Fidelity Investments customers were prevented from logging into their online accounts Wednesday, stopping millions of retail investors from trading stocks until around 12:00 p.m. E.T.
The Boston-based financial services company said that an internal glitch caused the outage, which was first spotted around 9:30 a.m., when U.S. stock trading commences. Michael Aalto, a spokesman for Fidelity, told USA Today that customers could place trades via phone during the time of the outage. "The site is back up. We have addressed the issue. Everything is operational," he said in the statement Wednesday. The glitch did not just affect online trading but also many of Fidelity's online accounts.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, while brokerage firms experience outages from time to time, the Fidelity Investment incident was more widespread than others in the past. After all, clients could not access their accounts for more than two hours of trading, which could have affected its customer base. The Wall Street Journal pointed to Vanguard Group, one of the leaders in index investing, which earlier in the year had an outage that prevented customers from logging into their online accounts for a portion of the trading day. While Vanguard had the problem fixed in under two hours, it reimbursed commissions charged on some of the trades, noted The Wall Street Journal.
Among discount and online brokerages, Fidelity Investments is the leader in terms of market share, with Aite Group saying that Fidelity ended last year with 41% market share, according to The Wall Street Journal. Charles Schwab, the San Francisco-based discount brokerage, is in second place with 27% market share, noted the report.
One group of investors that was not affected by the Fidelity outage Wednesday were financial advisors that use the company's wealth management platform dubbed WealthScape. Peter Huminski, the founder of Thorium Wealth Management, told Investment News that he was able to do all of his trading on his mobile device, tablet and personal computer despite the outage.