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Survey Finds Americans Like Robos – with a Human Touch

A new survey finds growing interest in using robo advisors – but even more support when linked to human advice.

While more than half (58%) of those surveyed say they will use some form of robo advice by the year 2025 – and though the majority of robo advice users surveyed are Millennials, nearly a quarter are Gen-Xers, according to the report published by Charles Schwab. Even among Millennials, 79% say they want a robo advisor that also provides access to advice by a person.

The report found that nearly three-quarters (71%) of people want a robo advisor that also has access to advice from a human, and nearly half (45%) not using a robo advisor at present say they would be more likely to use one if it has quick and easy access to human support.

Baby Boomers pretty much mirror those trendlines: 64% of them prefer a robo advisor that provides access to advice from a human, and 46% of Boomers who are not currently using a robo advisor say they would be more likely to use one if it offered quick and easy access to a person when needed.

It’s not as though older Americans are opposed to technology. Beyond investing, 42% of Boomers are more comfortable relying on technology than people to answer questions and solve problems. Boomers also report that technology has helped them improve their financial lives: 51% say technology gives them more confidence when it comes to finances, and 44% say technology has helped them reach financial goals.

Among all Boomers:

  • 62% agree that robo advice takes the emotion out of investing

  • 49% say it helps them maintain a diversified portfolio

  • 46% trust robo advisors to provide more transparent financial advice

The report notes that in addition to having access to a person, Boomers would be more likely to use a robo advisor if:

  • they feel that their information in the service is secure;

  • the fees are lower than those of a traditional financial advisor;

  • the mobile app is easy to use; and

  • the service has a low investment minimum.

That said, a significant portion of Americans (62%) have never heard of robo advice, according to the study. And even among those using a robo advisor, 30% don’t know it.

The online study, “The Rise of Robo: Americans’ Perspectives and Predictions on the use of Digital Advice,” was conducted for Schwab by research firm Edelman Intelligence among 1,000 U.S. general population adults and 391 robo advisor users over the age of 18 between July 25, 2018 and July 31, 2018.