Q. We have found share documents relating to shareholding in one of the major banks my father seems to have forgotten he had. He does not remember the stockbroker he bought them from, but we do have a reference, HIN number, what can we do?

A. The HIN is a unique number issued to shareholders by the Australian Stock Exchange when you become a client of a stockbroker. If your father has other shares registered with the same stockbroker, his HIN number should be the same across all his shareholdings.

Assuming the HIN number is different, then he will have acquired these shares from another source. If you have identified the HIN from a CHESS Holding Statement, (CHESS stands for Clearing House Electronic Sub-register System) then the identifier code for the sponsoring broker will be on the CHESS statement. This reference is referred to as a PID (participant identification number). You should be able to search online for the name of the stockbroker from the PID code. If you are referencing this information from a CHESS statement, the name of the sponsoring stockbroker should be on the top right-hand corner of the statement.

If you cannot find this information, I suspect that your father does not have a broker sponsor and his shareholding is “issuer sponsored”. A way of identifying this is there will be a shareholder reference number on the paperwork and it will have an “I” before the number if it is “issuer sponsored”. If there is an X before the number, he has a broker sponsor.

If you do not have a shareholder reference number, you can contact the share registry of the company he owns shares in and request a copy of the holding statement for a nominal cost.

Regardless of whether the shares are held “issuer sponsored” or CHESS sponsored by a stockbroker, you are able to transfer the shares to his existing sponsoring stockbroker without cost. This is normally facilitated by the sponsoring broker at no charge. The primary requirement is that the shares are in exactly the same name as his other holdings including middle names. If this is not the case, you will need to speak with the share registry and request a name change for his holdings and the update of his mailing address if this differs.

He is not obliged to have a relationship with a stockbroker. He may continue to hold these shares as “issue sponsored”. However, he will need to contact a broker or online broking service or a share sale service should he wish to sell his shares on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Q. I have a share portfolio where some of the holdings have a minimal value. How can I sell shares with minimal transaction costs?

A. The most common method to sell shares is via the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) using a broker or online broking service. A full-service broker should provide you with advice on whether to sell or hold your shares. Fees are usually based on a percentage of the value of the shares. Typically a fee will start from around $100.

If you don’t require advice and you are only looking to have the sale of shares executed, an online broking or share sale service may suit you. The cost of selling shares online starts from around $9.50 per trade. A share sale service which does not require you to register an online trading account may cost from $40 per trade. Online comparison sites will provide a guide to features and costs of the various online broking and share sale services available.

The minimum price a share can trade for on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) is 0.1 of a cent. If the holdings are small enough or the shares are worth that little, you may find that the cost of selling the shares may still be more than the value of the shares you wish to sell.

An alternative to selling the shares is to donate the small value parcels to charity. Sharegift Australia is a not for profit organisation that provides shareholders with an easy and tax-deductible way to sell and donate small parcels of shares. There is no cost for the service. 100% of the market value of the shares is donated to the charity you nominate provided the charity has Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. Donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible to the shareholder.

To qualify for this service, the shares must be for an ASX listed company and the value of each shareholding being transferred must be greater than $2. To be donated, eligible shares will need to be either Issuer sponsored or sponsored by a Sharegift Supporting Broker. Sharegift can be contacted at 1300 731 632 or visit www.sharegiftaustralia.org.au