Nearly half of North Americans open to robo-advice

Nearly half of North Americans open to robo-advice

Nearly half of North American bank customers are open to ditching human expertise for automated, computer-generated advice and services, according to a survey from Accenture.

Of more than 4000 people in the US and Canada quizzed by Accenture, 79% say that they would welcome robo-advice to determine how to allocate investments, 74% to pick the type of bank account they should open, and 69% to help in retirement planning.

For half of respondents, speed and convenience is the top benefit of robo-advice, with lower costs cited by 29%. Millennials and mass-affluent consumers are the most interest in the service.

David Edmondson, senior MD, North America banking practice, Accenture, says: "It’s well-known that robo-advice is gaining significant traction in the wealth management industry; however, our research shows this trend is also picking up in retail banking."

With a host of new fintech startups entering the market, the survey also shows that people are increasingly willing to bank with non-traditional players, closing the gap with those switching to large regional or national banks.

Of the 11% of North American consumers who switched banks in the past year, a third joined a non-traditional provider such as an online-only bank, payments providers, retailer or insurer, versus 23% who switched to a large regional or national bank.

A quarter of all US respondents say they would consider switching to a bank with no branches, up three percentage points on last year, with the percentage rising among millennials and mass affluent customers.

However, the branch remains popular, with a quarter of respondents using one at least weekly and most saying that they anticipate using one two years from now, with trust and value cited as driving reasons.

Says Edmondson: "Even as consumers indicate interest in robo-advice and online banking, they continue to demand human interaction at the branch to handle more complex banking needs. Banks need to find ways to blend the digital and branch experiences to provide more value-added services to their clients, and move past their role as a transactional service provider."

Despite the fact that nearly a quarter have experienced their financial data being hacked in the past two years, nearly two thirds are willing to share their data in order to receive better service from their bank.

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