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The days of a multitude of mail coming to you each time you buy and sell ASX listed shares may be numbered, spelling bad news for print and mail houses involved in the trade.

Coming to an end: printed ASX share trade comms
Coming to an end: printed ASX share trade comms

At present every time anyone buys, and sells, a stock at least one letter is mailed to them, and sometimes more. The ASX is itself ordering the print and mailing of more more than 100 tonnes of CHESS notifications each year, and in the Covid year to end June its mails went up by a third, as a stay-at-home country turned to share trading.

Now however it seems the days of the mail notification may be coming to an end, with the ASX looking to introduce digital comms, which are likely to come on stream by the end of the year, with paper comms potentially coming to an end by this time next year.

The ASX says it will continue to offer paper-based comms, but on an opt-in basis. Annual report and accounts were made opt-in 15 years ago, killing off one of the more lucrative sectors of print in one fell swoop, and damaging the industry in the process. Today only one per cent of investors ask for printed report and accounts.

The ASX makes a tidy $24m a year for charging the companies that it sends out the mailers about. Investors see this as an unnecessary cost.

Under the new system end investors will receive notifications from their brokers when they make a trade, telling them that the CHESS statements will be electronic, and asking if they want to opt-in to paper comms. It is unclear if there will be a charge for the paper comms, but the utilities which have a similar opt-in system for paper bills typically charge $2 to their customers for each paper statement. 

ASX company notifications, which are mainly sent from Computershare or Link Marketing Services, already have a non-paper option. Both of these operations use high speed continuous feed mono inkjet printers to generate the mail, in Computershare’s case the Ricoh systems. Link’s annual report says it used 742 tonnes of paper last year, although that was for all its activities.

Certainly of the several hundred tonnes of paper that are printed each year for share trading, a large number of the letters are sent straight to the bin, particularly by the numerous day traders who will have bought and sold long before the letters arrive.

As someone once famously said of the printing industry, "everything that can be digital will be digital."

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