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Boring, boring, this is not boring, it is money. My fascination of buying shares started when I was first 16 and I told my dad to buy shares on my behalf. I won a few quid back during the early to mid 1990's, and invested in this area until I went to University in 1999. I avoided all forms of investments and have only started to pick up the bit, and recently have started investing money properly.
------------------------ The Share Centre ------------------------
This is an on line stock broking service where people can buy and sell shares on the telephone or over the Internet. I have had an account with the Share Centre for the past two years and use it because I want to save some of my money in shares. Companies’ shares are stocks that are traded on the London stock exchange. The hours where the stock market is open is Monday to Friday 8:00am until 4:30pm. I have found that the worst days to buy shares to be on a Friday as there is a sell off occasionally on Friday. Also buying the shares on a Monday up until Thursday is a better stock market investment idea in principle. I have been able to invest in companies stocks and preference shares quite well over the past 8 months especially as I have made a small portfolio of 10 shares with a few hundred Pounds in each company. I therefore will receive company stock dividends but I will also be risking money if in the event the share price falls, and will be rewarded as and when the stock prices of the shares that I hold increase in price.
It is relatively easy to open a share dealing account with the Share Centre. There are no costs to open the account.
I have tended to use the On line service at the Share Centre because the charges of executing the share buying or selling transactions to be lower compared to the charges of using the telephone. The Share Centre have a well organised and useful call centre where by account holders can call the team to make a deposit or withdrawal request or they can ask for companies stock prices over the telephone.
The only thing I have against the Share Centre is that the costs of holding a portfolio of say 10 companies stocks is that you would have to pay dealing costs, as well as having a trader option fee which I was charged £23,50p for one quarter. This is in effect a double charge, one for making the transaction and another fee to hold the shares in an account.
It appears gone are the days of the Share Centre's Batch dealing service which was a basic charge of £2,50 to buy shares as I received an e mail from the Share Centre at the time of writing which stated that this service was longer available. I used this service a few times and I must admit I hate paying more for buying shares.
Some of my investments largely due to the 'sell in May and come back at St Leger Day' in September principle, means that shares are not traded so much during this period from May-September. I have some unrealised losses at the moment as well as some profits that I have made in the past. On the whole I feel that I am not losing any money because I hold around 70% of my fund in fixed income preference shares which pays fixed interest every 6 months. This dividend and fixed interest gets paid into my Share Centre account and is shown in the cash section of the account as and when the money is paid by the company that I have invested money with. The remaining dud shares I hold are large liquid companies some with news problems. I tend to try and offset the charges I face in paying quarterly charge for the trader option by trying to identify the bottom prices such as the case in BP shares which fell have fallen heavily over the past 2 months at the time of writing. I managed within 2 days June to make £20 on a paltry small holding of £400. At this moment in time I would not touch BP shares because of the bigger picture that keeps identifying more bad news surrounding the Gulf of Mexico tar oil spill.
The good thing about using the on line services of the Share Centre is that people can deposit and withdraw money, subject to proof of bank details. I have some issues surrounding the use of the Share Centre services, because the use of the service is seemingly limited to companies and stocks listed on the London stock market. There are some German and some other European listed shares that I can buy, but I can not buy or sell American Dow Jones, Nasdaq shares. I suppose that I could if I phoned the Share Centre, but I would not know if I was getting a good price because difference between the spread betting firms information price quotes and the share centre prices might not be good. So this is the reason why I tend to avoid looking at American and overseas stocks.
The charges I find if holding a few shares to be good, because I tend be charged £7.50p plus stamp duty on buying the shares. I have found that the charges are lower compared to the bank services. I do not receive share certificates, but I do receive dividends and preference share interest as and when the companies declare and pay these dividend profit distributions.
The site is organised well as I can search quite easily a company that interests me and I can make informed decisions based on past performance and have some idea of what I am buying. I can look at the financial performance of a company and make my decision based on this information. I can also search for recent news announcements.
When requesting to order a number of shares in a company, I find that the speed of the Share Centre website to be very good. It is not excellent because there is a short time delay. I noticed when I owned a lot of shares in a company that the price quoted were not good, so I therefore had to sell the shares in smaller lots. I know that the prices of the shares to be very competitive and are based on real time movements.
