As with most facets of life, you can invest in shares of stocks, mutual funds and other securities online. If you wish, you may never have to speak to a live person when the time comes to sell shares of one of your investments. If you don't have online access to your brokerage account today, most financial institutions have a process that allows you to register to view and manage your account online. A majority of firms permit you to sell shares of securities you own online.
Contact the brokerage, bank or other financial institution you have the account that holds the shares you wish to sell. You can find their contact information on the monthly or quarterly statements they send to you via snail mail or email. Ask if the firm offers online account management features. Most do and will explain how to register for online account access. Some will even walk you through the process of set it up for you with your consent. Alternatively, you can visit the firm's website and search for a link that says something like "Register for account access." In some cases, you may already have online access, particularly if you opened your account online initially or online privileges came with an account set up offline.
Log in to your account online using the log-in name and password provided when you set up the account or during the online access registration process. Generally, the registration process involves providing basic account information, such as your account number and verifying account information, including your Social Security number and contact information.
View your portfolio. Look for the stock, mutual fund or other security you wish to sell.
Click on the link next to or near the security that says "Sell," or "make a trade." Different companies use different interfaces. While there may be slight differences from firm to firm, the general process is the same and should be self-evident once you are logged into your account and viewing your holdings.
Indicate the that you would like to "sell" shares from a menu that typically gives several options, such as buy, sell and sell short. Input the number of shares to sell. Some firms give you the option of instructing them to sell a certain dollar amount if you are selling mutual fund shares. In a mutual fund sales transaction, you might also have the option of selling shares and purchasing shares in a different fund as part of the same transaction.
Select the terms of your order. For a mutual fund, your options are usually limited to selling shares or selling or buying shares in another fund. When selling shares of a stock, you can place either a "market" or "limit" order. With a market order, your brokerage will sell your shares at the next available time during market hours for the best possible market price. If you request a limit order, you enter a price, which represents the lowest price you are willing to sell the stock for, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Review your order for accuracy and submit it. If you are placing a stock trade during market hours, you will likely not have time to cancel it if you made an error. You can generally change or cancel stock trades made when the market is closed or mutual fund trades, which are not executed until the after the market closes, before your firm executes them.
As a writer since 2002, Rocco Pendola has published numerous academic and popular articles in addition to working as a freelance grant writer and researcher. His work has appeared on SFGate and Planetizen and in the journals "Environment & Behavior" and "Health and Place." Pendola has a Bachelor of Arts in urban studies from San Francisco State University.