Boomers, Gen X Prefer Advisers’ Personal Touch

Older investors do not trust robo-advisers.

Despite the growing popularity of online financial advice delivered via robo-advisers, personal relationships with financial advisers remain important to many investors, Allianz Life Insurance Company found in a survey of Baby Boomers and Generation X.

Nearly seven in 10 (69%) from both generations say they “don’t really trust online advice, making personal relationships more important,” according to the survey, titled “Generations Apart.” More than three-quarters (76%) believe “there’s so much selling online that it’s hard to trust the financial advice.”

Additionally, while more than one-third (35%) of respondents say they have some interest in working with a robo-adviser (46% of Gen X, 24% of Boomers), only 10% said they would be comfortable to have their relationship with their adviser exist entirely online.

More than half (57%) of both generations spend one to three hours a day online outside of work. Forty percent regularly visit financial websites, with 13% making daily visits, and 22% doing some trading or investing online. Those who seek financial information online are evidently pleased with their findings, as 42% agreed with the statement that “there’s nothing a financial adviser can tell me that I can’t find online.”

Nonetheless, both generations said there are several services a financial adviser can offer them that a robo-adviser cannot. This includes: “helping me plan, set and achieve long-term financial goals;” “making sure I have enough money to last as long as I live;” and “helping me understand the big picture of my money (spending, saving and retirement).”

Says Katie Libbe, Allianz Life vice president of consumer insights: “Robo-advisers are generating a lot of buzz in the personal finance world, but when it comes to fully relying on them, both Gen Xers and Boomers hesitate and instead recognize the value of a real person giving personalized advice. Both generations say they’re concerned about retirement, so it’s crucial that they have access to financial professionals who address their specific needs beyond asset allocation and accumulation, and shift their recommendations as personal circumstances change.”