Share registries, also known as share or securities registrars, have traditionally been responsible for maintaining records of shareholders and managing corporate actions on behalf of listed companies. As with many sectors, the rapid pace of technological evolution has forced share registries to adapt and reinvent their business models to cater to contemporary customer needs. 

Share registries play an often-overlooked role in the administration of companies, both public and private. 

While shareholders are an intrinsic part of a company’s capital structure, they can become an administration nightmare to manage. As companies grow and their shareholder base expands both numerically and geographically (locally and internationally), share registries play an increasingly important role in administration, communication and engagement with shareholders, potential investors and the capital markets more broadly. 

For many years the industry was dominated by a few major players and as a consequence, the industry changed very little. In the 1990’s they began to adopt computer-based technologies and then in the 2000’s they began moving online. But recent technology advances and increased competition from a number of disruptive smaller startups, have driven widespread enhancements to the industry, and much needed improvements both for companies and their shareholders.

3 key ways share registries have embraced technology in the last few years include:

  • Digital Platforms and Dashboards: Modern share registries provide shareholders, and corporate clients, with digital platforms and dashboards to easily view, manage and transact their holdings on a self-serve basis. This not only streamlines operations but also offers a more interactive and engaging real-time experience for shareholders.
  • Automation and AI: Share registries are implementing automation and AI-driven tools to reduce manual processes, speed up services and reduce human error. Machine learning algorithms can be used to predict trends, analyse shareholder behaviours and provide insights to listed companies.
  • E-Voting and Digital AGMs: Partly in response to Covid 19 and the various lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing requirements but also to ensure wider shareholder participation in corporate decisions and general meetings, many share registries now facilitate fully interactive e-meetings and e-voting. Along with the rise of digital Annual General Meetings (AGMs), it has demonstrated the viability of virtual gatherings, making it easier for global shareholders to participate. 

Adoption of SaaS models 

The industry is now rapidly adopting SaaS (Software as a Service) models and the incorporation of customer self-service capabilities. These are among the most prominent shifts in the share registry industry globally, including here in Australia with players like Registry Direct offering a very intuitive shareholder engagement experience. These changes not only reflect the broader move toward digital transformation across sectors but also aim to enhance the easy of customer experience and operational efficiency.  

Let’s delve deeper into how these SaaS adaptations are changing how companies and shareholders engage with their share registry with their transition to cloud-based platforms. 

Cloud-based platforms: 

The shift to cloud-based platforms achieves multiple benefits for the share registry and its corporate customers. Share registries can readily scale their service up or down, based on demand, avoiding major infrastructure investments. The SaaS model often results in reduced IT overhead since software updates, maintenance and infrastructure management are handled by the SaaS provider. 

With the cloud-based model registries, corporate customers and shareholders can access the platform from anywhere, at any time, using any internet enabled device.  

Customer Self-Service Portals: 

Self-service portals empower company administrators to manage routine tasks themselves, offering the control they are demanding. This reduces the volume of queries for share registries, leading to significant cost savings. Some registries, like Registry Direct, even offer self-directed signup and trial to experience the platform. This offer reduces sales and onboarding friction for share registries and can lead to more customers in the long run. 

This self-service option is particularly attractive for unlisted public companies where the volume of share transfer transactions and the number of shareholders is generally much less than their listed counterparts, and where cost is often a key driver in the decision-making process. 

For shareholders, self-service allows them to view holdings and transactions, update personal details, download statements, and more, without needing to engage customer service teams. As a bonus, the self-service model provides enhanced data accuracy for share registries as shareholder details are more likely to be kept up to date. 

Integration Capabilities: 

Many SaaS platforms offer APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that enable integration with other software systems. This means share registries can integrate their platforms with other corporate systems, payment gateways, or third-party apps to create a broader and more seamless user experience. 

Regular Software Updates: 

One of the advantages of SaaS is the regular software updates provided by vendors. This ensures that share registries always have access to the latest features, security patches and best practices without the need for disruptive and costly software overhauls. The same model also allows share registries to easily and regularly release new features, much like the apps on your phone, that legacy registries would struggle to keep pace with. 

Customization & Personalization: 

SaaS platforms in the share registry domain often come with modular structures, allowing for a high degree of customization. Both registries and their corporate clients can choose which features to adopt and can often tailor interfaces to their brand and the specific needs of their clients. 

Data Analytics & Reporting: 

Modern SaaS platforms often include advanced data analytics capabilities. Share registries and their corporate clients can gain insights into shareholder behaviours, transaction trends and other key metrics, aiding in decision-making and strategic planning. 

Regulatory Reporting

With the increasing and evolving regulatory complexity and increasingly onerous reporting requirements of ASIC and the ATO, SaaS based solutions can provide systematic and more timely compliance without the expense or loss of control of using traditional full service registry providers.

Registries of the future are embracing change with a focus on the customer experience. 

The adoption of SaaS models and the emphasis on self-service capabilities by share registries reflect a broader trend of businesses looking to provide more value, convenience and autonomy to their users.  

These shifts not only enhance the shareholder and company experience but also provide significant operational advantages to the registries themselves. 

PrimaryMarkets and Registry Direct 

PrimaryMarkets provides investors with access to companies and services that are shaping the future of global industries. 

Our sister company, Registry Direct, is at the forefront of the technology curve driving innovation in the share registry sector. 

Shareholders and investors in companies whose shares are traded on the PrimaryMarkets Platform and who use Registry Direct as their share registry experience a uniquely seamless and efficient transaction experience with the possibility of T+0 settlement. 

PrimaryMarkets and Registry Direct exemplify how innovation can transform the way we invest, trade and raise capital by breaking down traditional barriers, providing liquidity solutions and promoting transparency.