What does a shareholder do? A shareholder, also known as a stockholder, participates in the management of a company. A shareholder is an individual, institution, or company that owns a share of a corporation’s stock. Since shareholders are also the owners, they get the benefits of the company profits when the stock value increases. If a business performs poorly, shareholders lose money when the stock falls in price.

Unlike owners of partnerships or sole proprietorships, shareholders cannot be held liable for obligations or business debts that the company incurs. This means that if a business fails, creditors cannot demand that shareholders pay the debts personally. Unlike the leadership of other legal entities, companies that have shareholders use officers and a board of directors to manage company affairs. Moreover, shareholders usually have little say in how the business is managed daily.

Many businesses choose to issue two stock classes: preferred and common. Common is cheaper and more readily available than preferred stock. Most shareholders own common stock, can vote on company affairs, and receive compensation in the form of dividends. However, the board of directors may only deem dividends necessary when it is appropriate to issue dividends. In terms of voting, common shareholders do not get the same rights as preferred stockholders, and preferred shareholders receive larger dividend shares.

Preferred Dividends

Moreover, preferred dividends come with a guarantee and must be paid annually before common stockholders receive payment. Preferred stock is an excellent option if you wish to generate a guaranteed income yearly. Common stockholders still retain partial ownership in the company, and they share the gains if the business produces profit.

Also, liquidation makes sense in many cases. Shareholders absorb additional risk upon receiving nothing if a company goes bankrupt. However, they also share in greater rewards via exposure to price appreciation as the company yields immense profits. By contrast, preferred stocks usually experience less fluctuations in pricing.

Securities Classes

When it comes to the hierarchical nature of securities, you must keep in mind three types of securities: preferred stock, common stock, and bonds. The goal of each security is understood best by examining what happens if a company undergoes bankruptcy. If you are a common stockholder, you would be first in line when receiving company assets, but you would receive leftover assets after creditors, bondholders, and preferred stockholders. Creditors receive any assets first, with bondholders coming in second, followed by preferred stockholders.

Common shareholders are last in line. Such a hierarchy is known as absolute priority, which is a part of bankruptcy law designed to portion payments based on participant share. Also, you must be aware of additional rights that are separate for each security class.

  1. Example: A company charter notes that only common stockholders have privileges, and preferred holders must get dividends before common shareholders. The rights of the bondholders are deemed different due to bond agreements representing an agreement between a bondholder and the issuer.

The privileges and payments that bondholders receive are managed via indenture, which comprise various aspects of a contract. People who own company shares are viewed as the genuine owners of a company. Therefore, common shareholders retain certain rights and privileges governed by laws of the state where the company retains headquarters.

Common Stockholder Rights

The most vital rights that common stockholders have includes the right in sharing in a company’s profits. They also get access to the following:

  1. Income and assets
  2. Profitability
  3. Degrees of control and influence regarding management selection
  4. General voting rights during meetings
  5. Preemptive rights to new shares

As part owners, common shareholders can participate in the profitability of a company, so long as they own shares. Profit division depends on the number of shares owned by the holder, and the gains may be substantial as time passes. In addition to profit sharing, they also have a right to distributions via dividend payments. If the board of directors of a company declares a dividend in a certain time frame, common shareholders can get it. However, dividends do not have guarantees.

Large companies may also retain more diversity in the amount of common stock available. Regardless, individuals in management positions do not have enough shares to influence who can sit on a board. For smaller businesses, the chairperson or president of a board usually owns the largest common stock.

What does a shareholder do? To learn more about what a shareholder does, or for help with navigating shares and dividends, you can post your job on UpCounsel’s website. UpCounsel’s attorneys will provide more information on shareholder rights and how you can successfully navigate the stock world. In addition, they will read over any contracts before another party compels you to sign them.