A few years ago I wrote about how big banks do interesting things to learn more about their customers.

To which a CEO of a credit union replied, who said to me: “Big banks don’t know – and neither will they” never know – their customers and credit unions know their members. “

My answer: “Dude, you don’t know Jack.”

I quickly added, “… or Jim or Jenny or Jill or any of your other members whose names start with the other 25 letters of the alphabet. You know the names of your members, the names of their children, where they go to school, etc. That is all well and good – but you don’t really know their financial life because you have a very limited overview. “

And that was a few years ago. Since then, Americans’ financial lives have become more complex. The proliferation of fintech providers has increased the number of providers that consumers have accounts with and, perhaps more importantly, the number of tools consumers use to manage those accounts.

These accounts and tools include:

  • Check accounts. Almost half of millennials have more than one checking account. It’s not uncommon to find a millennial couple with four accounts – one with a traditional provider, one with a community fintech like Aspiration for being environmentally conscious, one with Revolut to meet their international money transfer needs, and one account for a child at GoHenry.
  • Savings accounts. Many consumers have an accompanying savings account with their checking account, but are increasingly using tools (or accounts) like Acorns and Qapital to automate their savings. And of course, many consumers save money with Marcus in order to benefit from the high interest rates.
  • Credit cards. It has long been the common practice to own multiple credit cards from large issuers and merchants, but recently big tech and fintech companies like Amazon, Apple and PayPal have seen strong growth. And soon, many Americans will be using tools like Curve (now available in the UK) to manage their card portfolio.
  • Mobile payments. Consumers who use person-to-person mobile payment tools (P2P) typically use at least two of them. In addition, 75% of smartphone users who have at least one merchant app on their phone, half of whom have credit loaded onto a merchant app. Add to this the growing popularity of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) providers, and the number of payment providers used by a single consumer is in the double digits.
  • Invest. Not even counting consumer 401 (k) accounts – and if you’re over 40, you’ve likely got three to five of them sitting around – today’s investors have an account with a traditional provider like Vanguard or Fidelity, an account with Robinhood for options Trading, an account with Coinbase to buy cryptocurrency and a fantasy financial account with Invstr to find out what to invest in.
  • Financial management. If all of that wasn’t enough, nearly 40 million consumers turn to NerdWallet every month to manage their finances, 35% of Gen Zers and Millennials use Credit Karma weekly to manage their creditworthiness, 15 million use Mint to manage their accounts to aggregate, and 10 million young consumers are using Dave to manage their checking accounts.

That picture doesn’t even include consumer insurance relationships or the borrowing side of the coin, where many consumers have student loans, auto loans, mortgages, and other personal loans. And you can bet that they don’t have all of these loans from one provider.

Overall, it’s not uncommon for a Generation Z or Millennial couple to do business with 30 to 40 financial services providers.

The irony and new reality: