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Bill Bennett


An ethical amount of tech shares for a journalist

I’ve deliberately not owned shares in the companies I write about.

That may change. By owning company stock I can take part in shareholder briefings, which is useful to my journalism.

The trick is to own the minimal practical parcel of then make them public when I write about the companies concerned. That way I’m not open to accusations of unethical behaviour.

No law in New Zealand stops me from owning shares. I haven’t seen any local code of journalist ethics or anything from NZX about owning shares.

But I have my own ethical standards. Independence is important. I certainly don’t want readers to suspect I have a vested interest one way or another about the companies I write about.

Nor do I want to write a story that would change a company’s share price if I stood to gain by its publication.

There have been occasions when I could have profited from trading. When Telecom NZ shares briefly dropped below $1.40 in 2010 it was clear the company was undervalued. By the following August the price had doubled. Anyone following Telecom NZ’s fortunes could have seen that coming.

I’m thinking of buying small parcels of technology company shares so I can get access to full shareholder information.

There’s a cost associated with buying shares and it’s often impossible to buy one or two at a time, so I need to buy smallest practical parcels. Can anyone tell me what the smallest practical parcel is and how to buy such a package without incurring large overheads?



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