NBS is now part of Crowe


On June 1, 2018, The NBS Group joined Crowe LLP and was integrated with the Banking Performance Services Group.  Crowe is one of the largest public accounting, consulting and technology firms in the US and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

All NBS personnel have become employees of Crowe with Mark and Tom each holding Managing Director titles and leadership roles as the NBS team joins a highly complementary Crowe business unit while continuing to do the same thing that we do today – identify client needs and deliver the very best in consulting, project management and related services to banks and credit unions with integrity and objectivity.  With access to a broader pool of banking resources as part of Crowe, our team will be able to improve its capabilities to better meet our client needs.

Since 2009 NBS has partnered with community and regional financial institutions to provide solutions to complex challenges and opportunities in a timely and cost-effective manner.  Our resources possess extensive knowledge of banking strategies and operations and technology environments based upon our first hand financial institution experience with numerous clients of all types and sizes.  As part of Crowe, we will leverage the broader banking and technology capabilities of Crowe to provide our clients with an expanded set of capabilities while maintaining the same high-quality services provided by the resources that you have come to know under the same management.

During the last several years NBS and Crowe have partnered on select client engagements.  That working experience solidified the fact that both organizations share the same philosophy, culture and service standards and led to the conclusion that the integration of NBS with the team of Crowe professionals in the Banking Performance Services Group will create a more powerful combination of resources without sacrifice to the high-quality and cost-effective delivery of Performance Consulting, Technology Optimization and Vendor Management solutions.

Thank you for being a part of our new horizon.  We look forward to serving your needs in the years to come.


Please do not hesitate to contact either Mark or Tom with any questions or concerns that you may have regarding the integration of NBS with Crowe.


Thomas W. Grottke                                                      Mark B. Shaw

Managing Director                                                       Managing Director

Crowe LLP                                                                   Crowe LLP

tom.grottke@crowe.com                                               mark.shaw@crowe.com

860-798-7017                                                               860-460-9465




Branch Modernization

Branch Modernization

Many bankers today are approaching the modernization issue with a shared history. There’s a lot of baggage, which is causing indecisiveness as well as potentially crippling situations. Some bankers are afraid of being too early on the change curve. They’re anxious to avoid disruptions to existing customer business that those customers might not appreciate. If a bank is truly in need of change, some big questions they need to ask themselves would be: Why do we still have a branch in that location? Why do we still have tellers? Why, when I walk in our branch, does it look the same as it did 10 to 20 years ago? Branch modernization isn’t just a case of ‘flip a switch and all of a sudden you’re on another level’. There are prerequisites that must be met by the organization prior to any physical transformation taking place, and physical change alone is not a panacea.

These prerequisites are:

1. Market Awareness. Nothing else matters at the point of sale if your reputation, market awareness or level of convenience is poor. If no one knows who you are, it doesn’t matter what you do; customers are not coming to your branch. If there’s no awareness of your brand, nothing’s going to happen regardless of what you do. You must have already achieved a reasonable level of visibility for your institution before any physical upgrades will be successful.

2.The look and Feel of the Space. Most current management teams have been dealt their cards, so what do they do? The facility has to be open, inviting, fresh, and reasonably modern. If someone was to open your door and go into your facility, how do we not have them stop, turn around and go away? There’s an absolute level that has to be open, inviting, fresh and reasonably modern architecture, interior design, look and feel. It doesn’t really matter if you’re 4,000 sq. ft. or 1,000 sq. ft. because if you’re drab, gray, dark and old, you are already behind the curve. The gamble would be this: For example, think of a 25 year old walking into a bank, who sees dark wood, dark panels, dark carpets, and dark curtains on every window, ceiling and floor. What is that 25 year old going to do when they see that interior? They’re going to leave, and they’re not going to come back. If you don’t have a reasonable modicum of being fresh and inviting you’ve already lost them.

Think of an Apple store. Their stores are wide open, white as a cloud, it’s fresh, and it’s modern. Do your branches exude that same freshness and sense of collaboration with your walk-in business?

3. The Human Complement. Employees or Officers that do not greet, recognize, smile, engage or welcome every visitor would be your third strike – you’re done. Every single visitor to your branches should be treated as unique and special to you. If your employees don’t look up, if they’re focused on the line, if their head is down, if they’re pushing paper when a visitor approaches them, this is the antithesis of what needs to be happening. They must make eye contact, and welcome every single walk-in visitor. They must acknowledge them and, if they’re not dealing with customers at that moment, they need to talk to them. Think of Moe’s. You experience that “Welcome to Moe’s!” greeting every time you go through the door. There’s a reason they do that. Now, this approach can be overplayed, I understand that, but if your people are not engaging, and are instead behaving like traditional head down order takers, then this is another “nail in the coffin”.

So far we have discussed market awareness, the physical look and feel, and human engagement. We’re not talking about a digital branch; we’re talking about a sales and service office that has a planned human complement. That person and place have to be fresh, engaging, welcoming, and acknowledging. Finally, there is a fourth prerequisite, which dictates that every human in the facility must be aligned to the potential needs of any walk-in visitor, because these days there are not many coming in.

