In Australia, there is an estimated $1 billion worth of lost shares and $140 million in dividends owed to individuals who have, for whatever reason, forgotten, lost or never known that they owned them.
A Share Registry is a term that not many of us have a lot of familiarity with, but we should. Is it possible that you could have lost stock shares and dividends?
Share Registry Defined
In the most basic terms a share registry is a catalogue of stocks and stock holders. Every company who issues capitalised stock must, by law, keep a record (themselves or through a service) of certain basic information. For the company, the share registry must list:
- The date when an issue of shares was made
- The number of shares in each issue
- The class (or classes) of shares, common, preferred etc.
- The share numbers or share certificate numbers of the shares if numbered
- The information on the financial state of all shares, are they fully paid, optioned etc.
An Australian share registry must also maintain information on the stock (issue) holders of each share. The minimum amount of information that the share registry should maintain on shareholders is:
- Their name and address
- The date on which their name was entered in the register
- The number and type of shares held shares held by each member
- Whether any of the shares they hold are not beneficially held
Contacting a Share Registry
Where you have lost contact paperwork or are having difficulty locating your share entitlements, it is best to contact the registry for the company you believe you held shares in. Unfortunately, there is no simple search facility if you do not remember what companies you owned shares in.
As a shareholder you are sometimes entitled to receive dividends and participate in any capital actions such as rights issues, share purchase plans, and dividend re-investment plans. All of these actions are recorded through the company’s ‘Share Registry’. This is also where any changes to personal details need to be recorded. However, if you have not have made these changes between jobs, new addresses, or change of name, your correspondence may not receive you, and you may have unknown monies owing to you.
As a shareholder of an Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) listed Company, you can hold shares in one of two ways, either through a HIN (Holder Identification Number) or a SRN (Security Reference Number).
You will have a HIN (Holder Identification Number) if you have purchased the shares through that broker or brought them into an account with a broker. In this case, you would need to contact your broker for information or to locate and update your shareholding.
You will have an SRN (Security Reference Number) if you have purchased shares directly from the Issuer (without the assistance of a broker), for example if you bought shares at the time of a float, or received employee issued shares.
As a shareholder you may be entitled to receive dividends and participate in any capital actions such as rights issues, share purchase plans, dividend re-investment plans etc. All these actions are recorded through the company’s Share Registry. This is also where your personal details are recorded and where any changes such as change of address etc are made. If you do not make these changes then your correspondence may not receive you.
To update and obtain information about your shares you need to contact the relevant share registry for the company you hold shares in. You can locate contact details of the Share Registry for a company on the Australian Stock Exchange website.