I’ve got to be honest. I never liked Britney Spears. Even with the video clips muted. It was just not my cup of tea. But I do not wish her ill.

Even though she was the precursor to generations solely motivated by vanity, and Instagram and the Kardashians. Even though Britney-watch was a more important news item than war or famine or genocide. Even though she married Kevin Federline. Still can’t wish her Ill.

And to be fair, she made millions over the years. Depending on the tabloid source, various net worth estimates range from $59m to “once had $200m, now only $100m”. I honestly thought an entertainer with her back catalogue (that is rolled out at a Vegas show night after night)…I honestly thought she’d be worth more.

So I guess she’s made a few bad financial decisions. I guess Kevin Federline still costs a bit, can’t see him holding down a job. Rehab. Kids. Mansions.

Still, I reckon the worst decision she ever made was to lose all her assets into a Trust that she had no control of. Now she’s lost all control of her money. It’s still there, she just can’t do anything with it without someone else letting her. In my book that’s the same as losing it.

So there’s a bit of a debate at the moment about the difference between a HIN and a Pooled Trust (aka a ‘special purpose HIN’).

In a sense, it’s the difference between having your own bank account in your own name and having one that is a Pooled Trust (why isn’t this called a ‘special purpose bank account’?) — and whether there is any reason to pick one over the other.

Obviously, you can tell from my tone that we are sitting up here on our Marketech-brand high-horse, waving individual HIN’s around like confetti!

But, to be fair, there are pros and cons of both. Also, I’m not a lawyer, and this is mainly written for (my) entertainment purposes, so you should ask one before choosing a legal structure for your cash and shares.


First off, the HIN, a Holder Identification Number, was invented when the ASX got rid of chalkboards and went to computers. CHESS, the Clearing House Electronic Sub-register System, was born. Now, when you buy shares off some rando on the ASX, the CHESS matches the buyer and the seller and arranges settlement.

Each buyer is given the option when buying shares on the ASX.

  • To buy without nominating a broker to ‘hold’ that stock in an account at that brokerage on a SRN, (a Shareholder Registration Number) or,
  • To buy via a broker, on their PID (Participant Identification Number), using a HIN.

Then each listed company nominates a share registry to manage all the paperwork. Either way, it’s all in your name, and registered at the ASX-run CHESS.

You can ring the Share Registry and ask if it’s there. You can log in and see it. They send you mail, in your name, to your address. It’s also protected by some sort of legalese that they impose on brokers to make sure that it’s as safe as the ASIC and the RBA can make it.

So, theoretically, one other option is to join a buying group. A gang even. Of like-minded individuals that all throw their money into the same bank account. They all throw their shares into the same pool, in the same name even, such is their trust. So that account has one HIN.

Some guy looks after the accounting and counts the money coming in and the money going out. The Gang Leader writes up a set of rules for the accounts, saying who gets what and when.

Or they take an agreement off the legal shelf and put their name on it. Then everyone who wants to be in the gang agree with the rules of the gang.

Some call them ‘co-mingled accounts’ or an ‘omnibus structure’ or ‘special purpose HINs’, but at the end of the day they are Pooled Trust accounts. With a Trustee (not a Gang Leader!) and a Trust document.

OK, let’s pull back the reins on this high horse! It’s not thaaaat bad. There’s a whole lot of legislation around protection of Trusts and duties of Trustees and whatnot.

And it was much improved after the GFC, mainly because of the Opes Prime and Tricom and Lehman Bros and Storm Financial and MF Global debacles (et al).

In those cases, the pooled investments made up part of the balance sheet of the companies, so one bad trade from someone else could buckle the whole company. And it left people who’d bought some BHP shares lining up with ordinary creditors.

Since the GFC, without knowing the legal ins and outs, the only pooled trust accounts in Australia that I’m aware of that were let down by their trustee were at BBY Stockbroking, where fraud was alleged.

There were also some very bad investments (can’t even protect HIN holders from bad investments!).


Luckily it only took 5 years for the liquidators to scrape the barrel, and the pooled account holders still got 44c in the dollar.

So the advantages of a pooled trust (or special-purpose HIN) include:

  • It’s quicker to open an account
  • Its a little cheaper overall
  • Probably some other stuff, like fractional share ownership if you can’t afford a whole BHP share

And the advantages of a HIN-based platform with your own account:

  • You get your own log-in to the bank that is holding your money for you, and you manage your own money.
  • The share registry handles all your stock with CHESS, which is overseen by ASIC and the RBA.
  • You get to move your shares between brokers with no fee, not an Off-Market sale for each holding
  • If there is a share purchase plan, for say $30k per holder, you get to apply for the whole amount
  • You can nominate to get your dividends into any bank account that you want
  • If your broker goes broke, your HIN remains. Move it somewhere else with a signature, not a Liquidator.
  • No question marks about your tax implications
  • Again, probably some other stuff, like knowing exactly what you have all of the time and being the one that makes all the decisions and does the counting and whatnot…and not having to trust a Trustee, like Britney did.


So, time to get back on the high horse.

At Marketech you get your own HIN, in fact, you can link a bunch of HIN accounts to the one platform. You get your own Macquarie Bank cash management account, and your own log-in to manage it.

We proudly stand by the fact that you will not be able to immediately open a trading account and buy straight away.

We put time into ensuring you are who you say you are and aren’t some international drug-dealing or terrorist scumbag. Then OpenMarkets check you out too. And Macquarie Bank.

Does it take a bit longer to open an account setting up a HIN and a separate bank account in your name? YOU F*&%ING BET IT DOES! This is YOUR money and these are legal financial structures designed to protect you, and if it takes a couple of days to protect it properly, so be it.

Britney Spears may not have been my cup of tea musically. And she may have made some bad choices along the way that meant her assets had to be protected from her. But even she wouldn’t have, couldn’t have thought that she couldn’t even trust her own Dad to run her own trust.

You should be able to trust a Trustee. Name yours.

At Marketech our platform is about technology, providing you the tools and technology to trade.  We encourage our high-function trading platform to get you live pricing, live charts, live market depth to ensure you have the tools and trading capability at your fingertips, and on your mobile phone or PC.  You trade your own stock on your individual HIN. Its your cash in your own Macquarie account where you keep the competitive interest you earn.

Our subscribers get access to brokerage starting at $5, and then 0.02 per cent for trades over $25k.  If you want to trade the market you need immediate access wherever you are and the seamless Marketech mobile app means you are live anywhere anytime.

Go to www.marketech.com.au to set up a free trial – you will be astounded by the simplicity and tools that this technology gives you.  No spin, just low cost trading and the tools that give you advantage over hype.

This article was developed in collaboration with Marketech Stockbroking Pty Ltd (AFSL 486148), a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing. 

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.