4. Business Process and Supporting Technology. I think of this aspect of branch activity like a fishing exercise. The people staffing your branches must be able to satisfy every single question, or request, of the walk-in customer, or walk-in visitor, with a view to engaging or “hooking” them. They will not hook the fish with a smile by saying, “Let me go get so-and-so, she usually deals with this.” They should not refer, they have to engage, they have to professionally interrogate. There are only a certain number of people that will actually take the time to physically walk into the branch today, and every person who walks in must be engaged and truly feel welcome. You have to be capable of addressing every situation that any visitor could bring up. Policy, procedure and technology have to be aligned to support the employee so that that employee can satisfy or substantially hook the walk-in visitor. If the visitor has to leave for whatever reason, that visitor should feel that all their needs have been taken care of and understood, and that the institution is and will be highly responsive. If my role is strictly that of a teller, I can’t do all that. If I’m a branch manager who’s worried about audits and compliance, and outbound sales, then I can’t do that properly.

The employee must have free mobility to walk and engage with customers whether they’re standing up in the lobby, or sitting down. They can’t be constrained by a teller line, an information desk, or a manager’s office. Those branch elements are not configured to meet the needs of every potential walk-in visitor. We can no longer afford specialized floor staff roles or areas within a branch that are too specific and therefore exclude opportunities for customer engagement.

This is the new operational model of a banking office. It is the way to design or build and re-design and re-build your people, building and operating procedures so that they can be the most cost effective, bring the highest degree of customer success, and portray your organization’s desired image in every single aspect of any branch visit.

The supporting technology in the modernized branch has to be simple, effective, convenient, and potentially self-service oriented. In terms of equipment, people, and facilities, you have to ask what yourself how you want to perform. Do you even know how you want to perform? Fundamentally, we’re talking about a community bank model which has customer relationships, service, and your people as its typical priorities. That’s been a differentiator between a community bank and a giant money center bank, and it must remain intact. And if we feel we’re going to deploy a physical banking office presence with staff, we have to ask “what are we trying to do in every single visitor situation?”

This article was written and edited by Tom Grottke, CEO of The NBS Group, LLC and Mark Charette, CEO of Solidus, Inc. NBS and Solidus are strategic partners; NBS are a full-service management consulting firm that has partnered with financial institutions to provide solutions to complex challenges for over 25 years. Solidus is a design-build firm pioneering new branch prototypes and an integrated strategy that harnesses demographic data, technology, and environmental branding and merchandising.

Navigating a Core System Conversion


Navigating a Core System Conversion

    by:  Mark Shaw, President and  Ken Innocenzi, Managing Director

You are a community bank or credit union that is not entirely happy with your current core processor. Perhaps you feel that functionality, support and/or pricing may be weak or lagging peers. Or perhaps you have spoken with your peers at other institutions that have engaged other processors and for some reason they appear to be much more satisfied with their core.

Whatever the reason, you have now have decided to explore other options but are not certain where to begin or are apprehensive about whether your institution will be able to handle a core conversion while still supporting their day to day responsibilities.

Navigating a core system evaluation, long-term contract negotiation and conversion can certainly be a daunting process where decisions and timing of activities is critical. The existing data processing services agreement with your current core provider will include terms for termination of the agreement, including any advance notice requirements. Should the requirements not be met, you will likely incur a penalty equal to your monthly services expense times the number of months remaining for the agreement, or some other financial penalty.

If you are planning to change, well in advance of any notice date, your due diligence of other providers of core solutions should be complete and your selection made. It is not, however, just the selection of the core solution, but for most financial institutions, many other ancillary services. These may include the evaluation of loan origination systems, document imaging systems, automated wire transfer systems, payment systems for mobile banking, online banking and card issuance and payment processing to name a few of the many other interrelated processing systems.

Ready to throw your hands up and declare that “This is too much work! We have a bank to run!”? Before you give up, remember that you will likely continue to be frustrated with your current core provider and, if you have determined you are lacking the system features, your financial institution may well miss opportunities for improving service, achieving any cost savings, and/or driving efficiencies that can result from a conversion to a more robust core solution and provider.

Engaging a partner with expertise in this area can provide your organization with the resources to help navigate the process from end to end. An ideal partner will be one that has broad expertise with core processing companies, has current in-depth knowledge of technology costs to ensure that their clients’ costs are fair and reasonable, has the expertise to provide sound advice on how to help you select the right ancillary systems to integrate with the core, and to provide ongoing project management support including a disciplined PMO for creating, updating and maintaining your project plans and activities.

The right partner will do the “heavy lifting” and will provide you and your team with the analysis and facts that you need at each step in the process to make a well-informed decision that will result in the best possible solution for your organization.

The NBS Group is headquartered in Connecticut and South Carolina and is a premier provider of management consulting services to financial institutions. Our team has the breadth of financial institution and community banking core technology experience that encompasses every aspect of your business. The NBS professionals have a long history of working with community and regional financial institutions to support successful core processor evaluations, contract renewals, competitive bids and core conversions and is well-respected by all the providers of core banking technology solutions.