MILWAUKEE – According to new findings released July 18 from Northwestern Mutual's 2016 Planning & Progress Study, the established value of human advice in financial planning is not easily replaced by technology alone.
When asked how they would prefer to receive financial advice, the majority (54%) said the ideal solution combines a human relationship with technology while a full third (33%) prioritized a human relationship above all else. Notably, the appetite for a fully automated (robo) solution appears low across all age groups, even for Millennials, with fewer than two in 10 in that age group opting for robo.
"The data reflects what we're hearing from our clients," said Tim Schaefer, executive vice president, client and digital experience, Northwestern Mutual. "As people's financial and personal lives become busier and more complex, they want expert guidance tailored to their needs and access anywhere at any time. Technology transforms the roadmap to financial security into a 24/7 financial GPS."
Reservations about robo
Though 53% of Americans indicated that they would be open to trying automated advice, only a small fraction (7%) said they are "extremely or very interested" whereas as the majority cited only being "somewhat interested."
The nearly 50% of respondents who had "no interest at all" in robo advisors flagged the following as their top reasons:
- A preference for a human advisor who can answer questions and discuss options (48%)
- Lack of trust (40%)
- Desire for knowledge and expertise of a human advisor (38%)
Interestingly, this third factor was most pronounced for Millennials, suggesting that even digital natives who rely heavily on technology in many aspects of their lives appreciate the importance of human expertise in navigating the intricacies of financial planning.
Women emerged as somewhat less receptive towards automated advice, with a full half saying they were "not at all interested" relative to 43% of men. This dovetails with other Planning & Progress Study findings indicating that women are more likely to prioritize deep knowledge of personal circumstances and tailored attention – intrinsic attributes of human advice – when describing the ideal financial services provider.
"It's encouraging to see that most Americans recognize that the experience and knowledge of a human advisor is at the heart of sound financial planning," Schaefer said.
The research released this week is the latest set of findings from the 2016 Northwestern Mutual Planning & Progress Study, an annual research project commissioned by Northwestern Mutual that explores Americans' attitudes and behaviors toward finances and planning. The research was conducted online in February among over 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older.
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