Most Haven’t Tried Robo Advice – and Don’t Want To

Online advice providers are receiving more attention, but only a sliver of workers – and even fewer retirees – indicate they are very interested in obtaining financial advice this way.

The 26th annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), prepared by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald & Associates, finds that just 2% of workers and 1% of retirees say that they are very interested in obtaining financial advice in this manner. Nearly 4 out of 10 (39%) of workers say that they are either somewhat interested or not too interested in obtaining online advice – and among retirees, a whopping 83% are not at all interested in obtaining online advice.

That said, very few workers (6%) and even fewer retirees (4%) have ever actually gotten financial advice from an online advice provider. Of those who have, 68% of workers and 60% of retirees say that the advice was either very or somewhat helpful, though more than a quarter (27%) of retirees say that it was not at all helpful.

Cost Being Equal…

If costs were equal, 58% of workers and 38% of retirees say that they strongly prefer to meet an advisor in person. Only 5% of workers and 2% of retirees prefer to use an online advice provider. The likelihood of trying to do a retirement savings needs calculation increases with household income, education, and financial assets. And workers reporting they or their spouse participate in a DC plan are significantly more likely than those who do not participate in such a plan to have tried a calculation (58% vs. 34%).

More married workers (compared with unmarried workers) and retirement savers (compared with nonsavers) report trying to do a needs calculation. However, the 2015 RCS found that the methods of obtaining estimates of retirement savings needs were “varied” to say the least. Just over one in five (22%) asked a financial advisor, but:

  • 39% guessed;
  • 26% did their own estimate;
  • 10% used an online calculator;
  • 10% read or heard how much is needed;
  • 6% asked someone other than a financial adviser; and
  • 6% filled out a worksheet or form.

The RCS gauges the views and attitudes of working-age and retired Americans regarding retirement, their preparations for retirement, their confidence with regard to various aspects of retirement, and related issues. The survey was conducted from Jan. 2-Feb. 3 via 20-minute telephone interviews with 1,505 individuals (1,000 workers and 505 retirees) age 25 and older in the United States.

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