When it comes to whom consumers trust most for financial advice—a person or generative AI—humanity wins out, and wins big, according to a survey by the CFP Board.

In an online survey conducted in July, the Washington, D.C.,-based financial planners’ organization queried  1,153 adults on their trust levels for various sources of financial information, including generative AI like ChatGPT and Google Bard, social media and financial planners

The top four trusted sources for respondents, indicated by selecting “strongly trust” and “somewhat trust,” were financial advisors (87%), one’s own research analysis (80%), a spouse or significant other (78%), and a bank or credit union (76%).

Within that group, no one source garnered more than 41% for “strongly trust,” a rating that was shared by financial advisors and spouses and significant others.

“Consumers trust all kinds of people to provide financial planning advice—the key word being people,” the researchers wrote in “CFP Board Consumer Sentiment Survey: Trust, But Verify.” “The top three trusted sources are all people.”

The bottom two trusted sources were social media and generative AI tools, with only 10% of respondents indicating they strongly trusted social media sources and 11% selecting generative AI tools as a trusted source. Another 15% and 26% respectively said they somewhat trusted these sources.

In a hat tip to good common sense, 83% of those who did pay attention to financial planning advice on social media took the extra step and verified the advice with a financial advisor, friend or family member, or independent research. Some 92% did the same with generative AI tools and roughly the same with AI-based financial services platforms.

“Few express being comfortable with implementing financial planning advice received from social media (26%) or a generative AI tool (31%) without verifying it,” they wrote. “Comfort rises if the advice is verified with a financial advisor (46% for social and 52% for AI).”

According to the survey, if an investor tries generative AI for financial planning advice, they tend to find it a very positive experience—48% said they were very satisfied and 31% said they were somewhat satisfied for a total of 79%. However, that didn’t translate into wanting regular financial advice from AI. Only 19% said they’d be very interested in that and 33% said they were somewhat interested, for a total of 52%.  

Instead, respondents saw AI much as the way the financial industry sees it, as a supplement to the relationship with a financial advisor, not a replacement, the survey found. Only 11% said they thought AI and social media could take the place of an advisor, while 25% said they definitely could not and 52% saw them as being supplemental.

In a gender breakdown, 49% of women said they felt worried or skeptical about AI being used in their financial planning, compared with 40% of men. And just 27% of women said they felt hopeful or empowered, compared with 44% of men.

“Verification is key,” concluded the survey. “Once verified by a financial advisor, consumers are more comfortable with implementing financial planning advice from generative AI.”