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Self-Directed Investors Knock Firms for Website Outages

Vanguard and Charles Schwab's websites both got high marks from investors making decisions without the counsel of a financial advisor, according to a new J.D. Power survey.

Vanguard’s website ranked the highest in self-directed investor satisfaction for those investors looking for guidance, while the website for Charles Schwab ranked the highest among DIY investors, according to a new J.D. Power survey of investors.

The J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study analyzed how investors perceive wealth management firms’ websites, and the analysis of more than 5,000 investor respondents found that they had much to criticize. It is all the more essential for firms to maintain website operations right now, during a period of high volatility, according to Michael Foy, the senior director of wealth and lending intelligence at J.D. Power. He noted that DIY investors who experienced at least one outage in the past year are twice as likely to leave their current firm as other investors.

“When these types of problems occur, human support channels are essential to restoring loyalty,” he said. “This is critically important for firms right now as they contend with operational challenges in both digital and call center channels, and investors are rattled by COVID-19 and economic uncertainty.”

As trading fees continue to evaporate, customer experience has come to be a “key differentiator,” according to the report, which is increasingly important as 42% of investors reported that they planned to change their portfolios as a result of the effect of the spread of the coronavirus. But website issues can be problematic for firms hoping to entice self-directed investors, and accounted for 33% of reported issues within the past two years.

However, the survey indicated that when website outages or other issues occur, 79% of self-directed investors looked for assistance with human support, as opposed to solely through digital channels, with J.D. Power finding that overall satisfaction among investors who sought human assistance was higher than those who looked for help solely through digital means. The most satisfied investors were those who interacted with firms through a combination of web, mobile and human interaction, as opposed to having no interaction or only interaction over the phone, according to the survey.

According to J.D. Power, the analysis was completed by tallying responses from 5,511 investors making decisions without using a full-service dedicated advisor. The survey was conducted between November 2019 and January of this year.


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