The connection of finance and technology is getting even stronger, especially for younger consumers.
The latest "Expectations & Experiences" consumer trends survey from Fiserv finds that digital experiences are influencing how people manage and make decisions about borrowing and investing. The survey indicated four of the top five loan payment methods are now electronic, and 21 percent of millennial investors use a robo-adviser service to make investments.
The survey also highlighted that smartphones are making a significant impact on lending and investment-related financial decisions, especially among millennials. Nearly half of millennials (48 percent) report they would be comfortable using their smartphone to research loan options, compared to 19 percent of older generations.
“For most people, borrowing and investing money are careful decisions that require research, advice and trust in the provider,” said Byron Vielehr, president of depository institution services at Fiserv.
“Digital experiences are now an integral, and maturing, part of their consideration and management process,” Vielehr continued. “Importantly, these results underscore the need for providers to continually evolve and develop engaging experiences that help people make informed decisions to reach their goals, whether it’s borrowing for the perfect home or investing for retirement.”
And perhaps a vehicle purchase, too.
While most consumers are comfortable researching and completing loan activities online, the study showed the key factors for choice of a lender relate to cost and consumer experience.
Topping the list of selection factors among those with at least one loan are interest rates (83 percent) and low fees/service charges (83 percent), followed by customer service (75 percent), company reputation (70 percent) and knowledge of staff (65 percent).
Fiserv mentioned 65 percent of consumers say prior experience with a lender is important.
The study went on to say many consumers expressed willingness to try new ways of interacting with their lender, if there’s a benefit.
For instance, if it makes the loan process faster, more than half of consumers would be willing to use a mobile device to e-sign loan documents (56 percent), take and upload photos of loan documents (54 percent) and verify their identity with a photo (51 percent).
Another 42 percent of consumers indicate they would be willing to provide access to their financial information by providing their credentials to other online banking applications, up from 32 percent in 2016.
Digital channels, especially mobile, are now leading ways of communicating with a lender, although context matters based on the interaction.
Fiserv’s study showed a lender’s mobile app is the preferred way to check when a next loan payment is due (21 percent), check the balance term (20 percent) and request a payoff (17 percent), among consumers who have conducted each of these activities in the past six months.
For account questions, consumers significantly favor speaking live with a representative via phone (21 percent) over using an automated voice response system (12 percent), e-chat (11 percent) or the mobile app (11 percent).
The Fiserv endeavor noted that human interactions remain an important part of financial advice, especially for the 34 percent of consumers with at least $100,000 in household investable assets.
Study orchestrators noted that 58 percent of these affluent consumers work with a financial adviser. Among those without an adviser, only 11 percent report high interest (8-10 on a scale of 0-10) in using one.
At the same time, 32 percent of affluent consumers who invest their own money grade their knowledge and expertise as a “C” or lower, suggesting an opportunity to bridge the gap with a hybrid of human and digital advice.
Among all consumers who invest on their own, only 8 percent use a robo-adviser service. However, use of such a service is much more likely among millennials (21 percent) and urban consumers (18 percent).
The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll June 13-29, 2017. A total of 3,095 interviews were conducted among U.S. adults ages 18 and older who met the following criteria: Someone in the household currently has a checking account with a bank, credit union, brokerage firm or other financial organization and has used their checking account to pay a bill or make a purchase in the past 30 days.
One of the longest running surveys of its kind, Fiserv insisted its Expectations & Experiences project builds on years of consumer survey data to provide insight into consumer financial behaviors and attitudes.
A paper with details from "Expectations & Experiences: Borrowing & Wealth Management" can be downloaded here.