For the second time in recent days, Fidelity Investments suffered an outage that prevented some clients from making trades from their brokerage accounts. On Twitter, Fidelity said that some customers were having problems accessing their trading accounts, although the firm did not disclose what was preventing them from logging on and making trades. In a subsequent message, Fidelity said on its website that "we apologize for any inconvenience" and that the issue has been resolved.
This comes after similar issues on Nov. 30, when customers were not able to log into their online accounts, stopping millions of retail investors from trading stocks until around 12:00 p.m. EST. The Boston-based financial services company said at the time 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. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, while brokerage firms experience outages from time to time, the Fidelity Investments incident was more widespread than others in the past.
The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that Fidelity Investments offered some clients compensation after last week's outage, including waving commissions on some trades that customers attempted to place during the outage as well as offering some clients free trades. The firm also said that it will review and adjust the pricing on trades if warranted. "Customer service is a top priority at Fidelity. We will review each situation on a case by case basis," a company spokesman said in an email to the Wall Street Journal.
The two outages in less than a week at Fidelity Investments come at a time when competition in the online brokerage market is cut throat. While it is hard for customers to pick up and switch brokerages overnight, Fidelity's reputation could take a hit from such outages. It remains unclear how much of an impact these latest outages will have on the firm.