How to sell shares without a broker

Over the last 20 years there have been plenty of share floats that have brought everyday Australians into the world of share ownership. For example:

  • Privatisation of Government assets like Commonwealth Bank, CSL and Telstra.
  • Also large companies like AMP have demutualised and listed on the stock exchange and in the process issued shares to policy holders.

One day, perhaps upon retirement, you may decide that you want to sell these shares to fund your lifestyle. But, how do you sell your shares when you don’t have a broker?

(Technically you can’t directly trade on the Australian Stock Exchange – you have to use an authorised broker. By ‘without a broker’ I mean without the old-school method of talking to a human.)

Online share trading facilities

In our modern world the first idea that may spring to your mind is to establish an account with one of the many online share trading providers.  Certainly that will work. But if you only want to conduct one or two trades it is a lot of effort.

Plus in setting up an account most online providers also establish a new, linked cash account for settling the trades. Again for one or two trades it is an extra account that’ll probably be more hassle than benefit.

Further, if you have some shares in your name, some in your partner’s name and even some in joint names you also may need a separate trading account for each ownership type.

One off trading facilities

If you just want to sell shares and not buy then a one off guest or visitor trade is what you need.

With a visitor trade you can sell the shares and receive a cheque posted to you, which you deposit into an existing account of your choice. No need to establish a new bank account.

Both of the big Australian online share brokers E*Trade and Commsec offer one off trading services. E*Trade refer to it as a Visitor Trade and CommSec refer to it as a One Off trade. You can download the forms from their website.


Yes it still involves a bit of paperwork and you still have to prove your identity by submitting certified copies of your ID. But it does avoid the extra paperwork of closing an account at the end.

TIP: If you already are a customer of CBA and have therefore proven your identity you can avoid that part of the process if you use the Commsec one off trade facility.


One off trades usually cost more than the standard per-trade fee from each broker. But it is still as low as $50 with E*Trade or $66 with Commsec (depending on size). See their websites for specific details to decide which is cheapest for your trade.

Market price only

One disadvantage of a one off visitor trade compared to establishing the online account is that your shares will be sold at the market price at the time your form is processed. You don’t get to dictate the sale price.

If you want to be able to time the sale of your shares and nominate the sale price you will need to establish the online account or go through the traditional human brokers (remember those?).

Issuer sponsored shares only

You can only use the one off trade facilities if your shares are what is known as “issuer sponsored” rather than “broker sponsored”.

The Commsec form describes how to tell the difference:

  1. Find your share holding statement.
  2. Look for the Shareholder Reference Number (SRN), which it is a 10 digit number.
  3. If your SRN starts with  the letter “I” then your shares are issuer sponsored.
  4. If your SRN starts with the letter “X” then your shares are broker sponsored.

Broker sponsored shares

If your shares are already broker sponsored then just contact that broking company and ask them about the process and cost to sell the shares. You’ll be able to find the broker’s name and contact details on your share holding statement.

If you don’t fancy them or their fees then you can establish an account with one of the online share brokers and transfer your shares to them as your new nominated broker. Then you sell your shares using the normal online trading facility.

7 thoughts on “How to sell shares without a broker

  1. Hi, I wonder if you can help with this question. I have shares in a company (SLP) which is no longer listed on the ASX. I am being offered to trade my shares on the LSE via a broker for the next 3 months (it is a voluntary offer, not mandatory). However, I would prefer to keep my shares for a long time as they are not doing great right now.
    My question is:
    Since my shares are no longer listed on the ASX and not yet listed on the LSE, can I keep these shares until such times that I wish to sell them (several years) and how would I go about selling them when I do?. I am told that it wouldn’t be technically possible to list them on the LSE and that I would need to do an ‘off-market’ trading. This is the key word and am not sure I fully understand it. It would mean finding a buyer outside of the LSE. Can you clarify the implications of this?
    Thanks for any help. Sylvie

    1. Hi Sylvie, and thanks for visiting The Money Guide.

      I recommend that you invest some money in paying professional fees to an expert to give you reliable answers to your questions. The type of expert you should speak to is a stockbroker. Do it in person so you are establishing a relationship.

      They may initially be hesitant to answer your question, since they usually are paid as a percentage of the transaction. Recognise and acknowledge this up front and offer to pay a fee for their expertise.

      All the best, Matt

  2. Hi Matt,
    Thanks a lot for the prompt support!. I’ve actually now managed to contact the company secretary of SLP who confirmed that all shares are now on the LSE and can be traded at any time in the future.

    The info I got from the ASX contact was incorrect, which is good news.

    Once I decide to trade my shares, all I’ll need is to find a good Australian stock broker which can also trade on the LSE, which I hope will not be too hard to find. I was with Bell Direct, but they do not trade with the LSE. I’m not in any hurry but do you know any one you can recommend?
    Thanks, Sylvie

    1. Sylvie, the two online brokers I mention in the article also trade shares on international markets. For international trades you need to establish an account. If you are prepared to invest your own time establishing an account then you can transact that way. Otherwise you’ll need to use the old fashion route of using a real human in a stockbroking firm.

  3. Dear Matt
    I would like to sell some shares that I was trustee for when my son won them some years ago. He is now 29 and he needs to sell themj. The shares were in my maiden name at the time of my son’s acquisition. Please advise as to the best way to cash in the shares. Can I sell them through NAB Trading?
    Kind Regards

    1. Hi Julie and thanks for visiting The Money Guide.

      It seems like you have a specific personal issue there. So, like I recommended to Sylvie (above) I recommend you seek personal advice from a professional expert.

      In your case I recommend the quickest and most effective way is to actually call a stock broker, such as the one you mention. They’ll be able to advise you on the way to sell the shares for your son. Show your gratitude for sharing their expertise and time by then using that broker to complete the trade. Sure, the brokerage fee will be higher than online broking but that is because you got the human touch and advice.

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