I am an advocate of dividend growth investing – an investment model where I own part of a strong company instead of renting a stock for a relatively short amount of time. I believe shareholders should compensated by companies sharing their profits, while investors stay invested instead of selling and exiting an investment to realize any profit. In addition, I want my investment dollars working harder and providing me increased profits year after year. This basic principle has led me to the path down dividend growth investing and find it a sustainable reliable investing model – whether in accumulation phase or retirement phase.
Early Investing years
As with most investors starting out, I made my mistakes by chasing growth companies – paying no attention to valuation. My first investments were via expensive mutual funds – where I paid an exorbitant fee for the privilege of investing. Little did I know that those 2 - 4% management fees were going to impose a hefty drag on my performance. But as I got more familiar with the investing world, and got more educated over the years, I started dabbling in individual stocks. This was right around the time when the financial crisis hit the US (and world) markets circa 2008. What did I end up with my first investments? Banks & Financial companies! While the correction was ongoing, I kept buying companies such as Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, etc. As most investors are aware, these institutions do not exist anymore or exist as a faded memory within a different organization. I shared a post documenting these mistakes here.
Making such mistakes early on in my investing career was a great lifelong lesson. I realized that even the “experts” in the media didn’t know what they were talking about and no one can accurately predict the future. Each investor should perform his/her own due diligence and take risks accordingly. It is important to remember that there are always risks involved when it comes to investing. There is no free lunch!
Dividend Growth Investing
Once I realized that investing via growth-only companies that are always in the limelight of the media wasn’t working for me, I happened upon the beauty of dividend growth investing ( such as this blog www.dividendgrowthinvestor.com). This model has formulated my mantra for building my portfolio over the course of last decade or so. By choosing to invest in dividend growers, I am picking a small segment of the companies that I believe will perform better than its peers in the industry group. By owning a fraction of the company, I am not renting shares that I eventually need to sell and exit my investment to see any profit. These companies share a portion of their profits with me on a regular basis.
This is a wonderful model for investors. You invest in companies and sit back and collect the dividends quarter after quarter and each year, those dividends increase, hopefully beating inflation rate. By subscribing to this idea, I can stop worrying about what the overall market is doing. Whether the overall market is up or down doesn’t matter. All I care about is whether my businesses are healthy and growing to generate increased profits year after year.
The traditional understanding has been to look for aggressive funds when younger and grow the investment over the accumulation phase. As investors get closer to retirement, they are encouraged to switch to fixed income funds. There are a few problems with this model – just look at what happened during the financial crisis. Investors suffered major losses during the crisis in their stock portion, and if you happened to retire around that time, the drop in interest rates did not (still do not) provide any meaningful income.
With dividend growth investing, the idea is to simply receive dividends on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. If you are still in accumulation phase, reinvest to snowball the investment and if the income is needed (i.e., in retirement) use the cash to spend, without touching the principal investment. By following this model, I am building my own pension without relying on any external entities.
There are a lot of advantages when it comes to following this dividend growth investing model.
One of the most important one is: it pays to be patient. Many investors, including institutional investors, are forced to swing even when market conditions aren’t ideal. This causes erratic behavior and the need to time the market. As the popular saying goes, “It’s not about timing the market; it’s the time in the market that counts”. Time is the most important aspect when it comes to growing your investment. And dividend growth investing allows investors to sit back, be patient, and let the investment grow year after year.
Another major advantage that I love about Dividend Growth Investing is that there is a safety net involved when I overpay for an investment (within reason). I do not need to worry about calling a bottom for a stock. If I overpay for a stock, time takes care of the mistake by allowing me to collect the dividends while I wait for the market to do what it does best.
There are more advantages such as saving on fees, cutting the middle-man out by investing directly in a company etc. I share my thoughts regularly on my blog at Roadmap2Retire. Be sure to stop by and connect with me there. I look forward to hearing from you on what your thoughts are on dividend growth investing.