Public companies typically use transfer agents to keep track of the individuals and entities that own their stocks and bonds. Most transfer agents are also banks or trust companies, but sometimes a company acts as its own transfer agent.
Transfer agents perform three main functions:
- Issue and cancel certificates to reflect changes in ownership. For example, when a company declares a stock dividend or stock split, the transfer agent issues new shares. Transfer agents keep records of who owns a company's stocks and bonds and how those stocks and bonds are held—whether by the owner in certificate form, by the company in book-entry form, or by the investor's brokerage firm in street name. They also keep records of how many shares or bonds each investor owns.
- Act as an intermediary for the company. A transfer agent may also serve as the company's paying agent to pay out interest, cash and stock dividends, or other distributions to stock- and bondholders. In addition, transfer agents act as proxy agent (sending out proxy materials), exchange agent (exchanging a company's stock or bonds in a merger), tender agent (tendering shares in a tender offer), and mailing agent (mailing the company's quarterly, annual, and other reports).
- Handle lost, destroyed, or stolen certificates. Transfer agents help shareholders and bondholders when a stock or bond certificate has been lost, destroyed, or stolen. Also a medallion signature stamp officer is the transfer agent.
Transfer Agent has normally to perform a due diligence to comply with Anti Money Laundering requirements and regulations in order to properly identify the entities involved in the business concerned and/or to ensure that counterpaties services providers have equally performed a due diligence and adopted all Anti Money Laundering measures necessary to identify clients eventually provided.
- Note: this article was originally based on public domain text from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website
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