Concern over Crest dealing unfounded

Richard Clayton reports

Panic felt by solicitors at the July introduction of Crest, the electronic share dealing system of the London Stock Exchange, appears to have abated for the moment.

The system made a slow start, with only a few firms being forced to change their existing practices.

Andrew Curtis, head of

investment management at Bournemouth-based practice Lester Aldridge, which has around £60 million funds in management, said: "Crest has not been an issue here yet, and as far as we are concerned there have been no alarms or squeaks.

"My own attitude to it is that as long as we get things in place by spring 1997, by which time there will be a likelihood of a two-tier market, that will be quite adequate."

Anthony Greyer, senior executive officer at LawShare, the broker dealing solely with solicitors' firms, said: "There is so little happening in Crest that it will be some time before it impacts on the way lawyers run their businesses.

"Over the last two years, we have been educating solicitors about the changes they will face under Crest, but it will affect relatively few of them; only the most forward-looking firms, which tend to be those with the very largest trust


David Tomlinson, LawShare director of operations, insisted that solicitors had nothing to fear from the system.

He said firms worried by the different documentation required for rights issue may have misunderstood the system.

"Crest offers a more efficient way of handling rights issues. Any rights issue can be settled by Crest and the documentation to a degree will still be on paper. The registrar will still have to send out notification in the usual way."

He added: "The difference is that if you want, you can take up a rights issue through your Crest account, and when the call comes you can also pay that through Crest."

LawShare has recently launched a system which allows shareholders to dial their Crest holdings via LawShare.

David Tomlinson said: "It's rather like home banking. Shareholders firstly get a secure means of allowing us, as their sponsors, to move things in and out of their nominee accounts, and secondly it is a means of interrogating us as to the state of their accounts."