I can track how much money I have invested at ease, although after about 50 trades, the screen displays seemingly only recent transactions. I can not find the trades I made 2 years ago. It is a good service overall, but the prices displayed on the Share Centre of the shares I own, are subject to a 15 minute delay. So all is not perfect at the Share Centre. For up to date information I have to use spread betting firms information prices for the latest moves and price indications.
There have been a few times when I have had to contact the Share centre when I opened the account and when I wanted to withdraw a small amount of money from the cash I had held in the account.
I can also view past orders, see open orders that I might have placed, but above all the summary of the account section is the main feature of the account. Here I can view the shares I own, the price of the shares, how much it has gained over 1 day and how much I am winning or losing overall since I bought the shares. Also to make life easier there is a buy and sell section on the account summary stage. This enables me so that I can buy or sell the relevant shares I own, and I can add or sell some or all of them in a few clicks.
Another good feature of the Share Centre is that there is a section of Annual general meetings in which you can find the time and address details. When investing in companies with AGM's investors can attend meetings, and can accept the invitation to visit, and also vote in AGM corporate matters. All of these features are within the Share Centre account section. Companies that have announced scrip dividends and also rights issue (cash raising schemes) can accept or do nothing with their shareholding. A rights issue means paying extra money in order to be allocated extra shares and shareholder rights.
When I order and buy or sell the shares of a company, I can do this in a matter of a few clicks. The transaction prices as I have mentioned are on the whole up to date an accurate. I receive confirmation of the order after I have accepted the offer of the Share Centre and the money I have in my account is taken straight away. The downside to the transaction process is that there is a 3 day delay in the cash amount in the account section from being updated. The money moves instantly but the cash movement takes three working days to fully settle.
I doubt that I will need the services of the Share Centre too much in the future but the website is safe and secure. The charges in my view are reasonable and fair. I do not find that there are compelling reasons to change stock broking services.
Another reason I hold shares is because there are some companies that offer shareholder perks and benefits. There is a relevant page on Hargreaves Lansdowne website that lists and details all the major companies offering shareholders some perks and benefits in holding their shares. This is a small reason because some stocks require investment of around £1000 before qualifying for a shopping discount. My favourite shareholder benefit is the National Grid plc, who pay for shareholders travel to a conference during their Annual General Meeting. Other companies include Next plc and Whitbread plc but I do not know the extent of these perks as the qualifying investment level is quite high indeed.
Some shares qualify for perks depending on if you own the share certificate as opposed to the nominee accounts. The Share Centre is where you own the shares but not on certificates. For certificated shares the best way is to find a pure stock broking firm who are likely to have higher dealing charges.
I find the Share Centre website to be good, but not excellent as I would have liked to trade in American stocks as well as the British companies. I can buy preference shares as well as ordinary stock easily. But for government bonds, investment trust stocks I would have to ring up the share centre and pay a higher transaction fee. Similarly for American stocks I could buy them, but again the transaction fee is higher than in using the On line service.
People with Share Centre accounts can research the markets which effectively allows people to screen shares using a performance, earnings per share growth or dividend yield basis. I find this service quite helpful because I can quickly identify a few stocks that are good dividend paying companies. I would then find when they are paying and how recent the information is. At times I use this information along with being about to look more extensively at a particular companies news and financial performance in making better investment decisions. I would not rely solely on share tips in magazines.
The dealing costs vary i.e. £7.50 To sell, and a similar amount to buy the shares. If holding a small number of shares the transaction costs would appear high. If you order for example £50,000 in one transaction then the total dealing charges would be around £200-300 in transaction costs, and a more reasonable £7.50p figure to sell. When selling or buying you are given about 10 seconds to accept and reject an up to date price, and after this time, the price quoted might have changed either for better or for slightly worse than before.
At this time, I have not withdrawn any money from my Share Centre account. I intend to keep the preference shares I have for absolute ages until I reach 75 years old, and perhaps I will at some stage in the future sell my ordinary shares but only if they are showing a reasonable profit.
There are people that are scared of the stock market, and others that have some money and of course there are other people that have loads of money in stock market accounts. I am of the opinion that there is money to be made in the stock market, and I seek to find bargain shares from now until September. The stock market since the UK's 2010 general election has fallen from around a level of 5500 to around 5070 which is the level of the FTSE 100 index at the time of writing. I have invested funds from my own pocket and am aware of the consequences and risks as well as the rewards that can be made on the stock market. My own view is long term and I do not feel that I can get rich quick on this system. This requires a lot of money invested and plenty of time as well of patience. I have trusted my money with the Share Centre and feel that this is definitely a credible and safe place to invest money.
