05 May Don’t Blindly Rely On The Quantity Of Shares Reflected In Your Brokerage Account
You will often see a message such as the following when you click on the portfolio in your brokerage account. The wordings may differ but the meaning is the same.
The Portfolio… will not be updated for trades performed with other brokers or for any corporate actions taken on these shares. Information contained within these pages are also subject to manual updates made by clients. Clients should always confirm their actual holdings with CDP or their CPF Investment Agent Banks.
This is to warn you that you should not trust the figures shown on your brokerage account. This is because the account is not linked to your CDP and any changes to the quantity of shares would not be automatically reflected in your brokerage account. I will share with you 6 scenarios:
#1 Change of Stock Symbol
You may have noticed that a counter you used to own suddenly disappears from your account. You did not remember you sold it but it isn’t there anymore.
Make no mistake, you still own the stock. It is likely the stock has changed its symbol and your brokerage account does not replace the entry with the new symbol.
This is very common in the past one year as many stocks went for consolidation to meet SGX’s Minimum Trading Pricce (MTP) criteria. In the process of consolidation, the stocks changed their stock symbols.
If unsure, always login to your CDP account and check your holdings. It is the most accurate. If you still have the stock, you can manually add the stock into your brokerage account.
#2 Multiple brokerage accounts
Some investors have more than one stock brokerage account. Since stocks are stored with CDP, you can buy from one broker and sell it through another broker, as long as both of them are SGX Trading Members.
However, when you use different brokers to buy and sell, your portfolio in both accounts would not tally. One would still show you have the stocks while the other might show that you have a short position.
Hence, you need to be careful when you use multiple brokerage accounts to transact. When in doubt, always refer to your CDP.
#3 Share Split and Consolidation
This should be the most obvious scenario because the number of shares definitely will change. Splits will increase the number of shares while consolidations will decrease the number of shares.
Similarly, the quantity is not automatically adjusted in your brokerage account.
Some investors might be worried to see their stock price ‘dropped’ significantly after a stock split or be surprised by the ‘jump’ in prices after a share consolidation, misleading them to sell their holdings.
Investors have to manually adjust the quantity after the split and consolidation. Failing to do so might result you to sell a wrong quantity some time down the road.
#4 Bonus Issue
Bonus shares are given for free to shareholders and they are not automatically adjusted in your brokerage account.
The day the stock goes Exclude Bonus shares (XB), the share price is likely to decrease proportionately to the increased share base.
You would need to adjust it manually.
Read more about what is bonus issue.
#5 Subscribed to Rights Issue
Rights issue are optional for investors to subscribe to unless they are mandatory and tradeable.
When you subscribe to the rights, which are essentially more shares, you communicate with the issuer and hence your broker does not know about these additional shares you are going to receive.
Your CDP should reflect the additional shares after the allotment date and you can update your brokerage account accordingly.
Read more about what is a rights issue.
#6 Pledged Shares For Sale In Voluntary Cash Offer
At some point of your investing journey, you might receive a cash offer from a big investor/s to buy over your shares. The announcement would be made public and the offer price known.
You may feel it is a fair price and decide to sign and return the acceptance letter to sell your shares.
After you have done so, the brokerage account would still reflect you ‘own’ the shares but it is no longer the case in reality. Thus, check your CDP and delete the counter from your brokerage subsequently.
These are 6 common scenarios that investors must take note of when the quantity of shares is affected.
You do not want to sell shares you do not own and forced to buy back eventually.
I hope given the push for technology, our brokerage accounts should be integrated with CDP, and minimise the need for such manual tracking. People are busy and do not keep on top of their investments all the time.