Getting your share

Own shares? Don't forget to claim your dividends.

Small shareholders have failed to claim over pounds 300m worth of the share dividends that are due to them, new research has just revealed.

The research was conducted by the Unclaimed Assets Register (UAR). The managing director of UAR, Keith Hollender, says: "There can be various reasons why dividend cheques are not paid in, but in most cases, it is due to the fact that the company has the wrong address on its share register.

"That is not usually the company's fault - it is more likely that the shareholder has not notified it of a change of address."

Bankers have responded to UAR's findings by urging savers to take their dividends as direct transfers rather cheques. All this would require is filling out the direct credit mandate which about 80 per cent of shareholders are sent along with their dividend cheques.

Direct credits are the mirror image of direct debits. Instead of automatically taking money out of your account, they automatically put money in.

BACS, which runs the banks' automated clearing process, says 46 per cent of people claim they would like to get their dividends by direct credit, but only 30 per cent actually do so.

Mike Jeremy, a BACS spokesman, says: "The excitment of receiving a cheque is not the ideal context for people to concentrate on the dividend payment they are going to get in six months' time and how they prefer it to be paid."

Some of the shareholders surveyed by BACS see the cheque as proof positive that the dividend has been paid. But Mr Jeremy points out that each direct- credit payment generates a tax-credit voucher, sent through the post. This confirms the date and amount of the payment, together with details of the account into which it has been paid.

ProShare, a lobby group which works at promoting wider share ownership, is supporting BACS' call for more direct-credit payments.

Tony Hobman, who took over as ProShare's chief executive last Monday, says: "In principle, anything that ensures people get their dividends is a good thing, People have invested in the company paying the dividend - they own that company - and one of the benefits of ownership is that the company pays you a dividend. It is yours."

UAR plans to launch a service later this year allowing shareholders to find missing dividends from any number of companies with a single search. Mr Hollender hopes this search will cost shareholders no more than pounds 15 per person.

Mr Hollender says: "With the co-operation of the registrars, we should be able to create a database which will make it as easy as possible for shareholders to find out whether they are entitled to something. In many cases, the time when that is most appropriate is when someone dies, an executor is winding up the estate, and he has got to get in all the assets."

Until that service is up and running, your best bet of tracking down any dividends that you may be owed is via the company whose shares you own. Call the head office telephone number and ask for either the shareholder services department or the company secretary's office.

Yellow Pages, directory enquiries or the Stock Exchange Year Book in your local library are all possible starting points. Before picking up the phone, arm yourself with details of your shareholding and a note of any previous addresses where you have lived since buying the shares.

Mr Hobman says: "If you think you are owed dividends, or you are not sure, go and check with the company. They should have records which show whether you have any dividends that are not claimed and, in principle, you should be able to get that sorted out fairly quickly."

Beware of companies which write to you out of the blue saying they have discovered dividends or other assets belonging to you, and offering to tell you about them for a percentage fee. These companies' charges are high and the information they offer is often no more than you could uncover for yourself with an hour or two's work.

Dividends which remain unclaimed after 12 years revert to the company which issued them.

Unclaimed Assets Register: Bath & West Buildings, Lower Bristol Road, Bath BA2 3EG (01225 461006)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones