According to one recent study, 79% in the region have more faith in machines and tech than humans.

Has the global pandemic affected how consumers and business leaders in the Asia Pacific region (APAC) people think about their finances and who they trust to manage their funds?

According to one study of around 2,500 respondents across Australia, China, India, Japan, and Singapore between 10 Nov and 8 Dec last year, increased financial anxiety, sadness, and fear may have affected how people perceive corporate finance teams and personal financial advisors.

Financial anxiety and stress had increased by 136% in the region, with the highest increase in China (200%), followed by Singapore (157%). Some 92% of APAC respondents were worried about the continued impact of the pandemic on their organization, with the most common concerns being a slow economic recovery or recession (57%), budget cuts (43%), and bankruptcy (26%).

Who to trust with finances?

The survey suggests that consumers and business leaders polled increasingly trusted technology over people to help then navigate financial complexity:

  • 79% of APAC respondents cited that they trusted technology more than a human to manage finances, with Australians (55%) reportedly trusting technology the least.
  • 84% of APAC business leaders polled trusted technology more than themselves to manage finances; 83% cent trusted technology over their own finance teams.
  • 89% of APAC business leaders polled believed that technology can improve their work by conducting cost/benefit analysis (32%), detecting fraud (27%), and creating invoices (25%).
  • 68% of APAC consumers polled trusted technology more than themselves to manage finances; 76% trusted technology over personal financial advisors.
  • 80% of consumers polled believed technology can help with managing finances. APAC consumers polled believed that technology can be helpful in detecting fraud (36%), helping to reduce spending (23%), but least in making stock market investments (19%).
  • 60% of APAC business leaders polled believed technology will replace corporate finance professionals in the next five years.
  • APAC business leaders polled preferred corporate finance professionals to focus on communicating with customers (41%), negotiating discounts (34%), and approving transactions (27%) over technological tools.
  • 48% of APAC consumers polled believed technology will replace personal financial advisors in the next five years, with more consumers in China (63%) believing so.
  • 79% of consumers polled wanted technology to help manage their finances so they can free up time (38%), reduce unnecessary spending (34%), and increase on-time payments (27%).
  • However, some consumers in APAC polled still trusted personal financial advisors to provide guidance on major purchasing decisions such as buying a house (37%), buying a car (34%) and planning a vacation (33%).

Note: The survey used the term “robot” to refer to automated technology/AI.

Overall, 64% APAC consumers polled had reported that the pandemic had changed the way they bought goods and services, while 90% of APAC business leaders polled had felt that organizations that do not rethink financial processes will face risks, including falling behind competitors (41%), inaccurate reporting (40%), reduced employee productivity (39%), and more stressed workers (38%).

Extrapolating on the report data, Adrian Johnston, Head of Apps (JAPAC), Oracle, which commissioned the research, said: “Embracing technologies such as AI has become more important for financial service providers to cultivate innovation across functions. The findings of our research serve to further reinforce these trends, while also showing that we have entered a new era for corporate and personal finance where technology has become an integral part of operations.”