What is “Safekeeping” and what is a “Safekeeping Receipt”?
Safekeeping is where an asset owner elects to place that asset in the care of an Agent, usually a Bank or a Financial Institution and receives an acknowledgement from the Bank as to their "Safekeeping" of that asset. The asset owner may elect to have such an acknowledgement sent to a third party. A fee may be required for these services.
The various assets that can be held in such arrangements range from share, stock or bond holdings to Real Estate Titles, and Precious Metals.
Where an acknowledgement is required it is typically referred to as a Safekeeping Receipt.
Individuals may use self-directed methods of safekeeping or the services of a bank or brokerage firm. Financial institutions are custodians and are therefore legally responsible for the items in safekeeping.
This storage and protection of a customer's financial assets, valuables, or documents, is provided as a service by the institution serving as Agent and, where control is delegated by the customer, also as custodian. It may be an individual, corporate, or institutional investor that relies on a bank or another financial institution to hold their stock certificates, bonds, real estate titles or precious metals.
Depending on the services provided by the institution, it may keep track of trades, and provide periodic statements of changes in position. In Australia many banks provide this custodial service as the Nominee holder of shares where a client has purchased stock holding, and does not want their shareholding mentioned in the public company’s share register. The fee for such a service is usually around 0.35%pa, relative to the size of the asset holding and frequency of change in status.
Investors who provide for their own safekeeping usually use a safe deposit box, which is provided by the financial institutions for an annual fee.
The issuer of a Safekeeping Receipt does not have any financial responsibility for the asset apart from the duty of care in the act of safekeeping. If the owner of the asset, directs that another financial institution be advised of the safekeeping role, and uses such advise to raise a loan against the held asset, it is the responsibility of the asset owner, now borrower, to satisfy all aspects of the debt when required by the lending financial institution.
In the event of default in loan repayment, the holder of the Safekeeping Receipt will request the issuer of the Safekeeping Receipt to forward the held assets to their legal representatives, for them to liquidate the assets. If there is a shortfall after liquidation, the lender will pursue the former asset owner, now borrower for any balance of debt remaining. The institution issuing the Safekeeping Receipt has fulfilled all its obligations by releasing the held documents or goods to the Safekeeping Receipt Holder.
Some of these general practices may vary in specific instances as required by the parties to the transaction. Financial Institutions usually use this form of inter-relationship when they are not providing full banking services in the locality where the assets reside.