Clients of Schwab, TD, Merrill, other brokers report outages as Dow hits all-time high

Last modified November 9, 2020. Published November 9, 2020.
A general view of Pfizer Manufacturing Belgium in Puurs, Belgium, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Pfizer said Monday that early results from its coronavirus vaccine suggest the shots may be a surprisingly robust 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

A general view of Pfizer Manufacturing Belgium in Puurs, Belgium, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Pfizer said Monday that early results from its coronavirus vaccine suggest the shots may be a surprisingly robust 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

, and brokerage clients reported service outages on Monday as news of coronavirus vaccine developments sent stocks soaring to all-time highs.

Users also claimed to have trouble accessing accounts at Fidelity and users also had trouble logging in to their accounts, according to the outage monitoring website Downdetector.com. 

The outages came amid a flurry of trading boosted by drug makers Pfizer and BioNTech’s report Monday that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in large-scale trials. Both the S&P 500 and Dow opened at record highs, while shares of firms such as Zoom that have benefited from the pandemic fell significantly. 

More than two thousand users of Merrill Lynch, a brokerage arm of Bank of America, reported being unable to log in to their accounts on Monday morning. 

“The account that I need to sell stocks in won’t let me sell or buy anything,” said one commenter on Downdetector. “Now I have lost 25% in option value just because of the delay. ... I am moving my money out!” 

Yet when asked about the reported outages, Merrill spokesperson Mark Pipitone denied any had taken place. 

“We were never down,” said Pipitone. “There was never an outage. Like all financial firms this morning, we experienced higher than normal trading volume.”

Representatives from TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab and Vanguard acknowledged that some users experienced outages. 

“Due to unprecedented volumes of activity, we encountered login issues across multiple TD Ameritrade platforms that impacted some clients’ ability to log in,” said TD Ameritrade spokesperson Christina Goethe. “We apologize for the inconvenience and take the performance and reliability of our trading platforms very seriously.” 

Schwab spokesperson Peter Greenley said some users “experienced technical issues early this morning” and apologized for any inconvenience. 

Meanwhile, Vanguard spokesperson Amy Lash also apologized to any customers who were affected by the outage, saying, “We understand that some Vanguard clients may have experienced difficulty accessing their accounts on our systems.”

A representative for Fidelity told Fastinform that customers are able to access online systems.

"Some may have experienced slower processing speeds for a short period at market open due to extremely high volumes, but trades were processed." 

Notably, the mobile app-based brokerage Robinhood did not see widespread outages on Monday morning, receiving about 300 complaints on Downdetector compared to the thousand-plus for the other brokerages. 

E*TRADE also had about 500 complaints, fewer than the other large brokerages. 

Retail traders have flocked to online brokerages this year, but the platforms have been marred by outages, bringing their reliability into question. 

In August, Robinhood, TD Ameritrade, Vanguard, Charles Schwab and E*TRADE all experienced glitches, with users of some brokerages being shown wildly inaccurate balances and others being unable to log into their accounts. 

Robinhood is currently facing several lawsuits over outages the company’s app experienced in March, when initial coronavirus-related market volatility led to a surge in trading.

This story was updated to include a comment on behalf of Fidelity.

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