Charles Schwab’s Consumer Digital Demands, a survey of 1,000 US consumers, reveals that Americans are more likely to automate their day-to-day finances than other daily activities. Roughly a quarter of those surveyed say they would sooner automate their day-to-day finances than rely on technology to get food delivered (22%), find a date (18%), diagnose a minor health issue (13%), or drive a car (11%).
But while technology is a natural first step to getting basic tasks accomplished, access to a person is still essential for most people. 86% of consumers prefer brands that make it easy to interact with a real person, and 43% still prefer more human assistance over automation even for daily financial activities. Specific to their finances, consumers want access to a person who can guide them through bigger money matters such as portfolio management or developing a financial plan. In fact, just 16% think they can primarily automate the creation of a financial plan.
The future of finance is robo (and people)
When asked what recent innovation or technology is most likely to shape the future of finance, Americans believe that robo advisors will have the most significant impact. Nearly half (45%) say robo advisors will have the biggest impact on the future of finance, compared to:
- Cryptocurrency (29%)
- Artificial intelligence (28%)
- Big data (21%)
- Virtual reality (12%)
Beyond managing their money, Americans expect to use robo-advisors more than any other technology in their daily lives. More than half of Americans (58%) say they will be using robo-advice on a regular basis by the year 2025, compared to artificial intelligence (55%), virtual reality (54%), augmented reality (43%), and cryptocurrency (36%).
Of people who express affinity for robo-advice, 70% also want help from a person for more complex questions and situations.
“As people’s finances get more complex, they increasingly want access to a human advisor,” says McDaniel. “Leveraging technology to automate ongoing tasks means we can lower costs and drive scale to give more people access to financial advice and planning than ever before.”
The more generations change, the more they stay the same
According to Schwab’s survey, the desire to use a combination of technology and humans to lend a hand is consistent across generations:
- Not surprisingly, Millennials are fans of using technology for money management: 75% say it has given them peace of mind; 71% say technology has helped them reach financial goals; and 56% say it’s helped them get out of debt.
- But at the same time, 82% of Millennials still prefer brands that make it easy for them to talk to a person; 79% prefer to build their financial plan by using a combination of automation and people or by relying almost entirely on human assistance.
- Boomers prove to be surprisingly comfortable with technology: 43% of Boomers are more comfortable relying on technology than people to answer questions and solve problems.
- Boomers report that technology has helped them improve their financial lives as well: 51% say technology gives them peace of mind when it comes to finances, and 44% say technology has helped them reach financial goals.