Vanguard wrestles with new service problems

Tech glitch sends out erroneous emails to retail customers

Mar 27, 2018 @ 1:22 pm

By John Waggoner

Vanguard investors complained Tuesday about getting erroneous messages about not having enough money in their settlement accounts to make trades.

On the Bogleheads.org message board, about a dozen Vanguard investors complained about the same issue. Others complained that the balances displayed on the Vanguard homepage were substantially below their actual balances, which were accurate on other parts of the Vanguard website.

"Some retail clients received an email in error reporting insufficient funds in their brokerage settlement accounts," said Vanguard spokesman John Woerth. "We expect to resolve the issue shortly and apologize to clients for any undue concern. No action is required on the part of affected clients."

Vanguard also warned on its website this morning that customers could have difficulties reaching the company by phone due to a technical issue with its phone lines.

Vanguard Group Inc., the nation's largest mutual fund company, has $5.1 trillion in global assets. Morningstar Inc. estimates that Vanguard saw an estimated net inflow of $332.2 billion in the 12 months ended February, dwarfing its closest competitor, iShares, by more than $130 billion.

The Malvern, Pa., fund complex has been struggling with customer service problems as the money rolled in.

Vanguard told InvestmentNews in February 2017 that the company was investing heavily in digital technologies and mobile applications to improve efficiencies. And Vanguard's employees are trained in an "all hands on deck" service mode when difficulties arise.

"Vanguard may say that they are spending money on people and processes but they just can't seem to catch up to the service issues that continue to plague their operations," said Dan Wiener, editor of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors, a newsletter.

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