmart’s 2016 punch in the nose to Visa was to stop accepting Visa in some stores in Canada. Kroger and Visa are in court over Kroger pushing PIN versus signature debit. PIN-less debit has made a big dent in sig interchange. All these things add up, piece by piece, and this is without Walmart or another merchant trying some route to bypass Visa and MasterCard altogether.

For every dollar you made in 2013 from debit interchange, how much did you make in 2016 for the same transaction volume? Probably $.90-$.94. How visible was this compression at your bank? Probably not enough, and merchants are hard on the task of reducing it more.

SO WHAT? For several years, rapid growth of transactions solved everything because total revenue increased even if incremental per-transaction revenue didn’t. Those days are largely over. You manage interest rate risk well. You manage net interest margin well. You need to take those skills and start managing debit margin/revenue compression with the same skill level.

Insight #4: EMV conversion is a hot mess.

Nobody thought it would be this hard. Cards were in shortage and nobody knew which merchants had upgraded hardware. And, card reissues are just plain painful. As if all this weren’t bad enough, the big issue behind doing EMV was fraud reduction, and the first thing your teams had to deal with was MORE FRAUD. Ugh.

SO WHAT? If you have not been debriefed about fallback transactions and fraud, get an update from your expert. The reality is that you are going to see some unexpected fraud early on. That’s life, and your teams are on it.

(Has it occurred to anybody else that if these fraudsters focused their talent and energy on doing something productive we’d all probably be driving cars powered by air and beer would be good for us?)

Insight #5: Campaigns don’t have to be complicated but they have to be constant.

For all the talk about rewards, there was a lot of focus in our meetings on campaigns to get usage up. Nothing complicated here, folks – send something to people who stopped using their debit card in the last 90 days. Give incentives to people who typically use their debit cards fewer than five times a month if they use them 15 times.

SO WHAT? This is pretty basic, bare-knuckled marketing that even a fast-deteriorating ’60s hippie like me can understand.  And they do work. The results are clear and they are indisputable. But these campaigns need to be run regularly, and they need to be focused. Make sure your team is on this.

Insight #6: There is a big gap between what the brands say they can support and what the core/IB/mobile vendors are rolling out.

We need to make this more transparent. Strong customer self-service capabilities are the ante in the payments arena now – card personalization, proactive alerts set by customers, card on-off tools, to name just a few. The top 10 issuers have good self-service tools, and you must match them. To do so, you need the brands, the networks, and your mobile/Internet banking/core vendor(s) working closely together to provide those capabilities.

Your payments leaders don’t think this is happening well enough. We agree. It does no good for, say, Visa or MasterCard to tell you, “You’ll have X capability as soon as your mobile banking vendor can support it.” Or if your mobile banking vendor says it’s ready as soon as it can get the information from the network/brand.

SO WHAT? We need to get the brands, the networks and your technology vendors in a room and understand exactly how they have all synced up their road maps to get you crucial capabilities now. We need to get on this. Hey, Cornerstone will even emcee the meetings.

Insight #7: We need new metrics, and the processors and networks need to give them to us.

Good information can help you see trends and act on them in a way that provides great customer products/experience and makes you as much money as possible.

SO WHAT? It’s time to have a discussion about what the senior team needs to know and who is going to provide it.

Payments is one of the most dynamic and interesting areas in all of the banking industry and it presents a great opportunity for community FIs to grow relationships and revenue.

Your payments leaders are smart, and they are ready to take on the big banks and card issuers. Give them the C-level support they need and turn them loose.



Non-interest income is more important today than it has ever been.
Credit and debit card interchange are key sources of revenue.
A Payments Growth Initiative from Cornerstone Advisors helps you:

  • Measure and manage your payments performance
  • Evaluate your credit and debit card programs against the market
  • Increase your competitive presence and maximize non-interest income

Contact us today to learn more.



Filed under: Cards & Payments, Marketing, Retail Banking, Strategy, Web & Mobile Banking

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December 19, 2016 by Gonzo Gonzo


What words describe 2016 GonzoBankers? Volatile … surprising … crazy … big league or bigly?

As the year draws to a close, there’s a theme resonating throughout the industry: tired and complacent financial institutions are being pushed around and torn apart. A deep mistrust is growing for anything that feels bureaucratic or obfuscated, and bankers stand at a crossroads as to where they may fall in this shakeout.

