Stock Certificate with my name on it
September 26, 2011 10:49 PM   Subscribe

If I want to buy some shares of stock, and definitely get a printed stock certificate with my name on it, will any broker do?

I seem to recall that Charles Schwab, eTrade, TD/Ameritrade etc. will pretend to buy your stock, and pretend to hold your certificate "for" you, I could be wrong. But I definitely want the certificate mailed to me. What should I do?
posted by shipbreaker to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That's the default, but they will all send you the certificate for a fee (ETrade gets $40).
posted by Bokononist at 11:13 PM on September 26, 2011

If you just want one share of stock as a collectable, you can use one of the many services that do this, and get a frame for the certificate at the same time if you'd like. For larger orders, most any broker should be willing to send you the actual certificate in your name (as opposed to having the securities held in "street name"), probably for an extra fee. Holding the certificates yourself also means complications when you want to sell, if you lose the certificates, or change your address. The SEC has more to say on this topic.

There seems to be a subtext in your question that implies that buying securities held in street name is some kind of sham. Is there some reason behind this? Practically everyone dispenses with the physical certificates, because it's widely considered to be cheaper, safer, and more reliable. I know that I'm far more likely to lose track of a bunch of stock certificates in a safety deposit box somewhere as opposed to the investments my broker maintains, inventories in my monthly statements, and makes available through their website.

You might be interested in the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which is a system vaguely like the FDIC that protects investors if their broker-dealers become insolvent. As that article points out: "By law, investors' assets and the brokerage's assets must be segregated; they may not be commingled." In other words, your broker doesn't use your investment funds to trade for itself; your investments are earmarked for your own use and are to be returned to you if the firm goes under (not legal advice, speaking in generalities here). In the history of our modern financial system, the number of losses as a result of the failure of a registered broker-dealer is astonishingly small. This Forbes article explains some of these issues as well.

Investing provides plenty of ways to get royally screwed. Having your shares held in street name isn't one I would worry about.
posted by zachlipton at 11:55 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another consideration is that it is surprisingly expensive to replace lost stock certificates. Apparently, they can't actually cancel the original certificate, so you need to buy insurance just in case it actually turns up. In my case, it was 2% of the market value, so $10,000 in stock would cost $200 to replace if you ever lost those shares.
posted by smackfu at 6:04 AM on September 27, 2011

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