While platforms like Cake have made ESOP management easier than ever before, countless Australians remain out of touch with the shares and dividends they’ve already accrued.
It’s so common, in fact, that hundreds of millions are estimated to be sitting in long-forgotten accounts, just waiting to be collected. So how are these assets separated from their rightful owners in the first place, and what can you do if you think you have unclaimed shares?
How are shares lost?
Mishandled Employee Share Schemes
A popular option for Australian workers and business owners since at least the 1970s, employee share schemes are a great way for companies to align employee interests with their own, and for workers to enjoy a slice of their employers success.
They certainly have their merits, but without the help of an intuitive management tool, they can result in investments being lost, forgotten about, or otherwise thrown by the wayside. This is because when companies fail, get suspended, are delisted, or merge with another organisation, employee shares often become buried amidst a labyrinth of obscure databases and difficult-to-access company registrars.
Change of Shareholder Details
Sometimes the cause of lost shares lies with the holder themselves. When life gets in the way, it’s easy to forget to inform the company you’ve invested in about a change in your personal details, such as a new address, updated marital status, or a move overseas.
When this happens, communication about your shares quickly dries up, and the old adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’ proves its relevance once more.
You may be entitled to investments beyond just the ones you’ve made personally. When a relative passes away they often leave behind an array of seldom-discussed company shares. These assets can be life-changing for the beneficiary, but they’re difficult to uncover without a comprehensive investigation.
Investments aren’t always front of mind. We’re human, after all, and with the myriad of other things vying for our attention throughout the day, it’s hard to keep on top of the fluctuating figures of a stock portfolio.
What happens If I don’t reclaim my shares?
Usually, very little happens if you fail to claim your shares. They may appreciate in value over time, but unless you actively seek them out through the help of a dedicated share finding professional, it’s unlikely that you’ll see them again. Companies rarely take it upon themselves to reach out to their investors about dormant nest eggs.
In the worst case scenario, they might even decide to spend your unclaimed funds for you. The NIB Foundation, for example, gave away over $1 million in shareholder dividends after they sat unclaimed for five years. While the money was donated to a worthy cause, it will no doubt come as a surprise to those attempting to reconnect with these funds at a later date. If you want to have any certainty over the way your shares and dividends are spent, it’s important that you recover them as soon as possible.
How can I get them back?
Losing assets is hard enough, so your best bet is to have an experienced share finding business do the work on your behalf. Our top pick is the Queensland-based Investafind. Their professional team reviews your case with unrivaled industry knowledge and technical expertise, so you can rest assured you’re getting all that you’re entitled to.
Starting your claim is as simple as giving the friendly team a call, and once underway, you’ll be kept updated about any matches to unclaimed funds.
Of course, preventing shares from becoming lost in the first place is ideal, which is where Cake Equity comes in. Our platform enables you to distribute, sign, and manage share options with ease. You can also quickly update investor details as needed. Sign up for free today.
This blog is designed and intended to provide general information in summary form on general topics. The material may not apply to all jurisdictions. The contents do not constitute legal, financial or tax advice. The contents is not intended to be a substitute for such advice and should not be relied upon as such. If you would like to chat with a lawyer, please get in touch and we can introduce you to one of our very friendly legal partners.