------------------------ My Own Investing ------------------------
This is a subject that I do not want to cover, because I simply have saved around £5,000 in the past year have made profits of around £1,500 and have some unrealised losses of around £400 at the moment. The companies I bought and sold were big mining companies such as Kazakhyms plc, Antofagasta plc. These shares have been sold a while ago. I now own fixed interest paying Preference shares, shares in an oil company and also an electricity company. Overall big deal lol. I do not trade that regularly, but occasionally there are days when things go well. Other days it is a case of an avalanche of rain falling down on my head. But I take things into context and do not mind risk, especially at my age of 32.
I now am able to receive dividends based on the amount of shares I hold and according to the payment made by companies that I own shares in. I am combining risk and reward in holding shares.
I would like to own corporate bonds and treasury stock i.e. UK Government bonds, but these Government and Treasury stock pay a lower coupon rate compared to some leading preference shares. The prices of these investments, I would have to ring up the share centre phone number in order to get a price. I would prefer if everything was done On line in terms of investments. Nothing in life is perfect.
------------ Charges ------------
£7,50 each transaction for buying and selling. Stamp duty of 0.5% on purchases of stock. Upon buying preference shares, there is 0.5% stamp duty again on purchases. There is a £1 fee charge of transaction over £10,000. The trader option is £20 plus VAT for each quarter. This will cost around £100, to be able to buy and sell shares at £7,50p for each transaction. If you make around 10 transactions each quarter, comparing this to more expensive Share dealing Stock broking firms, then you will be saving money on these frequent transactions. If you day trade stock and shares, then this is a sensible option.
------------------------ Extra Information ------------------------ Website http://share.com/ 01296 41 41 41 Website is Best Broker according the Investors Chronicle magazine Best small cap broker according to the Shares Magazine as found on the Share Centre website.
I find the Share Centre is a reliable and well organised website. I doubt it is the fastest or speediest site in terms of processing transactions, and on a website basis alone, I feel that the stock broking services of Barclays, RBS etc must have a sharper and more crisp feel than the Share Centre. I do like the Share Centre because it is low cost, and also the charges are fair. I find that my investments more than cover the charges from the Fixed Interest paid from my holdings of Preference Shares by 6 times at present, but I hope to make my investments count for in excess of 20 times the Share Centre charges in the next 2 years.
The Share Centre also provide ISA's, Pensions and other investment products all of which appear to be savings related. Unfortunately as I do not currently work, I have not applied for lower paying, yet secure savings products. So I unfortunately can not comment on this part of all of the services offered.
--------------------- Other Features ---------------------
There is a watch list section of shares, whereby people can add popular shares or any shares they want to that section. It is quite useful doing this as it gives a good indication of how much gain or loss in that share has been made since adding that stock to the watch list. Also in the account section if you have the trader option, is that you are given a fantasy £15,000 cash to set up a portfolio of shares. In that section, I have not used this so far, as I do not want to give the Share Centre my performance or any other information that might seem unnecessary. Important daily news is also given along with research views of markets. The Share Centre also quarterly send a magazine free of charge to my address with share tips, and market sector advice and potential investment strategies. I tend to ignore most of the Share Centre tips, as I prefer to research and trade my own way.
When I have telephoned the Share Centre, I have found them to answer the calls in a routine call answering system. I have noted that the time taken to answer the calls to be quite quick, and also the call options are very simple and limited. Press 1 for share dealing, press 2 for customer services. How simple is that?
When I buy or sell shares, I receive an e mail confirmation, as I prefer things done simply, and have changed the system where by they used to send me order and statement documentation, which I did not find to be of much use. I am dealing in my own money and have no time for playing games.
I would recommend the share buying and selling facilities of the Share Centre, I have used the website and have had no account problems, or major issues with the website. I have deposited money with no costs and am aware that there are no costs associated with making withdrawals. The only costs to bear in mind are the share buying and selling costs as well as the trader option facility. Overall I would not use the more expensive market choices of using other stock broking services, because I only have a small pot invested and I find the charges to be clear and fair.
4 out of 5 stars. Would have been a perfect 5, but they recently withdrew the Batch buying option and also the confusing part of not being able to buy American shares, corporate bonds and some other investments On line.