In 2015, it should come as no surprise that more and more registered shareholders are comfortable managing their account activity online. What is surprising is how rapidly shareholders are moving to the web.
We monitor shareholder trends and the data we’ve been analyzing from use of our online self-service tools indicates that Internet-based transactions are becoming more favorable. Over the last three years, the number of shareholder requests processed by Investor Center have jumped nearly 75 percent, from just under 250,000 requests in the first quarter of 2012 to more than 430,000 in the same quarter this year – but there are certain areas where the growth is even more pronounced.
The biggest increases were seen in activities related to banking. Replacing lost or missing checks, along with adding or changing direct deposit account information, saw the largest increases in self-service over the three-year period (as well as in the year-over-year averages).
Shareholders have also increasingly taken advantage of the helpful tax support features in Investor Center. Requests for W8 certification had an average annual increase of 26 percent over the three-year window, and W9 certification requests jumped an average of 70 percent.
Purchases and sales of stock remain among the most popular requests on Investor Center. With the easy tools for doing so, the numbers of purchases and sales have ticked up significantly in recent years. Purchase requests had an average increase of 31 percent over three years, while sales went up an average of 15 percent.
Not all the trends for self-service went up – there has been a noticeable decline in certificate issuance requests. As the securities industry works to move away from paper-based certificates, this downward trend indicates that efforts to encourage use of the Direct Registration System are working. Many of our clients have taken advantage of allowing our certificate issuance fee service to further encourage this trend.
With more than two million registered users, Investor Center offers us valuable insight into the needs of shareholders. We will regularly monitor this data to make sure we’re adapting to user preferences and delivering tools to improve the shareholder experience.