Earlier this month I read this Times article concerning disgruntled clients of Barclays’ Smart Investor platform. It highlights once again the longstanding issue that changing your provider of share trading services (stockbroker or platform) is often a painful process. It is not unusual for the switch to take several months, during which you may not be able to sell shares that you own or access funds held in your account.
I find this unacceptable in the 21st century, when modern IT systems ought to make the process rapid and straightforward (especially for the transfer of cash, which ought to happen in a matter of days, at most, not weeks or months). These delays are anti-competitive, acting as a deterrent for customers to seek a better provider when they are dissatisfied with their current one.
The FCA has recognised this problem with bank account providers and forced them to improve. It is time for the FCA to recognise that a similar problem exists for share dealing services, to investigate, and force platforms and brokers to get their acts together.
I intend to write to the FCA requesting this action, on behalf of ShareSoc members. In order for this to be effective, however, I need evidence of problems that shareholders have experienced in switching their provider. So, if you have experienced such problems please email me with details of your bad experience at mark.bentley (at) sharesoc.org (replace ” (at) ” with @ in the email address) and I will pass them on to the FCA.