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Industry Spotlight > Broker Dealers

Schwab, Vanguard, Other Platform Glitches Unrelated to Apple, Tesla Splits, Firms Say

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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.

(Related: Glitches Plague TD Ameritrade, Schwab, Vanguard and Other Trading Sites)

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.”

A Vanguard spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor: “Full access to Vanguard systems was restored Monday afternoon and systems are now operating as usual. Additionally, we are confident that the issues Vanguard experienced are wholly unrelated to those experienced by other firms.  

“Vanguard has heavily reinvested in our business and technology infrastructure to continuously provide a better client experience via web, mobile or phone. We will continue to review our technology systems carefully to help prevent interruptions in the future.”

It also stated that there was no reason to believe stock splits caused the glitch.

Trading volume at Nasdaq that day was 3.6 billion shares, not much higher than normal and far below its 4.4 billion on Thursday during the recent stock market drop. NYSE had similar volumes, with 4.3 billion shares traded on Aug. 31 and 4.9 billion traded Thursday.

But Thursday was not a glitch-free trading day, either. According to Downdetector, users reported that Merrill Lynch was having platform problems on Thursday. User Henry Beaudin wrote in on Twitter that the firm was not updating loss/gains on Merrill Edge. Noting later that service was restored, he said, “I wish [Merrill] would provide transparency into outages instead of leaving us high and dry. Truly disappointing.”

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