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Understanding Dividend Drag

There are different factors that can affect and alter the performance of an investor. One very important element is dividend drag. It is a term that is often looked past by investors. But understanding what is dividend drag is vital if you are investing in dividend-paying stocks, unit trusts and Exchange-Trade Units or ETFs. 

It basically indicates the impact that the declined [rice of a stock has on the yield. This one factor can majorly influence the returns from investments that are based on dividends. This article highlights all the crucial information about dividend drags for better understanding.

What is a dividend drag?

The term dividend drag describes the performance drawback an investment fund has as a result of delayed dividend reinvestment. It can take a week or longer for an ETF to return dividends to the market if it is unable to provide customers with a quick, automatic dividend reinvestment option. There is a lag between the distribution and reinvestment of dividends from an ETF or unit trust when they are not reinvested right away. 

As a result, this delay may cause the dividends to be reinvested at a greater price than they would have if they had been done sooner. So, it decreases the performance of the investment in a rising market.

What is the importance of structure in dividend drag?

One important factor in the event of dividend drag is the fund structure. In the case of ETFs, the assets are consolidated under the supervision of an intermediate business. It is usually an Authorised Participant (AP), like a broker-dealer or investment bank. Because of the requirement for the AP to conduct large-scale transactions, there is an inherent lag in settlement and assignment under this structure.

Large blocks of shares, referred to as creation units, are frequently handled. These units might occasionally contain 50,000 shares or more. The AP must handle transactions to and from the fund managers only once it has enough orders to satisfy these creation units. Dividend drag results from this requirement, which delays the reinvestment of dividends back into the market, frequently taking a week or longer.

How does dividend drag occur?

A number of things might cause dividend drag, including the market mood and the general state of the economy. Dividend drag happens when shareholders decide to reinvest their dividends themselves. In some cases, they also do this through brokers. The structure of unit investment trusts (UITs) delays dividend payments. 

Company-specific problems are another element that affects dividend drag. Poor financial performance, managerial issues, or changes in corporate strategy might adversely affect a company’s stock price, all of which can raise the dividend yield. Before evaluating high dividend yields, investors should thoroughly investigate the company’s fundamentals and outlook.

Increasing market

In an increasingly competitive market, the percentage of profits that are reinvested is steadily rising. If stockholders are not using automatic dividend reinvestment (DRI), it could take a week for the money to be reinvested. The share price will have increased over time. As a result, the same amount of money will purchase fewer shares than it would have if it had been reinvested right away.

Declining market

A declining market does not provide a dividend drag issue. Due to the declining price, the lag can enable you to purchase additional shares with the dividend. Stock prices typically fall during market downturns or periods of economic uncertainty, raising dividend yields. When assessing high dividend yields during these periods, investors should exercise caution because they can be the consequence of dividend drag rather than a desirable investment opportunity. 

Dividend drag and ETFs

Dividend drag can severely limit an ETF’s performance. The delay could cause reinvested dividends to buy shares at a greater price in a rising market, hindering the investment’s overall performance. This is an important consideration when investing in funds that don’t offer a quick and automated dividend reinvestment option, such as a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP). 

DRIPs lessen the effects of dividend drag by enabling investors to automatically reinvest their dividends back into the fund. However, the structure of an ETF affects the effectiveness of these programmes. One feature that is exclusive to UITs is dividend drag. Although management investment companies have higher operating costs than unit investment trusts, their mutual fund-like structure allows for greater flexibility. Certain mutual funds come with built-in DRIPs that, unlike some ETFs, don’t experience dividend drag because of their layout.

Dividend drag and taxation

Dividend tax drag refers to how taxes affect dividend income and how this can lower investors’ total returns. A percentage of the money received from dividends will be paid in taxes because dividend income is taxable. Dividend tax rates are based on an investor’s tax band; individuals with greater incomes are often subject to higher tax rates.

For instance, investors will only receive ₹80 after taxes for each share they own if a corporation pays a dividend of ₹ 100 per share and the dividend tax rate is 20%. Dividend tax drag is the term used to describe this decrease in net dividend income as a result of taxes.

Why is dividend drag relevant?

Even if some individuals would never again invest in unit investment trusts, they are still a well-liked investing option. Actually, some of the biggest ETFs that are traded right now are UITs. A lot of investors don’t give dividend drag any thought. Despite being legitimate and quantifiable, some investors believe that the overall effect of dividend drag is insignificant when compared to all the other considerations when assessing a fund, including exposure, index following, running expenses, and tax efficiency.

Dividend drag example

Suppose you invest in a business whose shares are valued at ₹ 500 each. For a total investment of ₹ 50,000, you buy 100 shares. The company declares a ₹ 10 dividend for each share.

Prior to the payment of dividends:

  • The share price of the stock is ₹ 500.
  • 100 shares are in total.
  • A total of ₹ 50,000 was invested.

Now, the stock price usually changes to reflect the dividend payment when it is made. Assume that following the dividend payment, the stock price decreases by the dividend amount or  ₹10.

Following Dividend Disbursement:

  • Share price of the stock: ₹ 490 rupees 
  • 100 shares are in total.
  • Total share value ₹ 49,000 rupees (490 * 100)

But you did receive a ₹ 10 dividend for each share:

Dividend income: 10*100 = ₹1000

As a result, even though you received a ₹1000 dividend income, the stock price decline following the dividend payment caused the total value of your investment to drop from 50,000 to 49,000. Dividend drag is the term used to describe the decrease in the value of your investment resulting from the dividend payment and subsequent stock price adjustment.


To sum up, dividend drag can affect an investor’s returns over time in a subtle but meaningful way. This phenomenon highlights the significance of meticulous preparation and monitoring in investment strategies. It is characterised by decreased investment performance as a result of things like dividend distributions, share price modifications, and processing delays. In order to maximise the performance of their portfolio and successfully meet their financial objectives, investors should be aware of dividend drag and take its effects into account.


What kinds of dividends are there?

Dividends come in seven varieties: cash, stock, property, scrip, bond, special, and liquidation.

How do dividends operate, and what does it mean? 

A corporation pays dividends to its stockholders as a way of sharing profits with them. They’re among the ways stock investments might yield a consistent return for investors.

How can I decide which dividends to reinvest?

Typically, investors can use their brokerage account to sign up for an automated dividend reinvestment programme.

Does dividend reinvestment make sense or not? 

Reinvesting dividends can be a smart method of building up your stake in a single fund or firm, particularly if you don’t require the dividend income or if it’s currently modest.

 Is dividend drag bad?

It’s not always the case that dividend drag hurts your portfolio. In a decreasing market, you might be able to purchase more shares with the dividend since the price is falling. However, in a growing market, it might lower output.

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