What Is a Yield Tilt Index Fund?

A yield tilt index fund is a type of fund that invests in stocks or securities that mirrors the holdings of a market index but contains a higher weighting towards higher-yielding investments. A yield tilt index fund can be a mutual fund, which is a basket of securities that are actively managed by a portfolio or fund manager.

A yield tilt index fund can also be an exchange traded fund (ETF), which merely mirrors an index of stocks.

Key Takeaways

  • A yield tilt index fund invests in stocks that mirror the holdings of an index but contain a higher weighting towards high yield investments.
  • A yield tilt index fund enhances the yield of a standard index fund by weighting its holdings towards stocks that offer higher dividend yields.
  • Since a yield tilt index fund uses a baseline benchmark index, the fund is diversified, reducing the risk of loss while boosting income.

How a Yield Tilt Index Fund Works

Typically, an index fund would contain all of the stocks of a particular stock index, such as the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (S&P 500). Investors can't buy an index per se, since it's merely a tracking mechanism containing a collection of stocks designed to provide investors with the overall trend for those stocks.

Instead, investors would need to buy a fund that contains all of those stocks within the index. For example, there are ETFs that contain all 500 of the stocks in the S&P 500. However, if investors want to own the index, while also increasing their return, they can invest in a tilt fund.

Tilted funds contain all of the stocks of a benchmark index but are enhanced with investments that tilt the fund in the direction of a specific investment strategy or financial goal. For example, many stocks pay dividends, which are usually cash payments paid to investors as a reward for owning a stock. A tilted fund might mirror an index but also contain more shares of the stocks that pay high dividends.

Yield Tilt Index Fund Weighting

A yield tilt index fund enhances the income of a standard index fund by weighting its holdings towards stocks that pay higher dividends. In other words, attractive dividend-paying stocks are given a greater portfolio weighting, making them represent more of the fund's portfolio than they otherwise would in the standard index. The fund's yield is “tilted” due to the heavier weighting in that direction.

In this way, the fund is tilted towards earning higher-than-normal dividend income, while also keeping with the overall investment strategy of owning the benchmark index.

Benefits of Yield Tilt Index Fund

A yield tilt index fund allows for the fund to be able to outperform the yield from the baseline fund. Also, many dividend-paying stocks are of well-established companies since they need to generate consistent earnings to keep up with paying quarterly dividends.

As a result, a fund that's tilted towards dividend-paying companies can also enhance the returns from the investments in the fund since it's overweighted with more profitable companies.

Since the investment strategy of a yield tilt index fund uses a baseline benchmark index, the fund is diversified, meaning the invested dollars are spread out over many companies. This diversification reduces the risk of loss if a few of the companies within the fund fall into financial difficulties. The other remaining companies can still outperform, which partially offsets the drag on the fund from the underperformers.

Since the fund is merely tilted towards dividend-paying stocks, the fund can continue to keep pace with the direction of the overall market, while boosting dividend income with little additional risk.

If a yield tilt index fund has the proper mix of investments, it can provide investors with an enhanced yield along with the safety that comes with investing in index funds.

Yield Tilt Index Funds and Tax Issues

The structure of a yield tilt index fund can offer some tax benefits for investors who are seeking a way to minimize the tax liability associated with their holdings. Dividend payments issued to shareholders can be subject to double taxation. This means that they are taxed once at the corporate level and then once again at the shareholder level. So the investor is essentially paying income taxes twice on the same single amount of income.

Proponents of this taxation structure see it as a way to ensure the wealthy are paying their fair share, and cannot get rich off their investment earnings without paying a sufficient amount of taxes in return. Opponents, on the other hand, contend that this dual-level taxation is unfair and imposes an additional penalty on successful investors.

Due to the effect of double taxation, some investors contend that the market must value the share prices of high-yield stocks at somewhat of a discount to other stocks, so as to provide an increased return on high-yield stocks in order to compensate for the negative tax effects. The theory is that an investor who is able to purchase a yield tilt index fund in a tax-sheltered investment account—such as a retirement account—might be able to outperform the index since they receive the supposed valuation benefit but are sheltered from taxes on the dividends they receive.

This strategy would be a potentially smart option for a sophisticated investor who understands the intricate details of this structure, and who is familiar with the tax regulations involved, or has a financial advisor who is well-versed in the tax code.