Consumers trust technology much more to help with their health than they do with their wealth, according to new research from Willis Owen.

The findings also reveal that most people do not trust technology to play a decision-making role in either domain. According to Willis Owen, without steps taken to boost trust in tech, there is a risk that financial services providers and customers will miss out on the full potential of new innovations.

The research, carried out online by Opinium, shows that there is a significant gap in trust when it comes to using technology to help with health as opposed to wealth. 72% of respondents said they'd trust technology to help with their health and fitness, compared to just 53% of people who said they'd trust it to help with their finances. Looking at specific tasks, more people trust technology to fulfil the important role of offering a prognosis for a health issue (31%) than the comparatively menial task of moving money into a savings account (25%).

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Jason Chapman, Managing Director at Willis Owen, said:

"Technology has the potential to massively improve our lives. One area where we're seeing great strides forward is in technology's contribution to our health. However, there's still a lot of distrust when it comes to tech and our wealth. The conversation around innovations like robo-advice and finance apps has grown over the past few years, but swathes of the population appear unready to embrace it.  

"Our findings tap into a cultural taboo when it comes to talking about our finances. People are quite happy to upload run times to Facebook, but they're less willing to share information about how their savings or investments are performing.

"Compared with health, it's also worth remembering that levels of trust in financial services have suffered more widely since the financial crisis. This could contribute to Fintech innovations receiving a lukewarm reaction."

Willis Owen's research also finds that when thinking about both health and finance, consumers are more comfortable with technology performing simpler tasks rather than more intelligent roles.

  • 64% of respondents trust technology to monitor and measure physical activity;
  • But only 31% trust technology to offer a prognosis for an identified health and fitness issue.
  • 24% trust technology to help them budget;
  • However, just 18% trust technology to provide financial advice and 14% trust it to make investment/ fund choices.

Jason Chapman adds:

"The fall in trust when it comes to the sorts of roles that would see robots replace humans reflects a desire not to see people cut out of the process entirely. That sentiment might change in time, but providers must take note of it now.  

"Finance could learn from the digitisation of health. Providers of health technology have been clear with consumers about the benefits of using their tech. Health technology providers also understand the desire to compete. How can financial services encourage customers to reveal how their investments are performing in a similar way to uploading run times to Strava?

"Financial services customers are wary of technology and if that distrust is not respected, people may walk away entirely. That would be a real shame, as technology's potential, if it is embraced, could be enormous. As consumers input more information into apps, increase their use of online banking and use chatbots and robot advice, there will be more opportunities for FinTech to make decisions. The industry must play its part and do everything it can to make sure customers are at ease with this, trust in it and want to actively participate."

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