July 19th, 2010

Brian and Anne

What is it with the Medallion Guarantee?

I've changed my name before. I don't remember anyone asking for more than a copy of the marriage license and possibly a copy of my driver's license.

Now I've got three companies, all investment firms (well, in one case, the stock trade office of a company whose stock I hold), asking for a representative from a bank (not a notary public) to witness the fact that I'm me, and promise that my new signature comes from the same person as the old one.

This might be tricky with the company whose stock I hold directly, actually, since I never officially changed my name from my maiden name with them, and I'm not a member of any bank right now that has my maiden signature on file. Well, I've been a member of Ann Arbor Commerce since before I got married, so they *might*, but that was a long time ago.

In any case, this feels a little weird. Like these companies are declaring that they don't care what legalities the state or federal government might choose to document, they only trust other banks, although as I look into it, it appears the medallion signature program is overseen by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This looks like yet another service that comes free to people who are well-off financially and have standing relationships with institutions, since if I didn't have a long-standing relationship with Ann Arbor Commerce I could be charged a fee for this, and it looks like if I didn't have a bank account at all, that fee would be substantial and the process could involve lawyers. Yet I can only imagine that situation *must* occur sometimes.

Wouldn't you think? I can see how this would increase security for stock trading companies, but it seems like it does so by imposing a burden on individuals.

And if I'd known who would require it, I would have collected all their paperwork in advance and taken them into the bank all at once, so as not to inconvenience my bank officer...