The YouGov survey of 2,066 adults aged between 18 and 59, taken between 29 and 31 January, revealed just 23% of investors were confident they could trust a robo-adviser to deliver good investment returns.
Robo-advisers polled last in terms of trust, putting them behind traditional IFAs (51%), investment managers (48%), banks (34%) and pension providers (43%).
Conducted by trading provider IG Group, it showed the public were still sceptical of online wealth management, as robo-advice is sometimes otherwise called.
The figures seemed to demonstrate, however, that investors were happy with the underlying tools that robo-advisers frequently used to build their portfolios, with 53% of those surveyed believing passive investments such as ETFs and index trackers can deliver good investment returns.
IG said this intimated “that people therefore mistrust the driver, rather than the engineering, when considering an online wealth manager to look after their savings.”
The company also said the technological solution “should play well with audiences that want transparency, professionally managed portfolios and lower fees.”
The continuing concerns over automation came despite an advertising outlay of between £200 and £500 to acquire each new customer, costs branded “unsustainable”, by IG.
Despite the findings, IG was confident it would ultimately be successful.
Ian Peacock, IG chief client officer, said: “We know there is a demand for a low-cost alternative to traditional wealth management, but what should the online wealth management industry do to earn that elusive but vital trust?
“Firstly, it must provide genuine leadership when it comes to price transparency.
“We should work harder to create an easily comprehendible industry-wide guide to what it costs over time to use an investment service – such as adopting clear standards in what an indicator of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) should look like.
“MiFID II has helped, but does not go all the way.”
He added: “One way or another robo-advice is the future for less expensive investing.
“But instead of shouting about our brands at great expense, it’s vital we dedicate our energies to explaining our proposition better.
“Showcasing the experts responsible for people’s investments and leading the debate when it comes to transparency is a good place to start.”