Following the issuance of the Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s (FSCA) discussion paper in 2022, which highlighted the pressing issue of unclaimed financial assets in South Africa, including unclaimed dividends among South African investors, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is seeking to launch a nationwide initiative to match claimants with their unclaimed dividends.
According to FSCA’s discussion paper, there is an estimated R88.56 billion worth of unclaimed assets across the financial sector, with over R4.5 billion worth of unclaimed benefits in the form of unclaimed dividends.
The JSE’s unclaimed dividends initiative aims to address the critical issue of unclaimed dividends in the financial markets by identifying and reuniting individuals with unclaimed or 'lost' entitlements stemming from limited or outdated information about the owners or holders of shares.
“As the JSE, we firmly believe that returning R4.5 billion worth of unclaimed dividends to South African owners of shares will make a profound economic impact on their lives. The JSE is supportive of the goal of ensuring that unclaimed dividends reach shareholders and that these shareholders continue to benefit from their ownership of their securities into the future. We are excited that companies with large shareholder bases are joining forces with this JSE initiative.,” says Vuyo Lee, Director: Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the JSE.
The initiative will begin with a shareholder education drive that will inform the public on how dividends work, the ways unclaimed dividends could arise, how individuals can verify whether unclaimed shares and dividends are due to them from listed companies that are participating in the initiative, and how to update their shareholder information. JSE Investor Services (JIS), a subsidiary of the JSE, will be implementation agent for the processing and paying of dividends to legitimate claimants, and updating the share registers of companies.
“Through its tracing services, JIS has over the last 5 years identified and paid R408 million due to thousands of investors, including a significant portion of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) shareholders, with some claims dating back more than 15 years. JIS possesses the expertise, resources and track record to effectively execute the second phase of this JSE initiative,” Lee further explained.
JIS has scalable contact centre capabilities ring-fenced for this initiative, and will use rigorous data privacy and access protocols, robust digital capabilities for shareholder validity verification - including a direct link to Home Affairs for FICA purposes - and introduce online claims processing through ShareHub, its digital shareholder communication portal.
“The roll out of the unclaimed dividends initiative requires the involvement and support of the broader business community and financial markets to ensure its success. To date, the JSE has engaged with several of the larger issuers who have indicated their commitment to participate in the initiative and will contribute to its nationwide implementation. They collectively recognise the importance of this initiative in growing shared prosperity for all,” concludes Lee.
The JSE will communicate to the public, once the initiative commences, including what processes they can follow to verify whether any outstanding dividends are due to them.
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The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has a well-established history of operating as a marketplace for trading financial products. It is a pioneering, globally connected exchange group that enables inclusive economic growth through trusted, world-class, socially responsible products, and services for the investor of the future. It offers secure and efficient primary and secondary capital markets across a diverse range of securities, spanning equities, derivatives, and debt markets. It prides itself on being the market of choice for local and international investors looking to gain exposure to leading capital markets on the African continent.
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