The websites of US online stockbrokers have an excellent availability record. This was one of the findings in a research by WatchMouse, a company providing monitoring services for websites and e-commerce applications worldwide. Of the 29 US websites that were covered by the research, 18 have an uptime percentage of 99.9% or better, and as many as 10 of these reached the perfect 100% mark.
This makes the US online brokers perform significantly better than their UK counterparts: at a similar research in the UK, just one out of 16 websites researched is available continuously, and five are listed at 99.9%. An uptime level of 99.9% is generally seen as the minimum acceptable level and is often quoted in service level agreements (SLAs) with hosting providers or in-house IT departments.
With a growing percentage of the stock market taking place on the Internet, it becomes ever more important to always be available, with the fastest possible response time. Mark Pors, CTO at WatchMouse claims: "Even more than shopping sites, stockbroker sites cannot afford to be unavailable- the stock business is an always-on business".
In order to determine the extent to which the online stockbrokers achieve satisfactory availability, WatchMouse monitored the websites during the official trading hours of the New York (NYSE) and London stock exchange respectively. During a period of two months, October through November, every five minutes, one of WatchMouse’s monitoring stations accessed the customer login page of the website, which was then expected to download within 8 seconds, without any errors.
The differences are remarkable: US brokers have- almost without exception- a very high availability. Ameritrade Plus, Bank One, Charles Schwab, Cititrade, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Quick and Reilly, Tradingdirect, USAA, and Wellsfargo, were all continuously available throughout the research period. Another eight sites displayed a 99.9% uptime. Not one of the US brokers reported an uptime below the 99% mark. Still, AB Watley Direct, last on the list at 99.04%, adds up to a 1 hours and 20 minutes downtime per month during trading hours.
In the UK the results are far worse. Only Alliance-Leicester maintained the 100% availability, and five others are at 99.9% or up. Two of the 16 UK brokers were even tagged with a "poor availability". Stocktrade is difficult to reach almost two hours per month and Fasttrade a whopping five hours, both during trading hours.
Still, the online stockbrokers have a significantly higher uptime average than other sectors, such as e-shops, government, and news media. WatchMouse reports on these sectors on a regular basis with their 'availability index'.
Online trading trouble
Mark Pors, emphasises the importance of a high uptime for online stockbrokers: "With online securities transactions, the site should be very responsive. After hitting the 'confirm button', you should never have to question whether the order was placed correctly or not. Online brokers understand the importance of being online, and having a fast response time during trading hours."
Companies can easily monitor their own Internet sites using WatchMouse's monitoring service. WatchMouse (watchmouse.com) has been monitoring Internet sites and e-commerce applications for companies throughout the world since 2002. WatchMouse has thousands of customers in more than 70 countries. The services supplied by WatchMouse are available in eight languages, and analyses are performed from various locations and over numerous networks, using a world-wide monitoring network.
WatchMouse was voted a Deloitte Rising Star in the Netherlands, as part of the 2005 Fast 50 awards; the list of the 50 fastest growing technology companies.