What is a Transfer Agent?
Definition of 'Transfer Agent'
Stock transfer agents are financial institutions that are appointed by a corporation to act as the master stockholder recordkeeper and perform any transactions that may affect the registered stock and/or shareholders for that company. In addition to maintaining records, transfer agents perform the issuance and cancellation of stock certificates, corporate action processing, dividend disbursements, and proxy and shareholder meeting tabulations.
Transfer agents perform three main functions:
- Issue and cancel certificates to reflect changes in ownership. For example, when a company declares a stock dividend or stock split, the transfer agent issues new shares. Transfer agents keep records of who owns a company’s stocks and bonds and how those stocks and bonds are held—whether by the owner in certificate form, by the company in book-entry form, or by the investor’s brokerage firm in street name. They also keep records of how many shares or bonds each investor owns.
- Act as an intermediary for the company. A transfer agent may also serve as the company’s paying agent to pay out interest, cash and stock dividends, or other distributions to stock and bondholders. In addition, transfer agents act as proxy agent (sending out proxy materials), exchange agent (exchanging a company’s stock or bonds in a merger), tender agent (tendering shares in a tender offer), and mailing agent (mailing the company’s quarterly, annual, and other reports).
- Handle lost, destroyed, or stolen certificates. Transfer agents help shareholders and bondholders when a stock or bond certificate has been lost, destroyed, or stolen. Also, if you hold securities in your own name and want to transfer or sell them, you may need to get your signature "medallion guaranteed" before a transfer agent will accept the transaction.
Learn how to find the transfer agent for your stock:
In many cases, you may find out which transfer agent a company uses by searching the company on OTCmarkets.com and selecting the Company Info tab for that company. You may also want to visit the company's investor relations' website, call the company directly, or ask your broker. If you are looking to find out who the prior transfer agent was, usually the current agent should know. However, if all of the other prior mentioned methods do not work, you can search the companies previous SEC filings at http://sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/companysearch.html.
For more information please visit the Securities and Exchange Commission's website at www.sec.gov.