Stock represents a claim on the company's assets and earnings. As you acquire more stock, your ownership stake in the company becomes greater. A stock is represented by a stock certificate which is now known as holding shares "in street name". One vote per share to elect the board of directors at annual meetings is the extent to which you have a say in the company. The management of the company is supposed to increase the value of the firm for shareholders.
The importance of being a shareholder is that you are entitled to a portion of the company's profits and have a claim on assets. Stocks can (and do) create massive amounts of wealth, but they are with great risks.
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