Americans Want a Combination of Tech and Humans for Help With Finances

Those surveyed said if they were to trust an online or mobile app, it first would need to be easy to use, followed by giving them access to a person.

Charles Schwab’s new Consumer Digital Demands report, based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, finds that Americans are more likely to automate their day-to-day finances (25%) than rely on technology to get food delivered (22%), find a date (18%), diagnose a minor health issue (11%) or dive a car (11%).

Fifty-six percent would like the creation of a financial plan to be as easy as booking a hotel room.

Nonetheless, the survey found that Americans still want access to a person, with 86% saying they prefer to work with financial companies that make it easy to interact with a person, and 43% saying they prefer human assistance over automation even for daily activities. Asked what they want help with, respondents said portfolio management or developing a financial plan. Only 16% think they can create a financial plan primarily through automation.

“So many people simply don’t invest for their future because they don’t know where to start,” says Tobin McDaniel, senior vice president of digital advice and innovation at Charles Schwab. “Consumers today expect a combination of technology to remove roadblocks and access to a person when they need some extra help—and how they invest should be no different.”

Asked what technology is likely to have the biggest impact on the future of finance, 45% said robo-advisers, followed by cryptocurrency (29%), artificial intelligence (28%), big data (21%) and virtual reality (12%). Fifty-eight percent said they expect to be using robo-advice on a regular basis by 2025, compared to artificial intelligence (55%), virtual reality (54%), augmented reality (43%) and cryptocurrency (36%).

However, even among those who express an affinity for robo-advice, 70% want help from a person for more complex questions. They also said that if they were to trust an online or mobile app, it first would need to be easy to use, followed by giving them access to a person. The survey also revealed that Americans are split between technology versus people for decision support, with 52% preferring technology to get things done, and 48% preferring interacting with another person.

When it comes to trusting a financial services firm, consumers first want it to secure their personal information. Secondly, they expect it to deliver high-quality customer service. Sixty-four percent say they would spend more time investing if they had easy access to a financial adviser.

“As people’s finances get more complex, they increasingly want access to a human adviser,” McDaniel adds. “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 survey also found that 75% of Millennials say that using technology for money management gives them peace of mind. Seventy-one percent say it has helped them reach financial goals, and 56% say it has helped them get out of debt.

Nonetheless, 82% of Millennials still want to be able to talk to a person, and 79% would like to build a financial plan through a combination of automation and personal advice.

Forty-three percent of Boomers say they are more comfortable relying on technology than people to answer questions and solve problems. Fifty-one percent say technology gives them peace of mind when it comes to finances, and 44% say it has helped them reach their financial goals.

Edelman Intelligence conducted the online survey among 1,000 adults in July.