What’s a Directed Share Program?
In short: A Directed share program (DSP) gives an issuing company the chance to set aside a certain amount of shares, at the IPO price, for a specific group of people.
A DSP allows an issuer to reserve a certain amount of shares for purchase by a specific group of people. Sometimes known as a "friends and family” offering, this group usually includes employees, valued customers, vendors, or others who have a relationship with the company.
DSPs are designed to recognize “friends” of the company by giving them an opportunity to buy shares at the IPO price. There are regulatory requirements and rules around eligibility for participation.
Generally, an IPO refers to the first time a company offers its stock for sale to the public. Investment banks help the company gauge demand and set the IPO price and date. On listing day, shares become available to trade by the public in the stock market.
If you're invited to participate in a DSP, you can follow the link you receive or find the company listed in the IPO Access list.
Open and fund a Robinhood brokerage account if you don't have one already.
Confirm your eligibility under FINRA Rule 5130.
Review the company’s prospectus, which describes the offering, including the potential risks of making an investment.
Place your request for shares. Please note that you must have buying power equal to or greater than the total cost of your request.
Confirm your DSP request. Confirmation of a valid order is not a guarantee of allocation.
If you’re allocated shares, the total cost will be deducted from your buying power and the shares should appear in your brokerage account after settlement. Any unused buying power held for your request will be returned to your brokerage account.
DSPs are only available to those who have been invited by the issuer. Robinhood cannot select, alter, or influence the company’s DSP invitee list. We administer DSPs for companies wishing to reserve a portion of their offerings for certain people who might not otherwise receive an allocation of shares.
If you’re interested in investing in IPOs and haven’t received a DSP invite, there’s still an opportunity to participate. IPO Access was designed for everyone and allows all customers to have an opportunity to invest in IPOs at the IPO price.
To start a deposit in the mobile app (iOS and Android):
Tap the Account tab (person icon) in the bottom right corner (if you’re an Android user, tap the Menu icon in the top right corner)
Tap “Transfer to Robinhood”
Choose the account you’d like to transfer from
Enter the deposit
Review the deposit
Submit the deposit
To start a deposit on web:
Click “Account” in the upper right corner of the screen
Choose the account you’d like to transfer from on the panel labeled Transfers (right side of the screen)
Enter the deposit amount
You can also link a bank account to your app and fund your account by transferring funds from your bank account. These funds appear as Pending in your History until the funds clear in up to five business days.
Your request lets us know the maximum amount of shares you are interested in buying. A request is also known as a “conditional offer to buy” (COB). A COB is like a "buy order,” except the COB stays pending and does not become an active order until the IPO is priced.
Once you’ve funded your Robinhood brokerage account, you can request DSP shares by following these steps:
Follow the link you received in your email or find your company listed in the IPO Access list
View the company’s stock detail page
Review the company’s prospectus, which describes its stock offering, and the potential risks of investing
Tap Confirm eligibility and agree to terms
Tap the Start Request button
Enter the details of your DSP request
Tap the Review button
Swipe up to submit your request for shares
Wait for allocation on IPO list day
You can only request shares after the underwriter sets the initial price range.
You can request an amount of shares that is equal to or less than the amount of available buying power in your Robinhood brokerage account, plus the additional 20% buffer. The buffer amount is held to account for potential price movements and is based on the highest price in the range. Once you make your first bank deposit to your Robinhood brokerage account you’ll get instant access to up to $1,000 for your request. You can transfer more money to your brokerage account at any time.
If you’d like to request more than $1,000 in shares, you’ll need to transfer the total amount at least 6 business days before the expected IPO date (transferred funds can take 5 business days to settle). Making a timely transfer helps ensure that you’ll have enough buying power available before the order window closes the night before the IPO.
The notional amount for the shares you request will be held from your buying power once your request is submitted. Any unused buying power will be returned to your account upon allocation. There may be DSP restrictions placed by the company on the number of shares you can purchase.
A conditional offer to buy (COB) is similar to a "buy order,” except a COB is not binding until the company’s registration statement is effective, the offering is priced within the price range in the preliminary prospectus and there has been no material change to the preliminary prospectus. You have until the end of the confirmation window to edit or cancel your COB after final pricing.
Whether you submit a request for shares with IPO Access or as a DSP participant, you're placing a COB. You can indicate the amount of shares you hope to purchase, but keep in mind that a COB just means your order is eligible for an allocation of shares and doesn’t guarantee you will receive an allocation.
Before your COB can be accepted, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) must declare the company’s registration statement effective, and the final offering price must be within the price range at the time you submit your COB.
If you place a COB and you’re allocated shares, your COB becomes an order, and you’ll purchase those shares.
We display the confirmation window date(s) and time for you on the IPO’s stock detail page in the app. You’re able to enter, edit, or cancel your COB or request for IPO shares up until this time; however, once this time has passed, your request cannot be changed until allocation is complete (which is typically mid-morning on the list date for the IPO).
It’s important to note, if the company’s final IPO price is above or below 20% of the anticipated price range, you must re-confirm your conditional offer to buy shares within the confirmation window. If no action is taken, your request will be canceled. We’ll send you notifications if this happens, so you have an opportunity to reconfirm your request at the new price.
If the final price is within 20% of the price range, you don’t need to reconfirm your COB or request. However, you will only be given until the end of the confirmation window to cancel before; once the window has passed, you will not be able to withdraw or change your order.
Submit an application in your Robinhood app.
In the coming days you’ll receive an email either confirming your brokerage account application’s been approved or asking for a bit more information.
If we request a document to verify your identity, we’ll include instructions for uploading your documents securely. Please give us five to seven days to review the materials and open your brokerage account.
While submitting an application, you can queue one deposit before your account has been approved to ensure a smooth funding experience.
When this happens, we’ll wait until your account is officially approved before starting the queued deposit from your bank account into your Robinhood account.
Yes, existing Robinhood customers, who have been invited to participate in a DSP, can use their existing brokerage account without having to create a new account.
The email where you received the DSP invitation must match the email address on your Robinhood account. This is true for new and existing customers.
No, the invitation to participate is non-transferrable and specific to you and the email address provided to us. Only those friends, family and employees who were invited by the company and meet the eligibility requirements can participate in the DSP.
Yes, you’ll be responsible for purchasing the shares requested if they are allocated to you. You can cancel or edit your DSP request up until the COB deadline. Once the deadline has passed, you cannot withdraw or edit your COB. If shares are allocated to your brokerage account, you will be purchasing the shares at the IPO price. So, you should only request the amount of shares you are genuinely interested in purchasing as you may be allocated all the shares requested.
The total amount is held from your buying power (including the 20% buffer) once you place your initial request. This could be days before the actual IPO date when allocation occurs. Once you are allocated shares, the held buying power will be withdrawn from your brokerage account and any unused portions will be returned.
You may submit a request for shares and only receive some, or none, of what you requested. There are a few reasons why you might not receive all the IPO shares you request but ultimately, the company running the DSP decides who is allocated shares and how many shares each person receives.
The issuing company files a prospectus with the SEC as part of the process of becoming a publicly traded company. A prospectus is an important document that a company must file to explain the nature of the security it’s offering to the public. It holds the information you may need to make an investment decision, like the history of the company, its management team, financial performance, growth potential, and a disclosure of risks that an investor may want to consider. Customers can review a copy of the prospectus from the company’s stock detail page.