“Online Only” Direct Stock Purchase Plans, from Computershare

Computershare, the largest stock transfer agent in the U.S. and the world, recently created an interesting new service:  a direct stock purchase and dividend reinvestment plan (DSPP) which is entirely online; i.e., no physical plan materials, no paper statements, no checks.  It is called simply DirectStock.

Here are the many Pro’s, and very few Con’s, to this service:


  • No plan establishment charges to the company.
  • No out-of-pocket expense to the company (or shareholder) because there is no paper.
  • No plan administration or transaction fees for the company, because all fees are paid by the shareholder.
  • Shareholder-paid fees are no more than industry-standard, and there are no initial enrollment fees.
  • If the company pays Computershare per-shareholder stock transfer administration fees, there is no extra stock transfer administration fee for new DirectStock participants.
  • Simpler plan logistics – fewer moving parts.
  • Convenient and cost-effective for companies who do not have a DSPP, but have wanted to “punch that ticket” for a long time.
  • Convenient and cost-effective also for companies who want to lower the cost of, and simplify, the old DRIP/DSPP they have in place.


  • Plan design cannot be customized.
  • Participants must accept online-only transaction capability and support.
  • DirectStock plans are exclusively agent-sponsored, involving share sourcing from the stock market only.
  • Plans can therefore not be issuer-sponsored, via an SEC S-3 filing, allowing the sourcing of stock from new company shares (raising new capital) – and, the plan cannot be actively marketed. That said, a DirectStock plan could be replaced by a more traditional company- or agent-sponsored DSPP any time the company wanted.

This new service makes a lot of sense for most public companies, and many DSPP participants.  Of course, it is a far cry from the original DRIP and DSPP concept of issuer-paid-fees and plentiful hand-holding for the moms and pops these plans were originally designed to serve.  But today, participant-paid fees in DRIP/DSPPs are becoming only more prevalent, as is the online self-service model (for a fee) across all company service types.

So Computershare is ahead of the curve on this one.  Kudos to them!