Dividend ETFs: Discover The 3 Pros And 3 Cons

Dividend Earner

Dividend Earner

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3 min read Affiliate Disclosure

In low-rate environments, high-yielding assets become attractive for those seeking income. Dividend ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) are common investments for income investors. They hold a basket of dividend-paying REITs, preferred stocks, or dividend stocks.

Investors have three options when buying dividend-producing investments to generate passive income: purchase individual stocks, buy dividend mutual funds, or invest in ETFs. All three choices have merit, but dividend ETFs stand out for several different reasons. In this post, we will explore the pros and cons of dividend ETFs and highlight a few worth considering.

Dividend stocks have proven to outperform the stock market at an aggregate but it’s not always easy for investors to select individual stocks. This is where a dividend ETF can help. However, it’s important to know that not all dividend ETFs are equal just like not all dividend investor have the same goals. Some invest in dividend stocks or ETFs for growth and some do it for income. Both 

Pros of Dividend ETFs

  1. Diversification. A dividend ETF is more diversified than individual stocks. Although ETF share prices can fluctuate just like stock, your investment is based on the aggregated performance of the ETF and not just on one stock. It can be good since you minimize the downside but you also minimize the upside. A stock can go to zero, this scenario is unlikely with a diversified ETF.
  2. Higher Yield Potential. With some ETFs, the high can be higher due to the company using covered calls to generate more income from the holdings.
  3. Free ETF fees. Some discount brokers offer no fee transactions on ETF trades.

Cons for Dividend ETFs

  1. No discounted DRIPs. Some individual dividend stocks offer dividend reinvestment plans (DRIP). These programs are a way for investors to build a stock position over time, using the dividends paid out to repurchase new shares at a discount. Dividend ETFs only offer synthetic DRIPs through the discount broker.
  2. Blended Yield. Due to the nature of the ETF, investors end up with a blended yield of the basket of stocks, bonds or other investment vehicles.
  3. Income Distribution. Individual dividend stocks will support the tax credit by paying a dividend, but the ETF bundle can do many trades to provide investors with income, resulting in a distribution with various tax treatments. See the difference between dividends and distribution. For tax tracking, choosing the right investment account is important.

Are Dividend ETFs for Retirement?

Contrary to what you may think, dividend ETFs are for building wealth, not for retirement. Sure, you can generate income, but you don’t control the income, which can be stressful.

Whether or not you hold dividend ETFs in retirement will be based on your withdrawal strategy.

The cash strategy for your safety net may be based on GICs or bonds. Some bonds ETFs can play a role in your retirement.

Should You Buy Dividend ETFs?

Yes, dividend ETFs can be part of an income-producing portfolio. If you are looking for income, the pros outweigh the cons. However, an index ETF is probably better for a growth portfolio.

Here is a list of dividend ETFs to get you started. Take a look and see if these are right for your portfolio.

  • S&P/TSX Canadian Dividend Aristocrats Index Fund (CDZ)
  • BMO Canadian Dividend (ZDV)
  • iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index (DVY)
  • SPDR S&P Dividend (SDY)
  • WisdomTree LargeCap Dividend – (DLN)
  • Vanguard Dividend Appreciation – (VIG)

Feel free to review the guide to Canadian Dividend ETFs with a review of the top 10 holdings.

wdt_ID ETF Industry MER Yield Net Assets
1 HXF Financials 0.28 3.87 20M
2 ZWB Big Banks 0.72 5.05 1,844M
3 CIC Big Banks 0.84 4.46 150M
5 HEF Financials 0.83 5.56 15M
6 XFN Financials 0.61 2.99 1,039M
7 FIE Financials & REITs 0.97 7.02 653M
8 ZEB Big Banks 0.62 3.77 1,347M
9 CEW Big Banks & Insurance 0.60 2.89 148M