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Distinguishing Ordinary vs Common Shares: Unveiling the Key Differences

Title: Understanding the Difference: Ordinary Shares vs Common SharesWhen it comes to investing in the stock market, understanding the different types of shares available is crucial. One common point of confusion is the difference between ordinary shares and common shares.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the key distinctions between these two types of shares. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of the unique features and benefits associated with each, empowering you to make informed investment decisions.

Voting Rights

– Common shares, also known as ordinary shares, grant shareholders the right to vote on important company matters. – Ordinary shareholders generally have one voting right per share owned.

– These votes, combined with those from all other ordinary shareholders, contribute to the overall decision-making process of the company. – In contrast, some companies may issue non-voting ordinary shares, which do not carry voting rights but still offer ownership benefits.


Dividends are financial rewards distributed by companies to their shareholders as a share of the profits. – Common shareholders typically receive dividends in proportion to the number of shares they own.

– However, the decision to distribute dividends rests with the company’s management and board of directors. – While common shareholders are eligible to receive dividends, there is no guarantee that a company will distribute them.

It depends on the company’s financial position and strategic goals.

Residual Rights

– When a company is liquidated or declares bankruptcy, common shareholders are entitled to the residual assets of the company. – This means that after all debts, loans, and preferences have been paid off, the remaining assets are distributed among the common shareholders.

– However, common shareholders rank lower in priority compared to other classes of shareholders, such as preference or executive shareholders, when it comes to asset distribution. – Residual rights are significant for ordinary shareholders as they reflect their ownership stake in the company.

Non-voting Shares

– Non-voting shares are a distinct class of shares that do not carry voting rights. – Companies may issue non-voting shares to the public while still retaining control over the voting process.

– Non-voting shares are commonly used when founders and key stakeholders want to maintain control over decision-making within the company. – By offering non-voting shares, companies can raise capital without diluting their decision-making power.

Executive Shares

– Executive shares, also known as management shares, are typically reserved for senior executives and key employees. – These shares may have special voting rights, higher dividends, or other advantageous terms compared to ordinary shares.

– Executive shares serve as a means to incentivize and reward top-performing individuals within the company. – They provide a way to retain talent and align the interests of executives with the company’s long-term success.

Preference Shares

– Preference shares, sometimes referred to as preferred shares, offer certain preferential rights to shareholders. – These rights may include a fixed dividend rate, priority in receiving dividends, or priority in asset distribution during liquidation.

– Preference shareholders usually forego voting rights in exchange for these preferential benefits. – Preference shares are often favored by income-seeking investors who prioritize a steady income over voting power.

Deferred Shares

– Deferred shares, also known as founders’ shares, are typically issued to the founders or early investors of a company. – These shares may carry a lower initial value compared to ordinary shares, but they offer the potential for higher returns in the future.

– Deferred shares may have certain preferential rights, such as pre-emptive rights or priority in receiving dividends. – This class of shares often serves as a reward for the individuals who took the initial risk and played a crucial role in the company’s early stages.

Common Shares (or Ordinary Shares)

– Common shares, as mentioned earlier, are the most basic form of shares available to investors. – They offer voting rights, a share in profits through dividends, and residual rights in the event of liquidation.

– Common shares provide investors with an opportunity to participate in the growth and success of the company. – They are often favored by individuals seeking capital appreciation and the ability to influence company decisions through voting.


Understanding the nuances between ordinary shares and common shares is vital for any investor. By grasping the concept of voting rights, dividends, and residual rights, individuals can make informed decisions that align with their investment goals.

Additionally, exploring different types of share classes, such as non-voting, executive, preference, and deferred shares, expands our understanding of the breadth and depth of investment opportunities available in the market. Armed with this knowledge, investors can navigate the stock market with confidence, strategically selecting shares that suit their preferences and objectives.

Title: Ordinary Shares vs Common Shares FAQ: Demystifying Share Class TerminologyAs investors navigate the stock market, one common source of confusion is the distinction between ordinary shares and common shares. To further clarify these terms and address other frequently asked questions, this comprehensive FAQ will provide detailed explanations and insights.

By the end, readers will have a nuanced understanding of ordinary and common shares, empowering them to make informed investment decisions.

Difference between Ordinary and Common Shares

– Ordinary shares and common shares are terms used interchangeably in many jurisdictions. – Both types of shares represent ownership in a company and confer certain rights and benefits to shareholders.

– The main difference lies in terminology, with “common shares” being commonly used in the United States, and “ordinary shares” being more prevalent in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. What are Common Shares?

– Common shares are the most basic form of ownership in a company. – Holders of common shares are often referred to as shareholders or equity shareholders.

– Common shares provide voting rights, giving shareholders a voice in company decisions. – When it comes to the distribution of profits, common shareholders may receive dividends, but the amount is subject to the company’s financial performance and dividend policy.

What are Ordinary Shares? – Ordinary shares, as mentioned earlier, are synonymous with common shares in most contexts.

– Some jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, have specific legal definitions and regulations surrounding ordinary shares. – In these jurisdictions, ordinary shares may carry additional rights, such as the right to receive dividends, participate in share offerings, and vote at general meetings.

– However, it is important to note that ordinary shares and common shares generally refer to the same class of shares and confer similar rights.

Meaning of Ordinary Shares and Common Shares

– Both ordinary shares and common shares signify ownership in a company. – Shareholders who hold these types of shares have a stake in the company’s assets and profit distribution.

– The terms “ordinary” and “common” convey that these shares represent the standard default class available to investors.

Voting and Dividend Rights of Ordinary and Common Shares

– Both ordinary and common shares provide voting rights to shareholders. – Shareholders are typically entitled to one vote per share, allowing them to participate in important company decisions, such as electing directors or approving mergers.

– Regarding dividends, both ordinary and common shareholders have the potential to receive them. – However, as dividends are discretionary, companies may decide not to distribute them during financial difficulties or reinvest the profits back into the business for growth.

Good Luck with Research

– Understanding the nuances between ordinary shares and common shares is a crucial step in becoming an informed investor. – Conducting thorough research is essential to fully comprehend the regulations and implications specific to the jurisdiction and company you are interested in.

– Through diligent research, you can gain insights into the specific voting and dividend rights associated with ordinary shares or common shares in different companies. In summary, ordinary shares and common shares refer to the same class of shares that represent ownership in a company.

These shares grant shareholders the right to vote on important matters and potentially receive dividends. While the terms may vary in usage across jurisdictions, the underlying rights and benefits remain largely consistent.

As you delve into the world of investing, remember to conduct thorough research to understand the specific regulations and implications applicable to the shares you are interested in. With this knowledge in hand, you can confidently navigate the complexities of share classes and make investment decisions aligned with your goals.

In conclusion, understanding the difference between ordinary shares and common shares is crucial for investors seeking to navigate the stock market. While the terms may vary in usage, both types of shares represent ownership in a company and confer rights such as voting and potential dividends.

Through diligent research, investors can grasp the nuances specific to their jurisdiction and make informed investment decisions. Remember, whether you’re an ordinary or common shareholder, the key lies in understanding your rights and leveraging that knowledge to confidently pursue your investment goals.

Happy investing!

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