If any of you folks are participants in NWBI's "Dividend Reinvestment & Direct Stock Purchase and Sale Plan," (DRIP) and if you've made any recent optional cash purchases, e.g. within the past month, check your account investment history. The transfer agent, American Stock Transfer and Trust (AST), charged me a purchase commission for each of the two purchases I made this month (November). According the most recent plan brochure posted on AST's website, "There are no participant transaction fees for purchasing Northwest Bancshares, Inc. shares through the optional cash payment feature of the Plan. The fees and commissions are paid by NWBI." If you were charged commissions for optional cash purchases, I suggest calling Customer Service at AST and bringing it to their attention.
Even reinvested dividends should carry no charges. The Plan brochure states "There are no participant fees for investing dividends. The fees and commissions are paid by NWBI." A dividend will be paid tomorrow, 18 November 2010. I will be checking for any commission charge on my reinvested dividend.
The NWBI Plan is a pretty attractive plan. NWBI and AST make it easy and cheap to build a long term investment in NWBI. This isn't necessarily true of other plans involving other companies or other transfer agents. In fact, many of the other plans with AST involve various fees and charges. Susquehanna Bancshares' (SUSQ) plan with AST, for example, charges the investor $2.50 per transaction AND a commission of 10 cents per share purchased. This makes NWBI look good. Not to mention that NWBI is a better investment than SUSQ.