Portfolio Perspective

Investors want robos paired with live financial advice

Investors want a "bionic" financial advisor who offers a low-cost, automated investing platform paired with patient, personal advice, according to a new survey by the Financial Planning Association and Investopedia.

Among people using automated investing services, known as robo-advisors, 73 percent were satisfied with their experience, the survey found. Meanwhile, 75 percent of people who primarily work with a financial advisor said they were pleased.

Lee Majors, starring as bionic Colonel Steve Austin, in a scene from the television series 'The Six Million Dollar Man,' 1970s.
Fotos International | Getty Images

"The debate about whether robos or human advisors will win is moot," said Investopedia CEO David Siegel in a statement. "The future of financial advice is bionic — a powerful combination of both."

While people who used robo-advisors were generally satisfied, 40 percent of those surveyed said they were uncomfortable using the services during periods of extreme market volatility.

The Financial Planning Association and Investopedia surveyed 2,002 U.S. investors age 21 or older in August and September about their preferences for planning advice.

Other surveys have found that investors want to merge the benefits of low-cost, easy-to-use technology with the security of a human being.

One in 4 people with $500,000 or more in investible assets uses digital tools and a paid advisor, according to a recent survey by financial services research firm Hearts & Wallets.

"When you combine digital and live advice, consumers are happier," said Laura Varas, Hearts & Wallets' founder and CEO. "And they are blending digital and live advice on the high-stakes questions."

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Hearts & Wallets found that people are most likely to pair digital advice with human guidance when they are picking out their investments, dealing with taxes and making decisions about Social Security.

Investors now expect more for their advisors than an annual checkup, Varas said. "Technology can help advisors address the unmet need of keeping people engaged with their finances."