Investment trust dividend heroes: 20 trusts that have raised payouts for at least two decades

Four investment trusts have a record of over 50 consecutive years of dividend growth, find out which trusts make the dividend hero league table. 

One of main advantages in an investment trust's armoury over open-ended funds is the dividend reserves, which allows companies to set aside 15% of their annual income for tougher times. Unit trusts or Oeics do not have this luxury, which is why investment trusts have more impressive dividend track records, with 10 companies boasting a record of over 40 years of dividend growth.

The most recent list of investment trust 'Dividend Heroes' published annually (12 March 2019) by the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) shows that four trusts have achieved the feat of increasing dividends for over 50 years.

City of London Investment Trust, Bankers Investment Trust and Alliance Trust are the top three dividend growers: all have increased their payouts to shareholders for 52 consecutive years. They are closely followed by Caledonia Investments in fourth place, with 51 years of dividend growth.

But it is worth noting that a focus on sustainable dividend growth does not necessarily equate to a particularly high yield. BMO Global Smaller Companies, which is in fifth place in the table with 48 years of dividend growth, only yields 1.2%, for example.

Trusts’ dividend reserves are treated as ‘rainy day’ funds, allowing investment trust boards to top up the amount of income generated by the underlying assets in years when there has been a shortfall.

The financial crisis was a case in point, as during this time scores of UK-listed companies moved to either cut or suspend their dividends. The vast majority of UK equity income investment trusts, though, were able to weather the storm by dipping into their reserves in order to maintain or even increase payouts. On the whole, open-ended funds with an income remit cut their dividends during that time.

Information on the amount of money held in an investment trust’s revenue reserve account can be obtained through the Association of Investment Companies website: www.theaic.co.uk

Dividend heroes
Company Sector Number of consecutive years dividend increased
City of London UK equity income 52
Bankers Global 52
Alliance Trust Global 52
Caledonia Investments Global 51
BMO Global Smaller Companies Global 48
Foreign & Colonial Global 48
Brunner Global 47
JPMorgan Claverhouse UK equity income 46
Murray Income UK equity income 45
Witan Global 44
Scottish American Global equity income 39
Merchants Trust UK equity income 36
Scottish Mortgage Global 36
Scottish IT Global 35
Temple Bar UK equity income 35
Value & Income UK equity income 31
BMO Capital Income UK equity income 24
British & American UK equity income 23
Schroder Income Growth UK equity income 23
Invesco Income Growth UK equity income 21
Source: AIC using Morningstar

- This article was first published in March 2016, but was last updated on 12 March 2019. 

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