Changes in the Transfer Agent Landscape:
Shareowner Online Sold

The second largest transfer agent in the U.S., Shareowner Online, at https://www.shareowneronline.com/, has changed ownership. As of February 1, 2018, Wells Fargo sold the transfer agent business to Equiniti Group. Equiniti uses the initials EQ.

Who is Equiniti?
Their press release says:

Equiniti is the UK’s leading provider of shareowner and associated investor services, and has market leading positions in administration of stock plans, pensions, and employee benefit plans. Equiniti dates back to 1836, when they started paying pensions to the UK Armed Forces. Since 1951, Equiniti has provided the same core services in the UK as we do in the US. They look after 70 percent of companies listed on the FTSE 100 including Citi Group, HSBC, Royal Dutch Shell, and Tesco. Equiniti’s services benefit 33 million people in the UK and 120 countries around the world.

In the post How I Invest, I mentioned I often use transfer agents to purchase stock, and I own shares in a number of companies through Shareowner Online as transfer agent. So while the sale of a transfer agent is news, it may or may not have any affect on owners of stocks in companies that use this transfer agent.

What could change: Maybe nothing. Maybe service could change. Maybe fees could change. Maybe… who knows?

Wells Fargo certainly has been in the news in the last year or two, and not all for positive coverage. So I suspect they are looking to reduce the size and complexity of the company. So it would not be a surprise for such a change to occur.

Wells Fargo is currently under a consent decree set by the Federal Reserve that prevents the bank from growing beyond its current size. By selling one or more units, it has more flexibility to grow elsewhere in the company.

Shareowner Online’s website, https://www.shareowneronline.com/, has been updated with the logo of Equiniti. Otherwise things look just about the same so far. Time will tell if there are any other major changes.

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