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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Investors Don't Want to Replace You With a Robot: MDRT Survey

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Americans have not outgrown human advisors, according to a study by Million Dollar Round Table. Rather, the study finds that their preference lies in combining the personal touch of an advisor alongside cutting-edge technology.

The study by MDRT, an independent association of more than 66,000 life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 500 companies in 72 nations and territories, explores the fintech revolution and attitudes regarding the use of tech to complement a traditionally human relationship-based industry.

The survey, which was conducted online from Nov. 1-5, 2018, included 2,008 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 771 currently work with a human financial advisor.

According to the study, the majority of Americans (88%) want tech to complement, not replace, human financial advisors. In fact, 85% said they would rather work with a human financial advisor than a robo-advisor.

The study found that, while 83% would trust a human financial advisor to effectively manage their financial plan, only 36% would trust the job to a robo-advisor.

In fact, according to the study, only 5% of Americans believe financial planning should be managed entirely by technology-based tools.

“Though robo-advisors have become more prevalent in the financial advisor industry, it’s vital to note that the majority of clients still desire human interaction and communication,” Ross Vanderwolf, the 2019 MDRT president, said in a statement. “This means that we, as financial professionals, should make every effort to cultivate client relationships in order to further promote the benefits of working with a human advisor.”

The top benefit Americans cite for working with a human financial advisor over a robo-advisor is the opportunity to build a trusting relationship (65%), followed closely by the high level of human interaction (58%) and ease of communication (52%).

The top benefit of working with a robo-advisor over a human advisor, according to the survey, is minimized risk of human error (49%). In addition, about a third of Americans have concerns that human advisors might not be accurate in their financial predictions.

Advisors who use software to model financial outcomes can mitigate these concerns.

According to the survey, 94% of Americans who currently work with an advisor say it’s important that advisors use software to model financial outcomes. In reality, however, only 48% of Americans with a human financial advisor state that their advisor does so.

Other tech necessities that Americans believe advisors should have include cloud storage (80%) and an internet platform for scheduling appointments (72%). In reality, however, 32% say their advisor uses an internet platform for appointment scheduling and only 28% indicate their advisor uses cloud technology.

According to the survey, 32% of Americans list not receiving a quick response as a concern of working with human financial advisors. Advisors who implement an internet platform for scheduling appointments can ease this worry while also providing their clients with ease of communication, according to MDRT.

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