Transferring Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) Shares From ComputerShare to Your Brokerage Account

Let's say you want to transfer your employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) shares from ComputerShare to your brokerage account.  Here's what I've found:

  1. Call ComputerShare at 781-575-2727 during U.S. Eastern time business hours.  (Their toll-free number was dead the last time I tried.)
  2. Prepare for a long 3-5 minute authentication process where an automated voice tells you all about your account, v-e-r-y slowly.  Say "customer service" as much as possible.  Have your employee number, PIN #, and account number from the ComputerShare web site / statements handy.  When you do finally get to a human, they're actually pretty pleasant to deal with, as long as you're patient and polite.
  3. Tell ComputerShare's rep to transfer your ESPP shares to common stock.  (Common stock shares are Direct Registration System (DRS) eligible. If you try to transfer ESPP shares directly to your brokerage, they will be denied.)  This step is required.  You can only do this over the phone, not online.
  4. Wait 1-3 business days.  Observe at ComputerShare's web site that your shares have transferred to common stock.
  5. Login to your brokerage and select broker to broker transfer, then select "ComputerShare - DRS" when doing the transfer.  Select the option to transfer whole shares only.  (Partial shares won't transfer.)  Attach a PDF copy of your newest ComputerShare statement.  Wait 5-7 days for the transfer to complete.

Q. Is this free?
A. Usually.  Neither ComputerShare nor my brokerage, as of this writing, charge a fee for a broker to broker transfer.  Check with your brokerage to make sure.

Q. Why would you want to do this?
A. In my case, I did it for several reasons, including: 
  • I wanted to get the shares out of ComputerShare using the least expensive method possible.  There are larger fees for selling shares via ComputerShare's system.
  • I wanted to use my brokerage's far superior (though still not perfect) web interface to manage the bulk of my shares.  Navigating ComputerShare's site requires at least 3 button presses to get to the actual login page, where you select from 3 different types of usernames for logging in, followed by a multitude of confusing buttons to get details about what you own.  Their whole site seems like it hasn't been updated since the mid-1990s.  My brokerage, by contrast, has one login page, one username type, and presents almost everything you need to know right away.  Their customer service is 24/7 too.

Q. What do I do with my shares after they've transferred over successfully?
A. It's up to you.  You can leave them where they are (incurring the risk that your company's stock will go down, potentially wiping out any ESPP savings), you can manually sell them for cash (incurring a tax and a trading fee cost), or you can automatically sell them for cash using a limit order at a price a little under the highest you've seen in the last 1-3 months (noting that you will still incur a tax and trading fee cost).  If you sell them for cash and you don't need the money right away, you may want to reinvest them according to your asset allocation.

Q. Why would I want to purchase ESPP shares in the first place?
A. Check out The Finance Buff's excellent article on ESPP shares - he goes in depth about why you might want to do this.

Q. What is ComputerShare?
A. ComputerShare is a stock transfer agent.  For more info, see Brokerage Review's article (which also discusses their fees).

The Differences Between Sex and Love

As part of our courtship, my fiancĂ©e and I are reading a book called Three to Get Married by the theologian Fulton J. Sheen.  It's absolutely fascinating!  The best way we've found to digest it is in one-paragraph-a-day chunks, because like G.K. Chesterton, every sentence of Sheen's writing is jam-packed with thought, best savored slowly to aid comprehension and understanding.

Three to Get Married

We read each paragraph aloud to each other, then talk about our favorite parts.  Anything we're having trouble understanding is discussed and worked out aloud.  (As an aside, we also use a variant of this technique when arguing, writing down the other's points and reading them back to each other, to help ensure we've fully listened to and understood the other person.)

A three-paragraph excerpt from the first chapter, "The Differences Between Sex and Love":

 Sex is one of the means God has instituted for the enrichment of personality.  It is a basic principle of philosophy that there is nothing in the mind that was not previously in the senses.  All of our knowledge comes from the body.  We have a body, St. Thomas tells us, because of the weakness of our intellect.  Just as the enrichment of the mind comes from the body and its senses, so the enrichment of love comes through the body and its sex.  As one can see a universe mirrored in a tear on a cheek, so in sex can be seen mirrored that wider world of love.  Loving monogamous marriage includes sex; but sex, in the contemporary use of the term, does not imply either marriage or monogamy.

 Every woman instinctively recognizes the difference between the two, but man comes to understand it more slowly through reason and prayer.  Man is driven by pleasure; woman by the meaning of pleasure.  She sees pleasure more as a means to an end, namely, the prolongation of love both in herself and in her child.  Like Mary at the Annunciation, she accepts the love that is presented to her by marriage, it comes indirectly from God through a man.  But in both instances, there is an acceptance, a surrender, a Fiat: "Let it be unto me according to they word" (Luke 1:28).  The pagan woman who has not consciously thought of God is actually half woman and half dream; the woman who sees love as a reflection of the Trinity is half woman and half Spirit, and she waits upon the creative work of God within her body.  Patience thus becomes bound up with her acceptance.  Woman accepts the exigencies of love, as the farmer accepts the exigencies of nature, and waits, after the sowing of the seed, the harvest of autumn.

 But when sex is divorced from love there is a feeling that one has been stopped at the vestibule of the castle of pleasure; that the heart has been denied the city after crossing the bridge.  Sadness and melancholy result from such a frustration of destiny, for it is the nature of man to be sad when he is pulled outside himself, or exteriorized, without getting any nearer his goal.  There is a closer correlation between mental instability and the animal view of sex than many suspect.  Happiness consists in interiority of the spirit, namely, the development of personality in relationship to a heavenly destiny.  He who has no purpose in life is unhappy; he who exteriorizes his life and is dominated, or subjugated, by what is outside himself, or spends his energy on the external without understanding its mystery, is unhappy to the point of melancholy.  There is the feeling of being hungry after having eaten or of being disgusted with food, because it has nourished not the body, in the case of an individual, or another body, in the case of marriage.  In the woman, this sadness is due to the humiliation of realizing that, where marriage is only sex, her role could be fulfilled by any other woman; there is nothing personal, incommunicable, and therefore nothing dignified.  Summoned by her God-implanted nature to be ushered into the mysteries of life, which have their source in God, she is condemned to remain on the threshold as a tool or an instrument of pleasure alone and not as a companion of love.  Two glasses that are empty cannot fill up one another.  There must be a fountain of water outside the glasses, in order that they may have communion with one another.  It takes three to make love.