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Vanguard to Launch New Mobile App

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What You Need to Know

  • Vanguard's enhanced mobile app for retail investors may come as soon as a few weeks.
  • Enhanced features will include a fingerprint login option for the Android version.
  • A beta version of the new app is called Beacon and is being tested by clients ahead of the launch.

Vanguard is developing a new, enhanced version of its investor mobile app for Android and iOS devices and will be “rolling it out over the coming months,” a company spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor on Monday, noting a specific launch date was not available yet.

The new app’s website, however, says the app will be introduced “in a few short weeks.”

The company’s current app, known simply as the Vanguard mobile app, launched in 2010 and provides features that allow the company’s retail clients to make trades, manage their accounts, and adjust their asset mixes, along with detailed performance and holding information. The app also provides personal return, activity and balance details.

But “to continue to innovate and improve our clients’ experience, we decided to launch a new app to replace the legacy option,” the spokesperson said. “The new mobile app has been thoughtfully built using client feedback and human-centered design to enhance functionality and provide a modern, intuitive user experience.”

Because the new app is “being designed with our clients’ needs in mind,” Vanguard has  “prioritized the most frequently used features,” he said. “Clients can easily scan all of their accounts on the portfolio homepage, and we’ve streamlined all transaction flows to make it easier to manage accounts. Over time, new features will be introduced.”

Although Vanguard did not formally announce the new app, “as part of the test and learn development process, we released a beta version of the app last year” that Vanguard clients can download now “to explore it,” he added.

The beta version of the new app is called Beacon “as a way to differentiate it from the current app,” he told ThinkAdvisor. However, “once it replaces the current app, the Beacon name will be dropped and the lone app will continue to be called the Vanguard mobile app,” he said.

In response to a tweet on Sunday that complained the company needed to “improve the app experience,” Vanguard tweeted on Monday: “We’re working on a new app now and you can be a part of the testing process,” with a link to the new app’s website.

The beta Beacon app is a “fully secure, working app that enables you to view your accounts, track performance and perform some transactions,” Vanguard says at the website. “When Beacon beta is no longer supported, you can update the current Vanguard app to access the features you enjoyed in the test version.”

On the Google Play store, Vanguard says it’s releasing the new app “quietly because we’re still building the app from the ground up,” adding: “Our plan is to deliver new features in pieces. That way the app gets into your hands early and lets you provide us with valuable feedback. That means that you might not be able to do everything in this app release that you can do in the current Vanguard app but we’re working hard so that you will be able to do everything (and more) eventually.”

Vanguard’s “goal is to have this new app become a single, all-encompassing tool that supports all of our investors,” it says on the Google Play store, where it also lists new features offered by Beacon: Biometric logon using fingerprint authentication; a ”sleek look and feel that puts fund performance front and center”; and “brand new ways to view your order status, asset mix, and cost basis.”

Although fingerprint recognition is already supported for iOS devices, the new app is expanding that feature to Android users, the spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor.

Trading Outage

Vanguard’s website had an unspecified technical issue on Monday morning.

“For a short period of time earlier today, a small number of clients may have experienced an issue placing trades on vanguard.com,” the spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor.

“That isolated issue has been resolved and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience,” he added. “Mobile trading was not impacted, and there were no issues with clients accessing their accounts online.”

Downdetector.com reported that users of the Vanguard site and TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim trading platform had technical issues Monday morning. Users of both platforms complained about the issues on Twitter. Both companies acknowledged the issues on Twitter in response, said they were resolved, and apologized for the inconvenience.

 

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