It is a special type of stock that often comes with greater voting privileges

Author: Oday Najad
Oday Najad
Oday Najad
Reviewed By: James Fazeli-Sinaki
James Fazeli-Sinaki
James Fazeli-Sinaki
Last Updated:March 21, 2024

What Are A-Shares?

Class A shares are a unique type of stock that often comes with greater voting privileges compared to ordinary shares. They are typically classified as common stock, but it's important to note that not all Class A shares are the same.

Class A shares are typically reserved for individuals such as C-level executives, founders, senior management, and members of the board of directors. However, the exact eligibility criteria can vary from one company to another. In some cases, select investors or institutions may also have access to Class A shares.

One of the distinguishing features of Class A shares is their enhanced voting rights. Holders of Class A shares often have a more significant say in the company's decisions compared to ordinary shareholders. The extent of these voting rights can differ, with some companies offering a higher voting ratio, meaning one Class A share may carry more votes than an ordinary share.

Class A shares often come with conversion rights, which are important in safeguarding the company's control. In certain trigger events, such as a hostile takeover attempt, Class A shares may be converted into multiple ordinary shares. This defense strategy is designed to maintain control of the company within the management or other eligible shareholders' hands.

Key Takeaways

  • A-Shares, or Class A shares, offer greater voting privileges compared to ordinary shares. This allows holders to have a more significant say in company decisions.
  • A significant feature of Class A shares is their conversion rights. In events like hostile takeover attempts, these shares may be converted into multiple ordinary shares, aiming to safeguard the company's control.
  • A-Shares involve upfront fees with potential savings through breakpoints. Class B shares have no upfront fees but may incur charges upon selling. Class C shares have 12b-1 fees and potential entry/exit costs.

Importance of A-Shares

Stock classes often come with ownership limitations, each serving distinct purposes. Some stock classes are primarily designed for long-term investments and may command a higher market price, while others may yield lower dividend payouts.

The benefits are the greatest. Nonetheless, the stock classes of any excellent corporation should not matter to investors.

All the stocks have some worth, but not all provide the same benefits. The profit share of the ordinary investor is unaffected by the stock class. The real performance of the firm still determines this.

These are typically used to offer senior executives additional control over the company. These shares are also an excellent strategy to protect your company from hostile takeover offers.

Class A share funds relate to sharing categorization within the mutual fund realm. The categorization of shares in mutual funds differs from the typical classification of common or preferred shares in corporations. Consequently, various types of shares exist within mutual funds.

Class A share funds are those in which the first investment is subject to an upfront charge or front-end load. As a result, these shares have reduced marketing expenses and can be beneficial if held for a long time.

In contrast, Class B share funds come with reduced upfront fees but impose deferred sales fees. Therefore, any investment in Class A share funds, or mutual funds in general, should be undertaken only after comprehensive research and understanding, including assessing the expense ratio and exit load.

What are stock classes, and how do they work?

The first thing to grasp is the concept of stock classes. It's a set of mutual fund stock shares with the same rights and advantages. There is no better or worse share in a class. However, several classes have far higher shares than others.

The government seldom regulates stock classes. The company charter gives businesses the authority to choose their regulations. The following are the two main types of company stock:

1. Common stocks

Investors who possess common stock receive dividends when the firm performs successfully. Conversely, they stand to lose nothing if the firm fails.

The only time this does not apply is if the firm goes bankrupt. In that case, a person loses their whole investment. As a result, common shareholders are the most vulnerable.

2. Preferred Stock

Preferred stockholders have a lot more clout in the firm.

They are granted voting rights, shareholder advantages, and bankruptcy protection.

Preferred stockholders get a lot of benefits and aren't exposed to as much danger. The name tells you all you need to know about the class. It is preferable to purchase preferred shares.

How do A-Shares work?

The existence of share classes is due to the desire of a company's management team to exert influence over the company's direction. One way to do so is through Class A shares.

