Fidelity research* shows while 75% of savers have an ISA, the majority hold their money in cash
A saver's returns could have been enhanced by almost 10 times by investing in stocks and shares rather than cash over the last decade
London, 7 March 2012: Three years after interest rates were frozen at 0.5% and with no change in sight for savers, equity income remains a compelling option, says Fidelity Worldwide Investment.
A survey* by Fidelity shows 60% of people still describe themselves as savers despite the tough economic times. However, with money tight, around a third say they save under £1,000 a year, making it even more important that they make the most of their savings.
While three quarters of savers are benefiting from the tax advantages offered by ISAs, the majority are still choosing to park their money in cash. Fidelity's research shows a typical cash ISA, into which £50 has been invested every month over the last 10 years, grew by £249. Yet someone who saved the same amount into the FTSE All Share through a stocks and shares ISA would have achieved a profit of £2,359**.
Fidelity believes that investing in companies that pay dividends is particularly attractive at this point in the economic cycle, not only for savers seeking an income but for those who can reinvest dividends in order to achieve long-term growth.
Tom Stevenson, Investment Director at Fidelity Worldwide Investments, comments: "Investing in dividend-paying stocks provides defensive qualities to a portfolio while the yields currently on offer are high by historical standards and compared to other assets. Equity income investing is also supported by historical evidence which suggests that dividends account for a large share of total returns. Consistent dividend-payers and growers also tend to be excellent stock market performers over time. All in all, this makes investing for equity income a compelling proposition in today's market environment."
Why now for equity income?
Dividends become even more important in uncertain times. In tough economic and market conditions, investors can make their savings more defensive by favouring those companies with stable earnings, which have a proven ability to produce good results regardless of the ups and downs of the economic cycle.
Companies whose earnings are reliable and who have a consistent record of paying out and growing dividends become particularly attractive. Investing in such companies not only gives investors the comfort of an attractive income stream in an otherwise low yield environment, the dividend payouts also provide a cushion against possible price declines.
Can dividends be maintained?
Detailed research is required to ascertain which stocks can sustain and grow their dividends. During the recent financial crisis, earnings dropped sharply and dividend payments were no longer sustainable for many companies. This was very much the case for European and US banks. At first, the share prices of these banks fell sharply and, for a while, they appeared to have very attractive dividend yields. But any investor buying into this false signal would have been sorely disappointed because the dividends of many banks were subsequently scrapped.
The key is to select high-yielding companies whose financial condition is strong and who are likely to keep paying their dividends. Even more valuable are those companies which not only continue to pay but also grow their dividend payments.
Tom Stevenson concludes: "ISA investments in 2011 were very focused on income, reflecting the continued poor returns available on cash deposits. Dividend investing strategies tend to have defensive qualities that are well suited to the current challenging environment. The fact that many of these proven dividend-payers are high-quality, blue chips with strong balance sheets and high cash flows is attractive.
"Moreover, total returns can be hugely enhanced if dividends are re-invested. History shows that over the long run, it is actually the compound growth of reinvested dividends that delivers the majority of total returns. In short, equity income plus patience is a fantastic growth strategy."
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* Fidelity Research: Carried out by Opinion Matters between 14/02/2012 and 17/02/2012. Sample: 1284 UK Adults
** Source: Morningstar. Figures based on an investment of £50 per month between 1/2/2002-1/2/2012 in the UK Savings 2500+ Invt NR (NX) GBP and FTSE AllSh TR GBP (NX).
Fidelity Worldwide Investment is a global leader in asset management, providing investment products and services to individuals and institutions in the UK, continental Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Established in 1969, the company has over 5,000 staff in 24 countries and manages or administers client assets of £167.1bn. It has over 7 million customer holdings and manages more than 740 equity, fixed income, property and asset allocation funds. The company's fund managers receive research from one of the largest proprietary research teams, based in 12 countries around the world. Fidelity Worldwide Investment is an independent asset management company which is privately owned. Data as at 30 Dec 2011.
Any opinions expressed are made at the time of writing and can be subject to change without notification.
For further information, please contact:
Fidelity Worldwide Investment
020 7074 5262
Fidelity Worldwide Investment
Press Office Address: Fidelity Worldwide Investment, 25 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 5TA
Fidelity Worldwide Investment is a global leader in asset management, providing investment products and services to individuals and institutions in the UK, continental Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Established in 1969, the company has over 5,000 staff in 24 countries and manages or administers client assets of £165.5bn. It has over 7 million customer holdings and manages more than 740 equity, fixed income, property and asset allocation funds.
FIL Limited and its subsidiary companies serve the major markets of the world by providing investment products and services to individuals and institutional investors outside the US. Issued by Financial Administration Services Limited, authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Services Authority. Fidelity, Fidelity Worldwide Investment, FundsNetworkTM, the Fidelity Worldwide Investment and FundsNetwork® logo and the F symbol are trademarks of FIL Limited.
With an award-winning range of investment funds and segregated mandates, Fidelity Worldwide Investment (FIL) is the investment company of choice for an ever-expanding array of financial professionals and corporate clients.
Fidelity Worldwide (FIL) also provides a wide variety of investment products and services for private clients. These investments include ISAs, Junior ISAs, Workplace ISA, Share Dealing, Investment Trusts and a range of pensions, such as a Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPS). The company also offers a Multi-Asset Portfolio as part of their Wealth Management Service.