DOI: 10.1177/14413582231195990 ISSN:

Engaging Robo-advisors in Financial Advisory Services: The Role of Psychological Comfort and Client Psychological Characteristics

Rawi Roongruangsee, Paul Patterson
  • Marketing
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • General Energy

Robo-advisor is an artificial intelligence (AI) driven professional financial service that suggests financial portfolios and offers personalised investment recommendations to clients. Since the services are high in credence properties where financial results only become manifest over time and clients typically have difficulty assessing outcomes even after consumption, client psychological comfort is vital for service adoption. Drawing on the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT), information economic theory and the self-service technology (SST) literature, this study investigates a mediating role of psychological comfort, antecedents of psychological comfort and possible boundary conditions. Thailand (an emerging economy with sophisticated financial systems) was selected as our research context. Data were collected through a mixed method approach involving in-depth interviews with investors followed by a structured survey administered to 548 current and potential investors. The findings revealed clients’ key psychological characteristics (performance expectations, suspicion of human financial advisors) and boundary conditions that drive psychological comfort. Performance expectations and suspicion of human advisors are associated with psychological comfort, which subsequently fosters intentions to use and percentage of investment through robo-advisors. Client confidence in ability to search for financial information and need for human interaction have small but distinct moderating effects. This study extends the SST adoption and AI-enabled professional service literature. It reveals psychological comfort as a key mediator between client psychological characteristics and robo-advisors usage.

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