C-level executives and members of the board of directors often hold Class A shares.

Consider the sale of a publicly traded firm with debt to a bigger public corporation. All debt holders first get their money.

The regular Class A shareholders are then compensated. If there is anything left over, the remaining stockholders could be paid.

These owners gain even greater advantages when these shares are occasionally convertible into multiple shares of common stock.

Let's say they decide to sell the business for $50 per share. A further 100,000 Class A shares that are convertible into 500,000 shares of ordinary stock are owned by the company's CEO. When converted and sold, the CEO then receives $25,000,000.

A-Shares advantages

 A-Shares, typically associated with a particular class of common stock, often have distinct advantages that appeal to certain investors. 

The key benefits of A-shares are:

1. Priority for dividends

Imagine a queue of people with their hands outstretched. Everyone desires money. Dividend priority refers to the right of persons who own Class A shares to be first in line. When a corporation distributes dividends, Class A shareholders are paid first.

2. Liquidation protection

A Class-A shareholder's money is protected if the firm fails. People owing debts are the first to be compensated when a firm fails. Second in line are Class A stockholders.

If the company goes bankrupt, it will have a higher chance of retrieving its investment.

3. Better conversion

A Class A share has a higher value than an ordinary share sometimes. These shares having five times the voting rights of a smaller share may have five times the value in the example above.

The true value of each share class is specified in the business charter.

The scarcity of these shares is an unspoken advantage. The public does not have access to these shares. They're also generally not for sale in the public markets.

The idea is that such shares are solely controlled by higher management. For all significant company decisions, they retain main voting rights. This prevents executives from becoming concerned about their position within the organization.

Because of that, everyone can concentrate on making the company's future brighter. Moreover, due to the static nature of Class A shares, they feel confident in their position.

A-Shares disadvantages

There is no perfect ownership class. The preferred stock offers several drawbacks, particularly for stockholders who do not possess these shares.

Among the issues that might arise are:

1. Lack of voting rights/power

Class B and Class C shareholders have minimal authority, even if they have some voting rights.

Most corporate charters include bylaws that disproportionately favor Class A stockholders. By design, they have complete control over practically all of the company's votes.

2. Fixed dividends

Dividends on most preferred stocks have a predetermined rate of return. When the firm performs better, the shareholder does not make more money.

An exemption is only if a company offers participating preferred stock instead of regular preferred stock. This is because fixed dividends limit investors' ability to expand their money.

Is there any advantage of common stocks over preferred stocks?

Is there any advantage of common stocks over preferred stocks?

Common stocks Preferred stocks
  • Common stockholders have a lot of say in how the company is run.
  • Preferred investors have a minimal say in how a firm is run
  • Common investors may even decide corporate elections. This voting privilege offers them some influence over the company's future course.
  •   Preferred stockholders usually do not vote.
  • Common stockholders have endless profit potential. The money is divided among common investors. In these scenarios, a person with a greater investment in common shares might receive a lot more money than someone with fixed dividends.
  • When the firm distributes dividends, preferred owners get their money first. Then, everything that's left over goes into a money pool. As a result, preferred stockholders have constant profit.

When you require a consistent income stream, especially when interest rates are low, you should think about preferred stocks since preferred stock dividends provide a greater income stream than bonds.

Despite being less, the income is more reliable than dividends from ordinary shares.

How do stock classes work in terms of pricing?

A person entitled to acquire Class A stock must pay a front-end fee. You also do not receive ownership credit. Nonetheless, there are a few financial advantages to owning a Class-A stock.

The marketing or distribution charge for a fund, known as a 12b-1 fee, is paid by shareholders at a reduced rate. As a result, their yearly expenditures are also lower than those of lesser and more common stock classes.

