Yield explainer: The importance of income

Years of low interest rates have helped to stabilise the global economy following the financial crisis in 2008, but one of the effects has been to drive down the yields available in asset classes such as bonds and equities, leaving investors scrambling for income. 

24 June 2015

Investment Communications Team

Investment Communications Team

What is yield?

Yield is the income return on an investment. In its simplest form, if you pay money into a bank account the bank pays you interest on the cash.

How is yield calculated?

Yield is most often expressed in percentage terms based on the investment's cost, its current market value or its face value, which makes it easier to compare the attractiveness of assets.

For example, if you buy a share worth £10 and it pays a dividend of £1 then the yield is 10%.

What is the difference between yield and return?

Yield is usually paid in the form of interest or a dividend on a quarterly, half-yearly or annual basis and ignores the capital value of an investment.

Returns take into account the capital value of an asset as well as the dividend and interest payments.

Why has income become so important?

Interest rates in most developed countries are now at or near historic lows. That means interest earned on money paid into banks and cash ISAs or invested in money markets is negligible.

Traditional sources of supposedly "safe" income, such as US, UK and German bonds, have now become prohibitively expensive to buy, while higher-yielding bonds are often deemed too risky for a conservative investor. The result has left investors hunting for good affordable yield.

Where can investors find yield?

Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream as at 10/06/2015

Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream as at 10/06/2015

Why is equity income such an important source of yield?

Equity yield can be variable whereas bond yield is fixed. In an inflationary environment, the real value of your dividend payment from your bonds will diminish over time, whereas companies have the ability to increase dividend payments.

Over long periods of time the biggest part of total returns comes from yield, when dividends are reinvested.

Why can’t I just buy the asset with the highest yield?

Investors should treat high-yielding assets cautiously. Higher yield often means more risk.

The second part in this series will explore where yield opportunities lie within European and UK equity markets.

Investors should research their investment thoroughly and consult their financial adviser.

Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested.

Important Information: This communication is marketing material. The views and opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) on this page, and may not necessarily represent views expressed or reflected in other Schroders communications, strategies or funds. This material is intended to be for information purposes only and is not intended as promotional material in any respect. The material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. It is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Reliance should not be placed on the views and information in this document when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. The value of an investment can go down as well as up and is not guaranteed. All investments involve risks including the risk of possible loss of principal. Information herein is believed to be reliable but Schroders does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Some information quoted was obtained from external sources we consider to be reliable. No responsibility can be accepted for errors of fact obtained from third parties, and this data may change with market conditions. This does not exclude any duty or liability that Schroders has to its customers under any regulatory system. Regions/ sectors shown for illustrative purposes only and should not be viewed as a recommendation to buy/sell. The opinions in this material include some forecasted views. We believe we are basing our expectations and beliefs on reasonable assumptions within the bounds of what we currently know. However, there is no guarantee than any forecasts or opinions will be realised. These views and opinions may change.  To the extent that you are in North America, this content is issued by Schroder Investment Management North America Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Schroders plc and SEC registered adviser providing asset management products and services to clients in the US and Canada. For all other users, this content is issued by Schroder Investment Management Limited, 31 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7QA. Registered No. 1893220 England. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.