Reinvesting dividends can be a powerful way to boost your long-term returns from the stock market.
When you invest in shares, there are essentially two ways in which you can earn a return. One, the share price goes up – capital growth. And two, dividend payments – income. For many investors, the dividend payments they receive are an important part of their overall income which they use to support their general spending.
However, for people who don’t need an income from their shareholdings – or don’t need it yet – reinvesting these dividends can dramatically increase their long-term investment returns.
How the magic of compounding can work wonders for investors
The chart shows the huge difference that reinvestment can make. Suppose you had invested £5,000 in the FTSE 100 index of leading UK shares back in 1985. That £5,000 would have grown to £27,211* by 2017. However, if you had reinvested the dividend payments in to the FTSE 100, your original £5,000 would have grown to £91,458* – more than three times as much.
With the former, your investment would have grown 444%. Not to be sniffed at - plus you’ve been able to spend the dividend income every year. However, by reinvesting the dividends, your investment would have grown 1,729% overall.
David Hood, a senior investment analyst at Brewin Dolphin, says: “The long-term rewards from reinvesting dividends can be very significant. Reinvestment is certainly worth considering if investors don’t need their dividend income at the moment – and it’s straightforward to do with many investment funds.”
Compounding: “the most powerful force in the universe”
This substantial difference in investment returns shows the benefit of compounding.
It can be thought of as a snowballing in the value of your investment, as your reinvested dividends buy more shares which pay more dividends which in turn buy more shares – and so on. As the chart highlights, its benefit can be particularly impressive over the long term.
No less a figure than Albert Einstein reportedly even called compounding “the eighth wonder of the world” and “the most powerful force in the universe”.
Investors can harness the power of compounding by, for example, starting to save for their pension at an earlier age rather than leaving it until later in life. This can help them accumulate a bigger pension pot than someone who starts saving later. Or by investing on behalf of a child from a young age, perhaps through a Junior ISA, so that when the child reaches adulthood they have a sizeable sum of money to use for university costs or even as a deposit to buy their first property.
If you’d like to know more about how compounding could transform your investment returns and how to use it its power in your financial planning, please get in touch with your local Brewin Dolphin office.
*Returns exclude investment costs, do not take account of inflation, and are before tax.
Article first published: October 2018
The value of investments can fall and you may get back less than you invested.
Past performance is not a guide to future performance.
No investment is suitable in all cases and if you have any doubts as to an investment's suitability then you should contact us.
The opinions expressed in this document are not necessarily the views held throughout Brewin Dolphin Ltd.