Chaos as brokers struggle to cope with demand from investors

Investors woke up yesterday to find their stocks and shares accounts were thousands of pounds in the red – and then they could not get through to complain.

Britain’s largest platforms were plagued with technical problems on Monday as they became swamped by investors trying to capitalise on the Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough.

Hargreaves Lansdown, with 1.4 million customers, said it had been its busiest day ever.

Britain's largest investment platforms were plagued with technical problems on Monday as they became swamped by investors trying to capitalise on the Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough

Britain's largest investment platforms were plagued with technical problems on Monday as they became swamped by investors trying to capitalise on the Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough

Britain’s largest investment platforms were plagued with technical problems on Monday as they became swamped by investors trying to capitalise on the Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough

But the demand meant some people struggled to access their accounts or faced lengthy waits for trades to complete. 

Customers complained the delays meant they missed out on profits as share prices had changed again by the time they could move their money.

Others found the next day that some trades had been processed multiple times, leaving them thousands of pounds out of pocket. They could not get through to complain.

Joshua Deacon, who set up a Hargreaves Lansdown account last month in despair at interest paid on savings accounts, tried to sell about £7,300 worth of shares in an airline company after the Pfizer announcement was made.

But each time the communications specialist asked for a quote via the firm’s smartphone app, he was told he could not have one. 

When he did hours later, the price had fallen 9p and he was quoted £10,047 to sell the rest of his shares in the carrier.

A green tick appeared to confirm the trade had gone through — but when he checked he had not received the money and had not been sent a confirmation email.

Determined not to miss out, he spent another hour trying to sell the shares until a stream of confirmation emails suddenly landed in his inbox, leaving him with a balance of minus £125,642.

Joshua, 26, from Slough, says: ‘My heart dropped when I saw that figure. I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even know you could go into the red.’

Hargreaves finally reversed Joshua’s duplicate trades at 5pm yesterday, but last night some investors were still waiting for the problem to be resolved.

James Adams, of Hampshire, had wanted to sell £5,500 worth of Rolls-Royce shares after they nearly doubled in value but was locked out of his account and eventually gave up.

When he finally managed to log back in at 4pm, he tried to sell £1,000 of BP shares. It took him a few attempts before it looked like the deal had gone through. 

But, yesterday, he discovered his balance was down by an extra £2,000, as the sale was registered three times.

James, 37, owner of a holiday let business, spent most of yesterday on hold but could not get through. He says: ‘I feel like I have lost all faith in these investment platforms’.

A Hargreaves Lansdown spokesman says: ‘We are aware that a small number of clients experienced duplicate trades yesterday. We are correcting these as quickly as we can at no cost to the client and apologise for any inconvenience caused’.

f.parker@dailymail.co.uk

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