Many investors were angered Monday when the brokerage platforms or mobile apps of Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, E-Trade and Robinhood were plagued with problems. But what caused the outages, slowness and difficulty placing trades?
Volume was within the range or even lower than previous sessions on exchanges. The only unusual events were a 4:1 stock split in Apple and a 5:1 stock split in Tesla. The same day, changes were made to the Dow Jones Industrial Average to adjust for those stock splits.
Maybe that was just enough to tip the system.
Although most brokerage platforms were running normally by midday, many seemed to scoff at the idea that the stock split caused the problems.
“This was not a capacity issue and, in fact, we have handled far greater volumes than we experienced on [Aug. 31] as demonstrated by our site performance, which is at over 99.9% for the year,” a Schwab spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor.
“We recently made a change to our systems to protect storage for quote lookups and Monday’s volumes triggered an error. … While we were able to direct clients to access their accounts through the mobile app while we resolved the issue, we also understand that any downtime is unacceptable, which is why we’re constantly updating our technology, people and protocols.”
Likewise, TD Ameritrade, which had systems up and running again by 12:45 p.m. that day, stated: “Apple and Tesla stock splits were completely unrelated to the Monday morning slowness on TD Ameritrade’s web platforms and mobile app.”