Some Investment Firms' Websites Still Slow During Market's Drop

02/06/18 02:32 PM EST
By Daisy Maxey 

The slowdowns and outages that plagued the websites and mobile apps of investment firms during Monday's stock market rout plagued at least two firms Tuesday during the sharp drop at the open, frustrating investors looking to check their account balances or execute trades.

Investors complained online Tuesday morning that they weren't able to log into their accounts at Fidelity Investments or put in orders on Fidelity's Active Trader Pro. Investors also cited a slowdown on TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.'s website Tuesday after similar slowness on the discount brokerage's mobile app during Monday afternoon's 1,100-point drop in the Dow.

Mark Kaplan, a retired investment banker in Minneapolis, said he was unable to log into his TD Ameritrade account using his mobile app Monday as he sought to buy stocks to take advantage of the market gyrations. Mr. Kaplan said he was unable to access his account on his personal computer at times on Tuesday morning, but was able to execute some trades on his phone.

"I'm very frustrated, and they're aware of my frustration," he said of TD Ameritrade.

A spokeswoman for TD Ameritrade acknowledged sporadic slowness on the firm's website Tuesday morning, but said the issue had been resolved.

"It was never an 'outage' across the board, and in every case, there was always another platform for clients to use," she said. "This redundancy is very important to us. It helps ensure that if we do encounter slowness in one channel, there are still other channels for clients to use.

"In this case," she added, "when we saw the slowness on the website, we immediately started directing clients to other channels, like our apps, the Thinkorswim platform, and our chatbot through Facebook Messenger."

At Fidelity, a spokesman Tuesday said the "intermittent technical difficulties with our website" had been resolved. He declined to say when exactly the glitches popped up, calling them sporadic.

Fidelity is authorized to waive commissions or offer free trades to clients on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Still, the experience of a slowdown or outage can be vexing for investors trying to check accounts or trade during a market plunge.

"You would think that they would know why they have insufficient scalability," said Mr. Kaplan about TD Ameritrade. "You would think they would know what part of their system would need to be more robust to handle" surges in trading volume.

While the outages Tuesday were resolved quickly, they follow widespread outages that plagued trading during the closing hours of trading Monday. Investors complained then of outages at Betterment LLC, a pioneer in the automated investing world; digital adviser Wealthfront Inc.; Charles Schwab Corp.; TD Ameritrade; Vanguard Group and elsewhere.

A spokesman for Betterment said via email that he wasn't aware of any system glitches at the firm Tuesday.

At Wealthfront, a spokeswoman said she wasn't aware of any problems with its systems Tuesday and suggested any slowness Monday wouldn't have had an impact.

"Wealthfront is not an active trading platform so clients can't ever log in to place trades," she said. "Our clients are in diversified portfolios and are long-term, passive investors. Yesterday they would have been logging on to see their balance and return for the day."

A website outage has no impact on a client's account activity, she said. "In yesterday's case, all rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting services ran as normal and were not impacted," she said.

At Vanguard Group, some clients might have experienced "sporadic difficulty" accessing their accounts Monday at or by phone, a spokeswoman said. A Schwab spokeswoman said one of its trading applications had delayed logins for some clients for a few minutes Monday. Traders were alerted and diverted to, which hadn't experienced any issues, and the issue was resolved within minutes, she said.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 06, 2018 14:32 ET (19:32 GMT)

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