In the post-Wells-scandal world where the shift from people and bricks to machines and digital is getting very real, bankers are scrambling to build new generations of their businesses. We can’t bank on this near-term stock rally staying around forever. Instead we need to pay serious attention to how technology is changing strategy in our industry and develop gritty tactics to address this shift.

So it’s time to light a fire, grab a big tumbler of Scotch and rest up for a busy 2017 as you experience one of the holiday’s greatest traditions: the annual GonzoBanker Awards. We hope you enjoy our take on the good, the bad and the bigly of 2016.



The 2016 Headline That Will Give You a Headache – “Wells Fargo CEO Says the Ethics Hotline Was Mostly Ethical.” We got nothing here – this one stands on its own.

GonzoBanker of the Year – Larry Richman, CEO of the PrivateBancorp Bank. Since Richman and about 100 other bankers from LaSalle Bank in Chicago joined PrivateBancorp nearly a decade ago, the bank has grown to an $18 billion solid niche player with $10 billion in assets under management. Richman and his shareholders now must decide if their $3.8 billion offer made this year from CIBC is rich enough after the “Trump Rally.” Hats off to a decade of strong leadership and hard work.

Merger of the Year – Hope Bancorp. While this deal was announced late last year, the heavy lifting was done in 2016 as BBCN Bancorp and Wilshire Bancorp came together under a new brand to create the largest Korean American bank. Kudos to Hope CEO Kevin S. Kim, the executives and the boards of both organizations who put rivalry aside to gain scale in the new world of banking where differentiation matters and community can be more than geography.

The “Slo Mo” Merger Award – Goes to New York Community Bancorp for its glacial wait for approval of its proposed acquisition of Astoria Financial Corp. NYCB recently announced it would not receive approval in 2016 and may face a termination decision by either institution’s board under the merger agreement. Maybe a regulator was out sick or on maternity leave, but this is one crawling bureaucratic nightmare.

Mergerama Region of the Year – The Midwest: Huntington-First Merit, Chemical-Talmer, Old National-Anchor … the list goes on. Is it in the water? Or the need to take market share in a slowest growth region?

Acquisition of the Year – Guaranty Bank and Trust Company in Colorado for its acquisition of Home State Bank. A wonderful franchise and team picked up by Guaranty in-market at a decent price.

Sale of the Year – Scott Custer, Terry Earley and the gang at Yadkin Bank for their successful sale to FNB Pennsylvania and the creation of a new regional power in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states. This was one fast ride to more than $7 billion in assets, including a recent merger with NewBridge bank, before a very respectable exit strategy for the shareholders. This industry is consolidating fast!

A “Get Your Act Together” Statistic if There Ever Was One – Non-banks will account for over half of mortgage production in 2016. It’s time for banks to focus hard on marketing and the borrower experience.

Handy Handout – Tinker Federal Credit Union branded jumper cables given to board members at its strategic planning retreat. Let’s energize this session!

Conference Panelist and Moderator Match-up of the Year – At BAI Beacon, moderator Robert Barba from American Banker asked clearly unexpected questions that challenged his panelists to the point of some declines-to-answer. Joe Reilly, CIO at Zions Bank, rose to the challenge and shared solid details about business change deriving from a system switch. Kudos to Reilly! Consolidating 13 loan processing centers into two and better integrated treasury is real change.

Agile Banking Quote of the Year – If something takes three years to build, it’s too late. The big bang project is over.” From Hancock Bank’s Jennifer Wilson at FIS Connect.

Be Careful What You Wish for Award – To all those Fintech providers that can now get an official bank charter to operate within the confines of simple regulatory requirements.

Best Free Market Research a Retail Banker Will Ever Get

The 2016 Gonzo Marketing Medal – Goes to Elevations Credit Union for its “Egg Lending” campaign. It’s funny, tongue-in-cheek and just plain different. Check it out on YouTube.