A buyer of Class A shares can save money by taking advantage of the breakpoint. This purchasing amount qualifies the buyer for a sales charge reduction. If a person meets the following criteria, they are eligible:

  1. Purchases a large number of Class A shares.
  2. Makes a commitment to buy more mutual fund shares on a regular basis.
  3. Own additional mutual fund assets from the same family.
  4. The front-end fee is not applied to Class B shares. The good news is that every dollar you spend goes straight toward your ownership stake.

The disadvantage is that shares may be subject to a delayed sales burden. Shareholders would pay this charge when they sold their Class B shares.

The business charter lays out all of the regulations in detail. Class B shareholders should read them carefully to avoid being caught off guard if they decide to sell their Class B shares.

The delayed sales load charge, also known as an exit fee, exists for a reason. Its goal is to have shareholders reconsider selling their stock.

As an incentive for long-term Class B shareholders, the departure charge costs less yearly. In addition, after a long period of holding, a business charter may convert Class B to Class A shares.

This share class has additional expenses. The 12b-1 charge on Class B shares is likely to be more significant. The costs are also greater yearly. For these reasons, an investor should always choose Class A shares over Class B shares if given the option.

In terms of pricing, Class C shares are the most expensive alternative. They'll be charged the most 12b-1 fees.

The yearly expenses are also the costliest. As a result, class C shares cannot be upgraded to Class B or superior. Instead, they'll always be classified as Class C. That's a problem since Class C shares have the greatest cost-to-income ratio.

This class has limited, if any, voting power. Finally, both entry and exit costs apply to Class C shares. However, they are frequently less expensive than Class A and Class B shares with identical constraints.

Class D, Class R, and Class I

There are other types of classes than class A, B, and C shares, and it is very important to know them too.

The following are the other types of shares:

1. Class D stocks

Class D stocks allow investors to invest without paying upfront or exit fees. Instead, the entire sum is invested in the stock.

Class D shares are popular because of their low expense ratios and lack of 12b-1 fees. If these shares were available to everyone, they would be more popular.

Unfortunately, they are only available through specified retirement programs and brokerage firms. Everyone who can invest in Class D equities should do so.

2. Class R stocks

Class R stocks do not charge any upfront fees, although they charge 12b-1 costs. The additional charge isn't a huge deal because most employers match these funds in a 401(k).

3. Class I stocks

These shares are for those who have a lot of spare cash.

Class I shares can be purchased by anybody prepared to make a big investment, potentially $1 million or more. In addition, fees will be reduced, equivalent to those of pension funds and endowments.

These are the least expensive of all mutual fund alternatives. In addition, if an investor satisfies certain conditions, corporations will convert other share classes into I shares.

When to purchase an A-share?

Because of the voting rights and other benefits, Class A shares are always the best. Even yet, there are times when it's a solid investment in each class.

Below are some thoughts regarding this kind of investment:

  • Long-term investors should buy Class A shares. Yearly, their costs will be reduced. Also, there are no entry or exit costs with Class A shares.
  • Class B shares are appropriate for investors with a medium-term investment horizon.
  • Class B shares are a good option for someone who wishes to own a stock for an extended period but not more than ten years. This is especially true for organizations with decreasing departure costs over time.
  • Businesses with Class B shares that may be upgraded to Class A shares are also attractive investments.
  •  Short-term investors should buy Class C shares. Even so, it's the kind of stock that should be held for at least a year.
  • Class C shares have the potential for extreme price volatility, which can benefit investors. However, the cost of owning this stock will rise over time. That is why it is not a suitable long-term investment.


When acquiring firm stock, it's crucial to recognize and comprehend the various share classes.

As an investor, it is vital to understand the various kinds so that you may make better investment decisions and select the share classification that best meets your needs.

Understanding the fees connected with various share kinds is crucial to see how they affect your overall profits is important.

Moreover, you should figure out what your top investment priorities are. For example, you should buy Class A shares if you want extra voting rights.

Furthermore, as the share issuer, it is critical to understand the various levels of shares so that, if necessary, you may focus on voting power or dividend distribution to a certain class type.

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