Investors in the equity market are usually excited to hear the word ‘dividend.’ To most of them, it means the fruit of their labour and returns on their investments.
One good thing about dividends is that the more shares you own, the more money you are guaranteed to receive every time dividends are declared.
However, quarterly reports by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show that the value of unclaimed dividends rose from N37 billion in December 2010 to N180 billion at the end of 2021.
This represents a 386.48% increase in the past 11 years, despite measures put in place by the SEC to checkmate the rise.
It raises concerns that the value has continued to grow and serve little or no economic gain as some stock investors in the Nigerian capital market continue to leave their dividends untouched.
While shareholders have different reasons for not claiming their dividends including lack of information, multiple subscriptions, challenges in the processing of the funds, forgotten investments, death or some other reasons, among others, it is important to sustain continuous financial literacy to help bring more funds to investors’ wallet and reduce the rising value of the unclaimed dividend.
Market regulators have continued to urge urged investors in the capital market to register for e-dividend so that they can receive the benefits of their investments in the capital market.
E-dividend is the process of paying dividends to shareholders through a direct credit into their chosen bank account rather than the issuance of dividend warrants through the postal system.
Speaking to Nairametrics, Mr David Adonri of Hicap Securities and Mr Mike Eze of Crane Securities Limited explained that with the introduction of e-dividend payment, all shareholders need to do to get paid is to fill out an e-dividend mandate form.
They also discussed detailed steps to follow to get your e-dividend, as highlighted below.
Verify your unclaimed dividend: The first thing you need to do is check if you have an unclaimed dividend. This can be done through your stockbroker or on the SEC database for non-mandated accounts at (www.sec.gov.ng/non-mandated).
The online portal can help investors to check if they have unclaimed dividends by simply inputting their names in a search box and seeing the list of companies they have an unclaimed dividend.
Get to know your Registrars: All quoted firms on the floor of the Nigerian Exchange Limited have a Registrar that manages their outstanding shares and other issues on their behalf. These issues include dividends, public offers, and share certificates. Hence, for your dividend to be paid, you need to know your registrar.
Sign a Share Transfer Form: After knowing your Registrars, the next thing is to obtain and sign a share transfer form for each of the shares you own from the stockbroker.
Specifically, the forms authorize the stockbroker to act as your agent, thereby giving them the power to process your unpaid dividends with your respective registrars.
Depending on the stockbroker, the service typically requires a fee which could be a flat amount or percentage of the expected dividends.
Another alternative is to approach the registrars one by one by yourself just to sort the issue out but this is more time-consuming than using a stockbroker.
Processing E-Dividend activation form: The next step to take is getting an e-dividend activation form for registration which will put an end to the incidences of unpaid dividends. By registering for E-dividends, your registrars simply credit your bank account whenever a dividend is paid out by any of your companies.
This process completely avoids the more common paper dividends and has the added benefits of ensuring that you never lose your dividends and that they get paid to you on time.
A typical E-dividend form will contain the name of the bank which you intend your dividend to be paid into, the address of the bank, the name and address of the shareholder, the name of the stockbroker, email address, company seal (if it is a registered company) among others.
Visit your choice of bank: This is the time to take the completed and signed copy of the e-dividend mandate form to your bank of choice as well sign.
It is however preferable to use one bank only for your e-dividends to avoid more stress of having to visit multiple banks and going through the same process all over again. Another advantage one bank gives you is that it makes dividend monitoring very easy as you only have to check one bank statement when it’s time to reconcile your dividends.
Return signed e-dividend mandate form: You can now return the e-dividend mandate form which has been duly signed by your broker or registrar to complete the process on your behalf.
While this ensures your subsequent dividends are paid directly into your bank account, you can make enquiries on the status of your unpaid dividend having done what you are supposed to do to be earning your dividend as when due.
However, with the recent policy, unclaimed dividends of more than three years are forwarded to the Accountant General of the Federation by the registrars where the fund will be managed until investors affected made a formal payment request through their registrars having completed the processes of the e-dividend payment system.
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