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The Share Centre became possible as a result of the cities "Big Bang" in 1986, but initially came to prominence at the height of the dotcom and demutualisation era in the late 1990's, cashing in on the Building Society demutualisations of the period. It has managed to survive the clear out since the dotcom bubble burst.
The Share Centre provides services to individuals, families and Investment Clubs through it's Share Account and Fast Track services and to businesses by underwriting via the Sharemark scheme. Sharemark is an alternative trading exchange much like the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).
It has to be said that this is one of the cheapest forms of share trading with a minimum of just £2.50 to buy (limited to strict time schedules), and £7.50 to sell (which can be sold by internet traders in normal office hours - approx 8:15 to 4:30). For anyone wishing to toe dip onto the stock exchange this could be the way for you.
If you are new to shares they also have a "Growth and Income Fund" which allows you to put in regular amounts from £20 p.c.m. in which the Share Centre pools savers funds into one "pot" and invests it collectively.
A second pricing system exists for those who do not wish to be restricted to the strict 9a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. dealing times called "Fastrack", and it costs £7.50 per transaction plus £7.50 p.c.m., which might be useful for the quick daytrader type of dealing. This type of account also contains some of the more professional type charting facilities not found in the basic Share Account.
The low transaction costs are not done on the cheap, however, because the Share Centre has industry standard 128 bit encryption software, which is roughly as safe as internet banking.
The interface pages are simple to understand, if a little rigid, broadly composing of a summary page, a detailed list of all your holdings and a share tracking page called "Stockwatch," where by default it logs the ups and downs from the moment you have entered them on the page. This can be useful to see if you were correct in watching the shares (or not in buying them).
Like many Share companies they offer packages, geared towards long term savings and pensions, such as I.S.A.'s (Individual Savings Accounts), S.I.P.P.'s (Self Invested Personal Pensions) PEP's (Personal Equity Plans) etc. Unlike many other companies however, they offer free shares in their own company for some products (check at application for which ones).
The Share Centre shares are not to be sniffed at either, they carry a "Dealing Commission Credit" (DCC) which offers discounts against future trading, so if you are likely to conduct many, of little trades, in effect you are being subsidised by your holding of Share Centre shares to the tune of 3p per Share Centre share, per quarter (payable quarterly in arrears).
The value of the Share Centre shares are 16p as I write, so they represent a significant return on capital employed (ROCE) in their own right (with the inherent risk) Dealing of Share p.l.c. shares cannot be conducted during normal hours though, but are auctioned usually weekly at 3 p.m. every Friday.
From an administrative point of view, transactions are recorded as a "Contract Note," which can be viewed on the site, downloaded or sent to your home address. Share certificates are held in your name since these are nominee accounts. An advice Service exists on-site, and by telephone (01296 414 333)
The "Investors Forum" is an invaluable read for reading what problems other members are having, and how they are answered.
On the negative side, access is a moot point with difficulties noted both on the internet at www.share.com or www.share.co.uk and on the telephone. Time delays can be critical to dealing and expensive, if losses, should you decide to deal on a busy day.
International coverage is also weak, but as I understand it, will be improved quite soon.
However, taken all together the Share Centre offers an inexpensive method to learn the Stock Exchange / share trading in a relatively safe environment with inducements to continue with discounts. Their services are frugal, but encompass the main thrust of most share owners desires.
Personal service is polite and efficient both on the telephone and on the internet, with problems dealt with expediently. Although I would like to see improved access during busy times.
Share p.l.c. currently has over 90,000 shareholders according to their latest Reports and Accounts (2002)with their personal fortunes going awry alongside the main markets deflation of the past two years.
Its good to have a review like this as I always thought it was quite expensive to sell your shares. These sound s bargain - and as soon as my damn Egg shares rise....I might well consider using it, ta!
kadmos 24.08.2003 08:13
Excellent op which responds to important questions!