Companies use registrars to keep a register of who owns their shares.
There are three main registrars in the UK, (Capita, Equiniti and Computershare). They keep lists of all the registered owners and they can trace ownership back, sometimes for many years.
They can provide valuable help for investors who have lost paper share certificates or have moved house, forgotten to inform the relevant organisations and want to reclaim past dividends. They ensure that dividends are paid to the right individuals and company information is sent out in a timely manner.
They can also trace the history of the company, such as whether it has changed its name, gone bankrupt, merged with another company or been taken over.
When an investor buys a share, using a nominee account, the share register shows the name of the nominee company, rather than the investor’s own name. This does not affect the investors’ legal rights to ownership and they are known as beneficial owners of shares.