A survey of more than 1,000 adults found the increased scrutiny of the behaviour of financial services professionals in the royal commission meant that Australians are open to the idea of taking humans out of the equation altogether.

In comparison, just 9% of respondents to the survey commissioned by think tank Thinque said they would trust a robot to provide counselling or relationship advice, or allow robots to help them make other long-term choices such as career or marriage decisions.

Global futurist and innovation strategist, Anders Sörman-Nilsson said the results are very telling.

“Previously, Australians have trusted digital tools with purely transactional activities such as mobile payments. However, when it comes to more strategic life advice, we are now beginning to trust AI to advise us in sectors such as health and travel, and increasingly we are entrusting robots in the banking and finance sector, as many Australians’ distrust in human advisors has mushroomed in the wake of the Royal Commission,” he said.

Fraud still a big concern

Despite Australians’ growing trust in robo-advisors, 80% said they were concerned about digital fraud, highlighting the risk of fraud in the financial services sector is still a major concern.

Among the reasons for feeling this way was information getting into the wrong hands (41%), and that hackers/thieves are evolving faster than cyber security technology (39%).

Mr Sörman-Nilsson said that given the all-time high levels of public distrust with the financial industry, banks must place importance on offering both seamless customer transactions and cyber-security.

“With ‘pinflation’ (the term for either using the same pin for everything or the overwhelming management of too many passwords) Australians are becoming very exposed to hackers and fraud, a feeling that is reflected in the sentiment of the research,” he said.

“Financial advisors in particular need to look at how to rebuild public trust in this digital age.”

Mr Sörman-Nilsson said the financial services sector will be further rocked when open banking comes into play.

“Open banking requires regulated banks to allow customers to share their financial data with authorised third-party providers (like Fintechs) through APIs. This is to allow consumers to switch banks easily and score themselves a better deal, driving established banks to invest thoroughly in offering the very best customer experience or face the risk of losing many clients to Fintechs.”