"I dream about checking accounts," Stumpf told a crowd at Bernstein's 31st Annual Strategic Decisions Conference on Friday. "I just love them."
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In Stumpf's view, checking accounts determine which bank a customer identifies with, making them uniquely valuable.
"If a consumer has a mortgage at Brand X and they have a credit card at Brand Y, and if they have a checking account at Wells Fargo, if you ask them where they bank, they'll say Wells Fargo," he said. "So, every morning, when I get in to work at 5:30, the first thing I look at is at the deposits. And I would guess each of our 275,000 team members probably does the same thing.
By Stumpf's measure, net new primary accounts for small businesses and individuals are growing about 5.7% a year. The bank is second to JPMorgan Chase (JPM) in deposits with $1.2 trillion, to JPMorgan's $1.3 trillion.
Checking accounts are also a popular way for the bank to make inroads with millennials, the 92 million people born between 1980 and 2000 and represent the biggest generation in U.S. history. In an era of mobile banking and online payment systems such as Paypal and Venmo, old-fashioned branch business and checking accounts remain popular with millennials.