The Millenials as Funding Award Goes to Dime Community Bank for attracting press attention when it appealed to hipsters in Brooklyn as a means of funding its powerful commercial real estate niche. (see https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-01/this-is-how-a-banker-in-brooklyn-makes-money-on-millennials)

The FinTech Partner Best Practice Award – Goes to Cambridge Savings Bank and SigFig for their digital investment platform partnership. CSB was one of the first banks to offer roboadvising and partner with this startup out of San Francisco, which just announced another partnership with Wells Fargo. A Gonzo community bank being a leader and not a fast follower – that’s pretty cool!

Hippest Acquisition of the Year – First Republic Bank’s acquisition of student loan repayment fintech firm Gradifi. Fun to see a stellar private bank searching for new fee-based sources of revenue like this young upstart company.

A “Making a Difference” Nod – Goes to Sandy Dubois, executive secretary at People’s Utah Bancorp in American Fork, Utah, for her work in establishing “Project Teddy Bear.” Project Teddy Bear collects stuffed animals and gives them to at-risk children in Utah. Small things can make big differences.

Sabre Rattling Award for 2016 – Visa and Walmart. So, first Walmart says it will no longer accept Visa at some locations in Canada. Then, Visa puts an ad out in Manitoba offering $10 in free groceries to anybody who shops anywhere but Walmart. What’s next, rage in the cage, two CEOs, winner take all? And, not to detract from what is seriously good chest-puffing, but why is this all good for customers?

A Shout Out for a Gutsy Call Scott Reckard, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who first wrote about Wells Fargo’s branch pressure tactics in 2013. Reckard called it when everybody else didn’t and when it wasn’t so easy to get outraged. Well done. (see http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-wells-fargo-sale-pressure-20131222-story.html)



Technology of the Year Machine Learning. While there has been plenty of talk for years around big data, intelligence and analytics, pragmatic applications of machine learning in other industries has inspired a great deal of new funding and projects this year. Some will be cute and fail, but others will trigger the transformation of banking away from branches and people toward data, automated processes and digital apps.

“Whoa Horsey” Technology TrendChatbots. There are going to be plenty of useful applications for this hot natural language speech technology craze. USAA is finding drive-time banking to be a key example. However, we’ve gone from spotty Siri performance and playing with Amazon Alexa with our stereo system to Bank of America predicting its chatbot, Erica, will become customers’ new financial advisor. Let’s apply healthy skepticism to this craze in 2017.

Most Important Tech Challenge of 2017 – The urgent need to meld digital banking with digital marketing. The days of list-driven, monthly promotions are dead. But will bankers capture the opportunity to turn gritty customer interaction data into the next real revenue growth opportunity? Most won’t unless they get on the stick.

The “Whatever Happened To?” Award – MCX. The juggernaut that was going to change the payments landscape, the group that had banks fretting about payments disruption like no other, has produced nary a peep in 2016. The take-away? Maybe nobody can get that many retailers to agree on anything.

The Vanity is Alive Award – Goes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card that went gangbusters with millennials who were willing to pay a $450 annual fee for a metal travel card. Hats off to Chase for uncovering something that attracts millennials to the credit card product that most banks missed.

The Trends That Must Expire 12/31/16 Award – Goes to customer and member “experience” initiatives being birthed at banks and credit unions that are self-congratulatory yet have no beefy success metrics or any business case for how this will drive revenue. Sure, Amazon is experience-focused, but it also turned that focus into $100+ billion of revenue. This is how banks and credit unions need to start thinking.

Differentiation Valuation Award – To LinkedIn, for creating a network with differentiated value so unique in social selling, it drove a bidding match between Salesforce and Microsoft resulting in a $26B December sale to Microsoft. 8X revenue and 84X EBITDA for you GonzoBankers watching for actual earnings. Holy cow, that’s value. Let’s hope it’s just a coincidence that LinkedIn’s blue logo is the same color as Microsoft’s historic blue-screen-of-death.

Best Pragmatic Use of SalesForce SchoolsFirst Credit Union for its disciplined business development approach to engage its education-based field of membership. Good business development runs on client details and performance metrics, and SchoolsFirst executes well on both fronts.

Demand in Need of a Supply Online/mobile commercial loan origination.

The Digital Big Mo’ Award Goes to Kony for its continued growth in the digital tool set and platform space. Banks with enough scale want the ability to customize mobile apps and meld them into their work flows and customer experience. Kony has attracted both bank and analyst community credibility with its Mobility Platform. Big caveat emptor: developing custom apps means having the architecture, development talent and lifecycle discipline to stay out of trouble. Most banks are nowhere close to being able to execute on a toolkit like Kony today.

