Instead of all trades within a set two- or three-week period being settled on the same day, deals will be settled after 10 working days. So if you buy shares on a Monday you will have to pay for them a fortnight later, also on Monday.
For shareholders who deal occasionally and walk into their local bank or building society with a certificate before selling there will be no noticeable changes.
But people trading frequently with a keen eye on their cash flow will have to decide whether they can make the tight deadlines while still holding their own certificates. If there is any doubt they will be better off using a brokers' nominee account. This in effect puts the shares in the hands of the broker.
Brokers are giving out conflicting messages about the change - on the one hand it need not concern most people who will be able to carry on as before. But the new 10-day settlement scheme - called T+10, or trade plus 10 days - is a dress rehersal for T+5 and then T+3. With those tighter deadlines the old ways just will not do.
Barclayshare, unlike some client nominee accounts, will allow clients to order company annual reports, vote, attend annual meetings and receive dividends directly into a current or deposit account.
It will also allow shareholders to keep their perks in most companies. But some companies will not or cannot co-operate.
Barclayshare offers a free booklet showing which companies are in and which out. Among those where the perks cannot be taken from a nominee account are Laura Ashley, Bank of Scotland, Next and P&O. But Sketchley, Boots, Thorntons, Storehouse and Asprey are in the scheme.
The charge for joining the Barclayshare nominee account is pounds 9 a quarter for up to 12 shares and 75p per stock for any further shares. If you want advice the charge is pounds 25 a quarter for up to 25 stocks and unlimited advice over the telephone.
Seymour Pierce Butterfield, which changes its name to Butterfield on Monday, does not charge clients for using a nominee account. They can request reports without charge. The firm also has a booklet detailing companies that offer perks and will pass them across where that is possible.
Waters Lunniss, the stockbroker owned by Norwich & Peterborough Building Society, charges for using the nominee account - pounds 3.75 per share every six months with a minimum charge of pounds 25. It also charges pounds 7.50 when a share is taken out of the nominee name.
If shareholders want to vote or get hold of an annual report they will be charged pounds 20 each time.
Where stock or cash is delivered late Barclayshare will unravel the trade and charge the difference. ShareLink fines late deliverers pounds 40 plus any difference. Killik & Co charges interest on outstanding sums at 3 per cent over base rate.
Barclayshare free perks booklet and rolling settlement pamphlet: 0800 551177. Butterfield share perks booklet: 071-814 8760.
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