Charles Schwab: Millennials Like Robo-Advisors

Technology has penetrated every aspect of our lives, and while older investors may be reticent to have a robots doing their investing for them, many Millennials aren’t, boding well for the likes of Charles Schwab Inc. (SCHWB).

Consider this: According to a recent LendEDU survey of 502 Millennials who are actually saving for retirement on an ongoing basis, 53.59% said they aren’t using a financial advisor to help them invest. That compares to 46.41% that are working with a financial advisor. While only 24.30% of survey respondents said they aren’t using robo-advisors, it's not for a lack of willingness. A majority—61.58%—said they haven't used one because they didn’t know that type of investing advice existed. That spells opportunity for Schwab, which has been going after the market for some time now, aiming to meld automated advice with a human touch. “With a better marketing strategy, robo-advisors could see a huge uptick in users that improves upon the already impressive 24.30 percent of millennials that have used such a service,” said LendEDU in reporting its survey results. (Interested in trading? Read Investopedia's broker reviews.)

Robo-Advisors: Lacking a Human Touch?

It’s not all good for the players in the robo-advisory market, however. The survey results did show that 51.59% of Millennials think robo-advisors will make more mistakes investing their money compared to 48.41% who think financial advisors will be the ones making snafus. Of those polled, 62.35% think robots will lose them more money on their investments than humans. Only 37.65% of Millennials have less confidence in financial planners, according to the survey. As for the return on their investments, 68.92% think a human will make them more money compared to 31.08% who think that robo-advisors will earn them a better ROI. “It is clear that when it comes to their money, a sweeping majority of millennials still desire a real-life financial advisor to make the decisions, not a robo-advisor,” wrote LendEDU. “Millennials will hand over their trust to technology when they need directions, the weather, or the answer to 5,678 * 75,003, but not when they are looking to turn $10,000 into $100,000 via Wall Street.”

Recognizing the skepticism on the part of some investors, apparently including Millennials, Schwab has been responding. Take its move in March when it launched Schwab Intelligent Advisory, which is an add-on to its Intelligent Portfolios service that it launched in 2015. At the end of 2016, the main unit had $12.3 billion in assets, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, placing it second behind Vanguard's Personal Advisory Services robo-advisor. Charles Schwab's reviews for the service seemed to be positive so far. With Schwab Intelligent Advisory, 30 certified financial planners hold meetings via phone or video to aid customers in their investments. That melding of technology and human touch is expected to be a big driver of growth and that may include Millennial investors as well.