Lending Big Mo’ Award – Goes to nCino for nabbing a number of high profile banks this year including SunTrust, Regions and Eastern while gaining lots of partnership and analyst attention and praise. Great software solutions take time to bake but hats off to Pierre Naude and the rest of the team for provoking the industry to ponder the possibilities of a cloud-based operating system for critical banking processes.

Favorite Warm-and-Fuzzy Message from Your Local Store No chip reader.

Tough Sledding Award for 2016 – EMV conversion and implementation. Many issuers are scratching their heads and wondering why the heck they even did this. EMV is good for the long term, but kudos to the front-line people who had to make v1.0 work when there were many more problems than anybody thought.

The Elephant Dancing AwardGoes to Microsoft for regaining its mojo and credibility among techies in the corporate world. CEO Satya Nadella has turned out to be the right leader at the right time as the world’s largest tech giant has honed its cloud vision and opened its mind to an API-driven economy. Predictions of Linux, Oracle, Sun Microsystems toppling the desktop and server from ages ago – where are they now?

Gutsy Pitch Award CRM software solutions pointing to their sales audit trail of customer interest as a means to protect against regulatory scrutiny after the Wells fiasco. So the same tools that might have been used to pummel product at people can be used to protect against scrutiny for … pummeling product at people? What next? 100% self-service online account opening to protect against employee account opening fraud?



The Four Letters Worse than TRID for Mortgage Lenders AwardHMDA. Get ready for more painful software changes and mountains of new HMDA data reporting. Let’s hope bankers can keep evolving their mortgage business and borrower experiences among all this compliance chaos.

Regulatory “De-Clawing” AwardGoes to the CFPB. Consider Trump, Mnuchin and Sessions vs. what everyone expected in a Hilary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Loretta Lynch mob world. The CFPB won’t go away, but bankers are wishing this Christmas for a much less scary tiger in the years ahead.



Bank Implementation Deal of the Year TCS (Tata Consulting Services), for going live at Zions three years after signing. There have been lots of eyes on this one, and it’s clear the project has faced challenges but it’s a major step for a foreign-based core to gain this foothold.

Bank Signing of the Year – Temenos nabs $25 billion Commerce Bank for deposit servicing late in the year in what will be another multistage custom deployment effort. 

Credit Union Core Conversion of the YearGoes to Fiserv for its conversion of Space Coast Credit Union. Hairy project with tons of households and transactions executed well by both sides. Hats off to Fiserv to putting muscle and resources behind the DNA core product acquired from OSI in 2013.

Welcome Back Kotter Award Scott Happ, Sue Baker, and Bob Brandt … all of Mortgagebot fame and now with what appears to be big plans to take on the market at Optimal Blue.

Worst Quote from an Instant Issue Card Vendor in 2016 “We are not sure what the system will do after updates.” From an employee who works in development while on a call with the client and a Cornerstone consultant.

Nice Acquisition Pickups Award – goes to Fiserv, which bookended its 2016 with announced acquisitions of ACI Architect and OBS. You have to hand it to Fiserv here. It saw the need to beef up its digital capabilities and pulled the cash out of the big orange acquisition wallet to make it happen. These were really nice adds for Fiserv, but can Big Orange resist the temptation to destroy these products like it did with the Corillians and Banklinks of the past?



Golden Cuff Links Award – It’s a Tie!

  • Paul Drobot, Ellie Mae Encompass. Paul adeptly highlights system bells and whistles but can also get gritty on the technical details. And he doesn’t pass the buck on tough client questions. This year, Paul helped Ellie ink a deal with former Gonzo high performer Idaho Central, one of the highest producing credit union mortgage teams in the country.
  • Erica Jourdain, Fiserv Apperio Demo. Anybody who can weave Cookie Lyon (Empire, FOX) into the use cases requested by the prospect is truly creative. “Cookie just got released from prison and needs an account as a first step to getting her fair share of Empire. She has a co-signer so risk can be mitigated.” The use case was hilarious and informative, holding the client’s attention throughout what could have been a mind-numbing demo about account opening.

