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After Investor's Suicide, Robinhood Updates Trading Platform

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In response to a young investor’s recent suicide, trading platform Robinhood says it is changing some options offerings

“On Saturday, we learned that Alex Kearns, a Robinhood customer, died by suicide and left a note citing confusion with our product,” founders Vlad Tenev & Baiju Bhatt wrote in blog on Friday. “Over the past week, our team … has been focused on identifying how we can improve Robinhood’s customer experience.”

The changes, they explained, include:

  • the possible addition of more criteria and education for investors seeking level 3 options authorization “to help ensure customers understand more sophisticated options trading;”
  • more education around options trading, including some about early options assignments,and the planned hiring of an Options Education Specialist; and
  • changes to messages and emails sent to clients about “their multi-leg options spreads.”

The Robinhood founders also said the firm is adding details to its “in-app history page to help users understand the mechanics of early options assignments” and “working on changes to our user interface, including the way buying power is displayed.

“These changes will take a bit of time to roll out, but our teams are hard at work,” they added.

Investor’s Death

Kearns, 20, a sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, took his own life after his Robinhood account showed a negative balance of about $730,000, a family member shared on Twitter.

“This is terrible, Bill. Access should not lead to this. My condolences,” tweeted Doug Boneparth of Bone Fide Wealth to a relative of the deceased on June 13.

The no-fee trading platform has about 13 million users who have an average age of 31.


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