Friday 23 October 2020

The new Australia Vanguard online access really, really sucks!

I've been a Vanguard customer for decades, and currently have both personal investment and our SMSF investments in some Vanguard Index Funds.

Up until this week, we have perfectly good online access to our accounts, able to access transaction history, daily unit prices, and pdf copies of statements etc.

Then they forced all existing retail customers onto their new 'personal' platform, and closed the existing funds to new investments. So, after wasting time 'activating' my new SMSF login using a customised link they sent us, and having to provide three different types of ID details (even though we are existing account holders and provided ID when we opened the accounts, and already had online access via their old platform), it turned out that I'll also have to provide a certified copy of one of the IDs!

Given Covid-19 I'm not going to queue up somewhere to get a photocopy of my ID and then get it certified by a JP (I'm a JP but aren't allowed to certify copies of my own documents - go figure). So I've sent in a jpg of my new digital driver licence (which in NSW the police are happy enough to take as ID - they simply scan the QR code). Authorised businesses can also go online to check the details for a drivers licence number, but Vanguard obviously hasn't bothered to do that (they did have some ID checking built in to the account activation process, but it apparently didn't work - probably because they ask for your name in one screen (where I entered my full name) and then ask separately for middle and surname (and there was no option to 'go back', so it probably failed the automated ID checking process. And no option to try again, or fix typos etc.

The new website is also a total waste of space - the unit price data is harder to navigate to than in the old website, and the whole thing seems to have just been 'dumbed down' to make it mobile phone friendly (and doesn't display well on  laptop). Modern website design autodetects whether the user is browsing using a phone or larger screen, and automatically send appropriate html for the device.

The new system also has only replace having to send in faxes (or mail) for investment instructions (eg. switch from one fund into another) with the ability to send forms electronically via their 'secure message' system once you log in to your account. Most modern financial product websites allow you do transact securely online once you have logged in - eg. switch fund options using an online tool, NOT still requiring investors to fill in forms and send them in to be processed!

Overall, the new Vanguard website and personal investor fund is highly disappointing, and a real pain for existing investors to switch to and activate...

Not surprisingly the new website is displaying a message that they are taking 5 or more days to respond to queries and have long delays on phone enquiries - apparently a lot of their customers aren't happy with the migration.

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