The Least Common Denominator Award – This one goes to the vendor presenter (you know who you are!) who shared lascivious selfies of himself/herself to some prospects – over dinner. It didn’t work, but you gotta applaud giving it the old college try.


  • During a demo when users were pointing out several shortcomings in the system, the presenter finally looked at them and said, “What you need to remember is that everything you’re bringing up is really just a simple matter of programming.” Uhhh huhhhh. He got stares from about 40 people who all were wondering if he realized that they had just decided not to buy his system.
  • Vendor: “You will have lights-out integration with [product name] because [product name] is a [big company name] company. We’re family!”
    CU: “So how did you handle the outage a couple weeks ago where clients couldn’t access [product name] for a week?”
    Vendor: “What outage?”
  • [During a 60-minute conference call demo session] “Our system demo usually takes four days …” [Dog in the background immediately starts barking.]
  • “Alexa, what’s the balance in my checking account?” [Crickets chirping. No response. Repeat question and answer multiple times.]
  • “If you open the background materials, let’s discuss our clients here in your state …” [Prospect is in New England, all references provided are in the Mid-Atlantic.]
  • Loud burp right in the middle of the presentation. [No apology. No acknowledgement. Just a pause for the burp.]
  • Question [after a one-hour core system presentation]: “Does your company have a core system product?”
    Answer: “Let me get back to you on that.”
  • Banker: “Do you offer instructions on how to best use your company’s training extranet?”
    Vendor: “Yes, of course.”
    B: “Where would I find that?”
    V: “On the training extranet.”
  • Banker: “The items you just described on your development roadmap are already available with other products on the market today. What are you doing to try to be more proactive and innovative with R&D?”
    Vendor: “Well, we’re right on schedule with our development roadmap.”
  • Vendor: “Our product is going through a major transformation – literally tens of thousands of hours of development – that will greatly improve the user experience.”
    Bank CIO: “Your transformation is scheduled to be completed in 2019, but we’d be converting in 2017. That kinda scares me.”
    Vendor: “Well, it’s really more of a facelift than a transformation.”



3:00 PM Sunday Afternoon:

The Stage: Cornerstone consultant Alison walks into Board Room … with headache … no makeup … very little sleep during an intense core system conversion

Client CEO: “Are you OK?”

Alison: “Oh yeah I’m fine … just have a headache.”

CEO: “Because you look really bad … <Pause> I mean … You look REALLY BAD!”

Alison: “THANK YOU SIR.”



Gonzo Lifetime Leadership Award – John Glenn. Veteran of two wars, astronaut, senator, lifetime learner and risk taker, loyal husband of 70+ years. Godspeed.

Purple Gonzo Award – Prince. Gonna miss that guy. And shout out to the Outside the Line band for helping the Gonzo team holiday gathering party like it’s 1999.


Election Year Gonzo Holiday Gift Award Chia Clinton vs. Chia Trump

Knowledge Culture Quote of the Year“Let’s not breathe our own exhaust. Good marketing shouldn’t feel like marketing.” –Tom Fishburne at Financial Brand Forum

Get Over Yourselves Award To the Supposedly Influential Lists of the Most Influential Influencers According to Somebody Supposedly Influential About Influencers. Who freakin’ cares?

And finally …

In honor of some of rock’s best fallen heroes in 2016, we close by remembering these words:

We’re all excited
But we don’t know why
Maybe it’s cause
We’re all gonna die

Come inside, the show’s about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart

Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day

We may lose and we may win, though we will never be here again
So open up I’m climbin’ in, so take it easy

And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah

For many, 2016 was a year to put it in the vault and forget about it. Yet the truth is the challenges of 2016 are coming back for encores in 2017 and beyond. There was plenty of negativity during the year, but everywhere the GonzoBankers at Cornerstone traveled, we saw our clients working their tails off while supporting their communities with time and money.

The grass-roots of financial services is alive and kicking in America – and our team couldn’t be more proud to work with the trouble-making banks and credit unions that are determined to play hard and win in the future. Happy holidays, Gonzo family!




Filed under: ???, Best Practices, Core Processing, Information Technology, Marketing, Mortgage Banking, Retail Banking, Risk Management, Strategy, Vendor Buzz, Web & Mobile Banking

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