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Should you trust chatbots to give you financial advice?

Stephanie Hughes Apr 14, 2023
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People are using AI chatbots like ChatGPT to look up financial advice. But the quality of the recommendations isn't always up to snuff. Leon Neal/Getty Images

Should you trust chatbots to give you financial advice?

Stephanie Hughes Apr 14, 2023
Heard on:
People are using AI chatbots like ChatGPT to look up financial advice. But the quality of the recommendations isn't always up to snuff. Leon Neal/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

These days, people are turning to artificial intelligence for lots of things, including advice on how to manage their personal finances.

To find out if that advice is actually good, we talked with two of the most popular AI chatbots on the web: Google’s Bard and Open AI’s ChatGPT.

They both offer similar disclaimers: “I am not a financial advisor,” Bard said, while ChatGPT added, “And I am not licensed to provide financial advice.”

That said, it can be tempting to ask them questions about money.

We also consulted a human — Kaya Ladejobi, a certified financial planner. She’s based in Atlanta and has her own practice advising individuals and small business owners.

One question she’s often asked: Should people pay off debt first before investing?

We put that query to both ChatGPT and Bard, which had very similar answers.

“In general, it’s a good idea to pay off high-interest debt before investing,” ChatGPT said.

“Whether you have high-interest debt depends on a number of factors,” Bard added.

They went on longer, and Ladejobi said the answers were pretty good.

“Maybe 85% of the way there,” she said. “If this question were posed to me as an advisor, there are other things I would add.”

That includes asking about things like paying off debt — are they leaving free money on the table through something like an employer match to a retirement account — and do they have enough money for an emergency fund?

“[Those are] at least those two areas, I would bring up as a human advisor, not an AI,” she said, laughing.

The trouble is, sometimes these chatbots sound like humans, too.

“They’re very, very good at language,” said Michael Littman, a computer science professor at Brown University. “But they’re actually not that good at other things.”

He also warned AIs are “perfectly comfortable giving inappropriate responses. And so they could potentially give you advice that if you were to follow, it would guarantee that you’re going to go bankrupt.”

Both Google and Open AI say their chatbots should not be relied on for financial advice.

Professional financial advisor Kaya Ladejobi said she’s not worried about losing work to them anytime soon because she’s able to advise clients individually in a way a chatbot cannot.

“They call it personal finance because it’s personal,” she said.

That said, Ladejobi is thinking about how to use AI in her work. She said it’s a tool that can make her faster at her job so she has more time to do the work that, so far, only humans can do.

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