Practical tips, insights and articles to help you build the business, wealth, and lifestyle you want

Mastering Dividends: Navigating Australia’s Investment Landscape

Article By Rebecca Faiers | | Financial Planning

Dividends are the staple of many investors’ portfolios, especially in Australia where the federal government’s dividend imputation system provides significant benefits. However, they come with their share of risks, as demonstrated during unprecedented events like the COVID-19 pandemic. In this guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of dividends, how they work, and what they mean for investors.

Understanding Dividends

Dividends represent distributions made to shareholders from a company’s after-tax earnings. In Australia, they serve as a form of income for those who invest in ASX-listed stocks. It’s important to note that not all companies pay dividends, and it’s not mandatory for profitable companies to do so. However, Australian companies typically have a high dividend payout ratio, historically averaging around 65% of earnings.

Dividends are typically declared twice a year: interim dividends, announced around February for companies with a June 30 balance date, and final dividends, typically declared in August. These two dividends together make up the full-year dividend of a stock.

The Role of Dividends in Income Generation

Australian investors have long relied on dividends as a source of income, leveraging the benefits of the dividend imputation system. This system ensures that shareholders aren’t taxed twice on dividends, as they receive a rebate for the tax already paid by the company on distributed profits. These dividends are referred to as ‘franked’ and come with attached franking credits, also known as imputation credits.

It’s essential to recognise that dividends are not guaranteed and can fluctuate based on company performance. During challenging times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, companies may reduce or suspend their dividends without warning. Even stalwart dividend-paying stocks like the big four banks and Telstra have had occasions where dividends were cut.

Dividends and SMSFs

For Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSFs), dividends play a crucial role, especially in the accumulation phase where they’re building a retirement nest egg. SMSFs incur a 15% tax rate on earnings, which is lower than the general corporate tax rate. This allows SMSFs to benefit from franking credits, potentially offsetting or even refunding taxes paid on dividends.

In the pension phase, where SMSFs are paying regular income to members after retirement, dividends become even more valuable. With no tax on earnings, SMSFs in this phase receive a full rebate of franking credits, further enhancing their income.

Maximising Dividend Yields

Dividend yield, expressed as the ratio of the dividend payout to the share price, is a critical metric for investors. Understanding that yield fluctuates inversely with share prices is essential. Your eventual yield on a stock is determined not only by the quoted yield but also by your buying price and the dividends you ultimately receive.

Managing Dividend Income

Dividends are akin to the income earned from work, offering flexibility in how they’re used. Whether you choose to spend them, save them in traditional accounts, or reinvest them, the decision is yours to make. Consider opting into a dividend reinvestment plan to compound your returns over time, accumulating more shares that generate future dividends.

Dividends can be a vital income source for investors that require careful consideration and management. For personalised guidance tailored to your financial goals, consult your Altitude Adviser today! We specialise in helping Australian investors navigate the complexities of dividend investing and retirement planning. Contact us to learn how we can assist you in optimising your investment strategy and securing your financial future.

Altitude Financial Planning is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Altitude Financial Advisers Pty Ltd
ABN 95 617 419 959 
AFSL 496178

The information contained on this website is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances, financial needs or objectives. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of it and the relevant product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek the appropriate financial advice and read the relevant Product Disclosure Document.