Did Your Broker Make the Grade Yesterday?

How major online brokers reacted to investors' trouble trading.

Jennifer Schonberger
Jennifer Schonberger
May 7, 2010 at 12:00AM

After a 1,000-point drop on the Dow in a matter of 15 minutes Thursday afternoon, reports surfaced that individual investors had difficulty logging on to their online brokerage firms' websites to conduct trades. With the market going through the biggest intraday point drop in history, some speculated that certain sites may have crashed because of high trading volume.

I talked with spokespersons from the major online brokers, none of whom said their websites experienced outages during yesterday's tumultuous trading session. Here's what they had to say:

Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW): Schwab's platform experienced intermittent access issues yesterday afternoon, but there was no outage, according to spokesperson Sarah Bulgatz. While there were delays in placing orders, Bulgatz said the online broker continued to handle trades. "There was a 10-fold increase in volume over a 20-minute period of time," she said. "The issues were widespread and not confined to Schwab."

TD AMERITRADE (Nasdaq: AMTD): The broker did not experience any outages during yesterday's market turmoil, according to spokesperson Kim Hillyer. She said both of the company's online sites, Thinkorswim and its namesake TD AMERITRADE site, performed well. Hillyer said the company is investigating rumors that mark-to-market data centers could have affected trading.

Fidelity: Fidelity saw near-record peak brokerage transaction volumes on Thursday, according to spokesperson Vin Loporchio. The broker continued to serve customers, with some intermittent slowness for short periods, but without interruption throughout the day. "Customers were able to trade on and use the site throughout the day," he said. "Some trades that customers submitted during the day were executed, but may not have been immediately visible to customers."

Scottrade and E*TRADE Financial (Nasdaq: ETFC): Spokespersons from Scottrade and E*Trade said that their respective brokers didn't experience any outages yesterday.

Did you experience any difficulties in accessing your online broker to trade? Weigh in below!