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Technology > Marketing Technology

Schwab: Quarter of Americans Would Automate Finances

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Twenty-six percent of Americans in a recent survey said they were comfortable with full automation when it comes to managing their day-to-day finances, Charles Schwab reported Monday.

This compared with 22% who said they would rely on technology to get takeout food delivered, 18% to find a date and 13% to diagnose a minor health issue.

Eight in 10 respondents also expressed confidence that technology could facilitate the financial planning process. Why? Fifty-five percent considered planning as difficult as training for a marathon, but 56% wanted it to be as simple as booking a hotel room.

For 64% of respondents, technology was a natural first step to getting basic tasks accomplished. At the same time, access to a person was essential for most people in the survey.

Eighty-six percent said they preferred brands that make it easy to interact with a real person, and 43% still preferred more human assistance over automation for daily financial activities.

Specific to their finances, consumers in the survey wanted access to a person who could guide them through bigger money matters such as portfolio management or developing a financial plan. In fact, only 16% thought they could primarily automate the creation of a financial plan.

“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,” Tobin McDaniel, Charles Schwab senior vice president of digital advice and innovation, said in a statement.

Edelman Intelligence, a research firm, conducted the online survey in July among 1,000 Americans over 18.

Asked which technology or recent innovation would most likely shape the future of finance, 45% of the survey sample said robo-advisors, 29% cryptocurrencies, 28% artificial intelligence, 21% big data and 12% virtual reality.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they expected to regularly use robo advice in their daily lives by 2025, compared with 55% who said AI, 54% virtual reality, 43% augmented reality and 36% cryptocurrency.

Of those with an affinity for robo advice, 70% said they also wanted help from a person for more complex questions and situations.

But even as the world becomes increasingly tech-driven, the ability to talk to a person drives trust, the survey found. Within an online or mobile app experience, 79% of respondents said access to a person was key to their trust, just behind 81% who said ease of use and ahead of the 76% who said data security.

Dealing with a person can also result in deeper engagement with money and investing, according to the survey. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they would spend more time investing if they had easy access to financial advisor when needed.

“As people’s finances get more complex, they increasingly want access to a human advisor,” McDaniel said. “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.”

Generational Patterns

The Schwab survey showed that millennials were keen on using technology for money management. Seventy-five percent said it had given them peace of mind, 71% said it had helped them reach financial goals and 56% said it had helped them get out of debt.

Even so, 79% of millennials preferred to build their financial plan by using a combination of automation and people or by relying almost entirely on human assistance.

Baby boomers were also relatively comfortable with technology, according to the survey, as 43% reported relying on technology more than people to answer questions and solve problems.

Fifty-one percent of boomers said technology had helped them improve their financial lives, 51% said it gave them peace of mind with regard to finances and 44% said technology had helped them reach financial goals.


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