What should Selftrade investors do now?

Investors with share-dealing service Selftrade have been asked to decide between switching to Equiniti or taking their custom elsewhere. Cris Sholto Heaton weighs up the options.

Around 130,000 investors who use online stockbroker Selftrade have recently received letters asking them to choose between transferring their accounts to another broker called Equiniti, or taking their money and assets elsewhere.

This is happening because Selftrade's parent company, Paris-listed Boursorama, has decided to exit the UK stockbroking business and Equiniti has bought Selftrade's 'book' of customers from it.

If you have an account with Selftrade, you may be wondering what you should do. The first thing to keep in mind is that the deadline for Selftrade to receive your decision is 14 November 2014.

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You can give instructions either online via your Selftrade account, or by returning the forms you will have been sentby post. If Selftrade has not received your response by14 November, your assets will be transferred to Equiniti but your account will remain locked until you separately accept Equiniti's terms and conditions.

Transfers to Equiniti are scheduled to happen over the weekend of 22 November 2014. In fact, Equiniti is already the custody and settlement services provider to Selftrade in other words, it already handles the behind-the-scenes administration of theassets you hold so in theory the transfer process should besmooth.

Equiniti will not be using Selftrade's front-end tradingplatform, so your online account will look different after thetransfer, but the same services should be available.

Should you swap? Selftrade was not the cheapest serviceavailable for most investors, so this may be a good time tocompare other providers and see if you can get a better deal.

However, Selftrade's current charges will remain the same for12 months and you'll be entitled to a free transfer out to anotherprovider at any time during that period, so you don't need torush into this.

As a result, investors who are uncertain as towhat to do may find it easiest to move to Equiniti, then make uptheir minds once they've had a chance to test the new service.

If you already know you don't want to move to Equiniti, youwill have to close your Selftrade account and either sell yourholdings, transfer them to a different broker, or turn theminto certificated form.

Transferring to another broker will befree, but is likely to take several weeks to complete. So thinkcarefully about whether you will need access to your portfolioin that time before choosing this option.

Cris Sholto Heaton

Cris Sholto Heaton is an investment analyst and writer who has been contributing to MoneyWeek since 2006 and was managing editor of the magazine between 2016 and 2018. He is especially interested in international investing, believing many investors still focus too much on their home markets and that it pays to take advantage of all the opportunities the world offers. He often writes about Asian equities, international income and global asset allocation.

Cris began his career in financial services consultancy at PwC and Lane Clark & Peacock, before an abrupt change of direction into oil, gas and energy at Petroleum Economist and Platts and subsequently into investment research and writing. In addition to his articles for MoneyWeek, he also works with a number of asset managers, consultancies and financial information providers.

He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and the Investment Management Certificate, as well as degrees in finance and mathematics. He has also studied acting, film-making and photography, and strongly suspects that an awareness of what makes a compelling story is just as important for understanding markets as any amount of qualifications.