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RETAIL REPORT: Schwab Says Robo Advisors Are Wave of the Future

Traders Magazine Online News, November 6, 2018

John D'Antona Jr.

Look out humans, it’s the rise of the robo-advisor.

The number of people using robo advice in the U.S. is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, according to a new study commissioned by Charles Schwab. In the study, “The Rise of Robo: Americans’ Perspectives and Predictions on the use of Digital Advice,” the retail brokerage discovered that 58% of Americans will be using a robo-advisor to assist in their investment decisions by 2025. And people are more likely to use robo advice than a number of other technologies in the headlines today including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Also cited in the Schwab report was a tidbit from market consultancy Aite Group, which stated “digital advice users will increase from roughly 2 million to 17 million by 2021.”

The report examines Americans’ outlook on robo advice – its potential impact on how they invest and the financial services industry overall, the perceived benefits, and what factors make them more likely to consider an automated investing service. The report also digs into current robo advice users across the U.S. – who they are, where they are, and what they think about the services they’re using to reach their investing goals.

Despite the benefits of automation with a robo advisor, the report also made clear that Americans still see value in the ability to interact with a person when needed. Seventy-one percent of people want a robo advisor that also has access to human advice and nearly half (45%) not using a robo advisor today would be more likely to use one if it has quick and easy access to human support. Even among millennials, 79% want a robo advisor that also provides access to human advice.

Beyond investing, 42% of baby boomers are more comfortable relying on technology than people to answer questions and solve problems, and boomers also report that technology has helped them improve their financial lives: 51% say technology gives them more confidence of mind when it comes to finances and 44% say technology has helped them reach financial goals. Although robo advice is often thought of as a tool primarily for younger investors, older generations see the appeal as well. In fact, nearly half of baby boomers using a robo advisor today say the service is perfect for their life stage. Among all boomers, 62% agree that robo advice takes the emotion out of investing, nearly half (49%) say it helps them maintain a diversified portfolio, and 46 percent trust robo advisors to provide more transparent financial advice.

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