Case Study: Digital Advisor and Robo Advisor Consumer Survey

Drive Research recently completed an online survey with a regional bank to understand the usage and appeal of digital and robo advisors in the financial services industry. This is a new concept in the field in which a customer uses an app to help personalize and design an investment portfolio. The concept focuses on ease of set up and ease of use as a trade-off to more traditional investment services.

What is a robo advisor? Learn more.

Digital advisors and robo advisors are a new concept in the banking and financial services industry. Regional banks are considering adding this service to the their investment portfolios to help ease customers into investment services.

Case Study Digital Advisor and Robo Advisor Consumer Survey


A multi-state regional bank to hired Drive Research to conduct a market research project in October 2018. The objectives of the market research included understanding awareness and usage of online investment platforms, the process for choosing an advisor, the likelihood to use the digital advisor concept, as well as expectations, and potential names. These and other secondary objectives were addressed in this market research. The market research efforts ensured the brand planning for the bank was based on facts and evidence collected from the surveys.


To address the objectives at-hand, Drive Research recommended the following market research approach. Drive Research recommended using online surveys sent to: (1) customers of the bank and (2) the general public in market areas within a 15-miles radius of branch locations.

Online surveys are cost-effective, offer a quick turn-around, are measurable, and gather quality feedback. Drive Research followed an exclusive in-house approach our team has built for survey projects. Our method used a step-by-step and task-oriented approach to project management from kickoff through completion.

Fieldwork for the survey began on October 29 and lasted until November 14, 2018. The survey consisted of 21 questions and took respondents an average of 5 minutes to complete. A total of 774 responses were collected for this study. This included 495 responses from the customer sample, and 279 responses from the market study. The market survey sample was intended to be a representation of the market as a whole. Both the customer sample and market sample produced highly reliable margins of error at the 95% confidence level.


Although the results remain confidential with the client, several key findings and themes emerged to help the research and innovation team at the bank guide decisions. Several objectives were answered in the market research including:

① How familiar are respondents with a digital advisor or robo advisor?

② How likely are respondents to use the concept?

③ What would respondents look for when choosing a digital advisor?

④ What words are associated with the digital advisor concept?

⑤ What names do respondents prefer for the concept?

⑥ What is the awareness of the bank's investment services?

⑦ What resources are used for investment advice?

The report included a background and methodology, executive summary with themes, a respondent persona, infographic, and recommendations. The recommendations tied the insights to next steps and action items for the bank. The recommendations pulled in findings from other secondary market research reports to support the insights and add further context. This was all in addition to a question by question breakdown of the data in the appendix.

Next steps for the bank were also included in the report. These are other market research project considerations for the bank as the team continues to roll out the concept.

User Experience (UX) Interviews

Once the digital advisor product is further along, the should consider conducting user experience (UX) interviews with customers and non-customers to make improvements to user paths, the interface, and increase the overall user friendliness of the platform. These are conducted through live one-on-one interviews where users are recruited on-site at the Drive Research facility in Syracuse. A moderator is assigned to guide the conversation, ask follow up questions, and ask the user to “think out loud” while using the platform. A guide is developed prior to the interviews to focus conversation on client objectives. The recruitment for the interviews is managed by the market research firm. These interviews are incredibly insightful to help gather feedback prior to launch of an app, product, or service for an organization.

Investment Services Satisfaction Surveys

Although the key performance indicator (KPI) of awareness and perception was addressed in this survey, further market research should be completed on other KPIs such as likelihood to recommend the Wealth Management Group (NPS) and customer satisfaction (CSAT). A survey should be sent to clients of this division to ascertain levels of satisfaction and drivers to positive and negative experiences. The survey should also explore factor(s) which are most important to these customers. Better understanding this experience of customers will help better relay differentiators of the bank for the digital advisor launch to both customers and non-customers.

Customer Database Analysis

This is a service where our team at Drive Research takes the database of customers and creates a data append using our partners’ first and third-party data resources. By using home address as the identifier our team can add key demographic and behavioral data points such as location/geography, urban/suburban/rural distribution, individual age, household age, individual gender, household gender, household marital status, household income, wealth rating, household level of education, household type, presence of children, number of children, number of adults, presence of adult males, presence of adult females, length of residence, homeowner status, dwelling type, assessed median home value, donor behavior, top interests, and PersonicX® clusters.

Contact Our Market Research Company

Drive Research is a financial services market research company for banks and credit unions. We work with financial institutions across the United States to assist with market research projects. Our team consults with clients to manage survey design, implementation, fieldwork, reporting, and recommendations.

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