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Exploring share classes: Types & investor benefits

Have you ever wondered why, when you buy shares of a company’s stock, you see different ticker symbols for the same company at times? This is due to different share classes. Companies divide their shares into categories like Class A, Class B, etc.

These classes essentially give different rights and privileges to different groups of investors. It’s kind of like having different tiers of membership or ownership. Some might get more voting power on company decisions, while others get prioritised for dividend payments.

That said, let’s discuss the intricacies of share classes, their types, and their benefits.

What is a share class?

Specific securities, like common stock or units in a mutual fund, are categorised according to their share class. An organisation may design share classes that provide varying rights and advantages to various types of shareholders while imposing ownership limitations. 

According to the company’s situation, the rights and privileges are related to things like voting and non-voting rights, dividend schedule and amount, entitlement to profits, capital rights, and other considerations.

When a company issues shares of common stock in more than one class – Class A, Class B, or Class C are used to distinguish between the several classes, each of which has its own set of advantages. Additionally, there are many share classes inside mutual funds, each with its own specific minimum investment, expense ratios, and sales charges.

Example of share classes

To understand the concept of share classes, we may look at Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Alphabet has two distinct share classes that are traded using separate ticker symbols: GOOGL and GOOG.

Alphabet’s stock, GOOGL, is classified as a class A share. GOOGL can be held by an ordinary shareholder with ordinary voting rights

GOOG represents the Class C shares of the corporation. Class C shares, similar to Class A shares, offer investors an ownership stake in the business but do not provide them voting rights.

Share class types

Share classes consist of two kinds of shares: ordinary shares and preferred shares. 

Ordinary shares are classified into classes like A, B, C, etc. that provide various advantages and limitations, such as dividends and voting, depending on the state of the business. 

On the other hand, preference shares are classified as redeemable or non-redeemable, cumulative or non-cumulative, and have a fixed-rate dividend. 

One crucial distinction in shareholder privileges is that, although they usually rank higher than ordinary shares in terms of dividend payouts, they often do not have voting rights.

Different share classes

Class A shares: To attract new investors, publicly traded companies might offer Class A shares during an initial public offering (IPO). Each share of Class A usually carries one vote. Since these shares tend to be the most cost-effective over a longer investment horizon, long-term investors often prefer them.  

A more favourable conversion rate to another class of shares may be available for the Class A shares. For mutual funds, investors must pay a front-end load of around 3-5% of the total amount invested.

Class B shares: This share class does not have as many voting rights in corporate affairs as Class A shares. In terms of advantages, they are comparable to second-best shares. Compared to other shares, the front-end load of these is low. Additionally, investors are not required to pay the back-end load as long as they keep their investments for an extended period.

Class C shares: In most mutual funds, class C shares frequently have lower expense ratios than class B shares. However, their expense ratios are higher than class A shares, with an annual fee of around 1%. 

Class D shares: Class D mutual funds, sometimes known as no-load funds, do not charge transaction fees when purchased or sold. 

Only the 12b-1 charge and the annual expense ratio are payable. As a result, Class D shares are much more cost-effective for short- and long-term investments than the other classes.

Class I shares: Class I shares, often called institutional shares, are reserved for major investment companies and pension funds. Aside from 401(k) plans, other investors may invest in Class I shares in mutual funds.

Share class benefits

  • Issuing non-voting shares to raise funds for start-ups guarantees that founding members will not dilute their control or allow other shareholders to participate in a profit-sharing scheme.
  • Assigning voting power to a specific class of shares ensures that the promoters and founders retain their influence over the management.
  • Issuing several classes of shares allows corporations to manage the dividends paid to investors.
  • Prioritising the distribution of dividends to some shareholders over other classes of shares.


By understanding the different types of share classes and their associated benefits, investors can make well-informed decisions that align with their investment goals and risk appetites. 

The various share classes provide investors with a wide range of alternatives to meet their specific requirements, whether voting rights, dividend entitlements, or fee structures.


Is Class A or B stock better? 

Whether Class A or B stock is better depends on what you’re looking for as an investor. Class A stocks generally have more voting rights than Class B stocks, which can be advantageous if you want to influence company decisions. Class B stocks might have fewer voting rights but can offer other benefits, such as lower prices or fewer restrictions.

Can Class B shares be converted to Class A? 

In some cases, Class B shares can convert to Class A shares, particularly if held for a long period of time. This conversion can provide long-term investors with the benefits associated with Class A shares, such as increased voting rights or higher priority in dividend payments. However, the specifics of conversion will depend on the company’s policies and the terms of the shares at the time of purchase. 

Why issue different classes of shares?

Companies issue different classes of shares primarily to diversify ownership and control. By creating classes with differential voting rights, companies can raise capital without significantly diluting the control of existing shareholders. Additionally, different classes of shares can cater to various investor preferences, offering options with different dividend rights or redemption terms.

What are Class A-1 shares?

Class A-1 shares are a specific category of stock that typically grants enhanced voting rights and is often reserved for company promoters or senior management. These shares may offer additional benefits such as higher dividend payouts and priority in capital returns in the event of the company’s liquidation.

Can I sell Class B shares?

Yes, you can sell Class B shares, which are a common stock classification that may come with fewer voting rights than Class A shares. They are typically traded on stock exchanges, allowing investors to sell their shares in the open market. However, certain Class B shares may have restrictions or conditions on their sale, so it’s important to review the specific terms associated with your shares or consult with a financial advisor for guidance.

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