Investors were yesterday locked out of some of Britain’s largest trading platforms as they rushed to capitalise on Pfizer’s vaccine announcement.
The breakthrough in the fight against Covid-19 triggered a stampede of interest among savers wanting to buy and sell shares or check their portfolios.
But Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell were plagued with technical difficulties as they buckled under overwhelming demand.
Locked out: Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell were plagued with technical difficulties as they buckled under overwhelming demand following Pfizer’s vaccine announcement
Fidelity apologised for ‘intermittent service issues’ while IG admitted that several of its investors were unable to check the value of their investments for around 30 minutes.
It meant some lost thousands because they could not access their accounts or had to endure lengthy waits for trades to go through.
And others were unable to see the value of their investments in real time, leaving them with no idea how much their shares were worth.
Hargreaves Lansdown, which has more than 1.4m customers, said it had been the platform’s ‘busiest day ever’.
But one investor, Bob Smith, lost more than £2,000 because it took the platform over an hour to sell his shares.
A spokesperson for Hargreaves Lansdown said: ‘A combination of positive news regarding a Covid-19 vaccine and the US Election outcome saw a global surge in investor activity.
‘We experienced our busiest ever day yesterday for web and app traffic.
‘As a consequence, we realise that some clients experienced difficulties using our services at times. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused and are working hard to support our clients.’
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for AJ Bell, said: ‘Monday was one of our busiest days ever in terms of traffic to the website and the app.
‘We did have some intermittent issues because it was so busy so some customers might not have had the immediate access as we would have hoped for but we worked through the afternoon to resolve those issues.’
Interactive Investor also told This is Money that in a year of records for trading activity and website visits, yesterday was was the latest record-breaking day.
Most platforms insisted that customers who kept trying to log in should have been able to access their accounts eventually.
No broker will provide a case iron guarantee that investors will always be able to deal and it may be difficult to prove your intention to make a trade.
If, however, anyone feels that they have been disadvantaged by yesterday’s issues, they have been advised to contact their provider, who will have its own process for dealing with complaints.