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What is CHESS?

CHESS stands for Clearing House Electronic Subregister System. It’s a computer system operated by the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) that facilitates the buying and selling of shares listed on the exchange.

There are three ways to hold shares in Australia. 

One is through a broker which allocates your shares to a Holder Identification Number, or ‘HIN’, commonly referred to as “CHESS-sponsored”.

Another is through the registry of the company you own shares in, where you will hold shares on a Shareholder Reference Number or ‘SRN’.

Or, you can do so via a custodian, which is a financial institution licensed to hold assets on your behalf for safekeeping. It’s like having a guardian for your shares that is holding regulatory capital in the event of any potential financial stress, which is there to protect your investments.