Difference between Ordinary shares and preference shares

How do preference shares differ from ordinary shares?

The differences between preference shares and common shares can be seen in their unique traits. Voting rights, dividend preferences, and the sequence of payments made after a company’s liquidation are the main areas of contention. Another important contrast is that investors often receive preference shares rather than ordinary shares, which are typically awarded to firm founders.

Ordinary shares frequently give shareholders the opportunity to vote on significant corporate matters, such as crucial decisions and the appointment of board members. Preference shareholders, on the other hand, typically have few or no voting rights.

Shares graph

Preference shareholders have priority treatment when it comes to receiving dividends. Assuring a steady return on their investment, they are entitled to fixed dividend payments at a predetermined rate.

Contrarily, the board of directors’ actions and the company’s profitability are used to determine how much dividend an ordinary shareholder will receive.

Preference shareholders have a better priority to receive their money back in the case of corporate liquidation. They receive preference in the distribution of assets over regular shareholders, increasing the likelihood that they will recover their investment in the event that the company is forced to liquidate.

In conclusion, voting rights, dividend preferences, and precedence in liquidation are the main differences between preference shares and common stock. Another significant contrast is that investors often receive preference shares rather than ordinary shares, which are normally awarded to firm founders. These variations contribute to the distinctive qualities and advantages linked to each kind of share.

What does the term “stock” or “shares” mean?

The units of ownership are known as shares, and possessing a stock is simply the term used to describe having a portion of a corporation. In essence, there are few differences between stocks and shares.

Let’s now examine the two most popular share classes: preference shares and common shares.

Preference shares and ordinary shares are two types of shares that will be discussed in greater detail in this post.

What are the different types of shares?

There are primarily 3-4 common types of shares, including:

  • Ordinary shares
  • Preference shares
  • Contributing shares
  • Company issued futures

Australia’s Share Types

In Australia, there are various types of shares that people commonly trade as part of their everyday lives. Among these, preference shares and ordinary shares are the most popular choices.

Definition of preference shares: What They Are

Due to their special qualities, preference shares have more power than common shares. The benefit of these shares is that they get dividends before other shares do. Shareholders who own preference shares, however, are not entitled to vote.

The fact that some preference shares may be “hybrid”—that is, convertible into other kinds of shares at any time—is another noteworthy feature of these shares.

What Are Ordinary Shares? : A Definition

The most popular and frequently favored sort of shares among investors is ordinary shares, sometimes referred to as fully paid shares or FPO. Investors can actively engage in decision-making when it comes to ordinary shares because they have full voting rights. Additionally, there are two classes of ordinary shares: Class A and Class B.


Given that common shares are the preferred option for many, it is safe to infer that when investors talk about shares, they mostly mean common shares.

We will present a thorough comparison between preference shares and ordinary shares in the sections that follow this one, highlighting the important distinctions and traits between them.

What exactly are contributing shares?

These shares are known as partially paid shares meaning payment of shares have installment and they are paid at different faces or call dates. These shares can be purchased and sold on ASX, NYSE, or any stock exchange, simply like any other type of shares.

What are company-issued futures?

This kind of stock, which you can also refer to as a company’s authority or option to buy a specific number of shares at a predetermined price before a specific due date, is offered to shareholders. Futures trading is very profitable for many people. Futures trading is available on certain well-known sites, such as Quantfury Trading.

5 Key Differences Between Ordinary and Preference Shares

Ordinary SharesPreference Shares
Dividends are paid lastDividends are paid first
Have voting rightsNo voting rights
They are issue to foundersThey are issue to investors
Dividends are not fixeFixed dividends
They have no  priority in company liquidation and paid at lastThey are issued to investors

Preference shares vs ordinary shares

The following are the main differences between ordinary and preference shares:

  • Priority for Dividends: Preference shareholders benefit from receiving dividends ahead of regular shareholders. This means that preference shareholders are given preference in obtaining their portion of dividends when both types of shareholders—preference and ordinary—attend a company meeting and vote to distribute dividends.
  • Distribution of Remaining Dividends: Any monies that are left over after preference shareholders have paid their dividends are distributed to common shareholders. They receive their part of the dividends following the deduction of the Preference Shareholders.
  • The only stockholders with voting rights are ordinary shareholders. Ordinary shareholders have the power to vote and have an impact on decisions during shareholder meetings and other times when decisions must be made.
  • Preference shareholders do not, however, have voting rights. The decisions reached by the votes of regular shareholders at meetings must be accepted and followed.
  • Ordinary shareholders will be the last to receive a payment if the company is forced into liquidation for whatever reason. The corporation prioritizes paying preferred stockholders first.
  • Simply put, in the event of a corporate liquidation, regular shareholders have a bigger investment risk than preference shareholders.
  • The dividend paid to preference shareholders is set and decided at the time the shares are issued. In contrast, the dividend payment to common shareholders may change based on the expansion and profitability of the business. Depending on the overall financial performance of the business, it may be higher during profitable periods and lower during less prosperous ones.

These distinctions between ordinary shares and preference shares in terms of dividend payment stability are highlighted.

Types of preference shares

  • Cumulative preference shares
  • Noncumulative preference shares
  • Participatory preference shares
  • Convertible preference shares


Ordinary shares and preference shares differ in a number of ways, but the most frequent ones have to do with voting rights, dividend priority, liquidation priority, and dividend amount.

Ordinary shareholders have the right to vote on corporate matters, whereas preference stockholders do not, in terms of voting privileges. Preference shareholders must follow the decisions taken by common shareholders as a result.

There are a few further differences between preference shares and ordinary shares in addition to voting rights. These include the payout amount and the order in which dividends are distributed.

You probably already know a lot about shares and have probably invested in them if you’re reading about the comparison between preference shares and ordinary shares.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the main difference between ordinary shares and preference shares?

   – The main difference lies in voting rights. Ordinary shareholders have the right to vote on company matters, while preference shareholders generally do not possess voting rights and have to rely on the decisions made by ordinary shareholders.

2. How do dividend payments differ between ordinary shares and preference shares?

   – Dividend payments differ in terms of priority and amount. Preference shareholders have a higher priority when it comes to receiving dividends. They are entitled to receive dividends before ordinary shareholders. However, preference shareholders typically receive a fixed dividend amount, while ordinary shareholders’ dividends are variable and depend on the company’s profits.

3. What happens during liquidation or company dissolution for ordinary shares and preference shares?

   – In the event of liquidation, preference shareholders have a higher priority in receiving the company’s assets. They are paid back their investment or a predetermined amount before ordinary shareholders. Ordinary shareholders receive their share of the remaining assets, if any after the preference shareholders’ claims have been satisfied.

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