How can I sell old shares?

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A reader has asked: I have discovered shares that I bought 20 years ago and want to sell them with no further trading intended. Who would be the best company to approach? 

Answer: You don’t specify if your shares are held online or are paper certificates. I’m going to assume the latter as selling online shares would be simple through whichever company is currently holding them.

“You can sell your share certificate with any broker,” says Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, “but the fees tend to be higher than for trading electronic shares.”

The best option from a cost basis is to transfer your paper shares onto a platform that offers this service for free, then once the shares have been moved onto the platform you can sell them. Make sure you opt for a service that doesn’t charge you for holding shares.

You will need to open an account and deposit the certificate so it can be converted into an online holding. Once the stock is showing in your account you can sell it either through an online or telephone trade.

You will need to fill out a CREST transfer form – the legal requirement to transfer share ownership – and post it to the investment platform along with the share certificate.

One of the cheaper options is shareDeal Active. They don’t charge for transferring in paper shares. There is a £19.50 fixed commission on dealing in certified shares.

However, you may find a cheaper option if you hold off for a while. “At the moment, not all investment companies are offering this option, so you will have more choice if you are prepared to wait for things to return to normal,” says Coles.

For example, Hargreaves Lansdown has currently suspended its paper certificate transfer process due to the pandemic.

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