5 Instruments to Build Your Passive Income

Dividend or income investing has been gaining traction in recent years, particularly with the FIRE (i.e. Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement amongst the younger crowd to build up a passive income stream towards financial freedom. In this article, I highlight some of the main financial instruments you can deploy to build up a passive income stream for yourself.

Dividend Stocks

Dividend yielding stocks are a common tool for building passive income. In particular, companies in more stable or defensive industries tend to give out part of their operating profits in the form of dividends to reward shareholders. Dividend stocks tend to be less volatile than growth counters due to the dividend payout providing support for stock prices. As with all stock investing, a good knowledge of stock analysis will give you a better chance of picking out good dividend counters.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

REITs have been gaining popularity in recent years due to relatively low bond yields following the sub-prime crisis of 2008. REITs are exchange listed instruments which give you exposure to underlying investment properties and their rental income. REITs are mandated to payout 90% of their income to unitholders in exchange for tax transparency. Resulting from this, most REITs function well as income instruments given the bulk of their profits is distributed to unitholders.

Important to note REITs are not without its risks. The key risks being a de-valuation of their underlying assets or a drop in the dividend payout resulting from lower rental rates or higher financing costs. The scenarios mentioned can often result in a drop in REIT prices and their dividend payout to unitholders.

Dividend Investment Funds

If you like to be involved in the financial markets but have no interest or time to pick or analyse stocks, a good proxy can be dividend investment funds in the form of exchange traded funds or unit trusts. This put your funds in the hands of fund managers to pick out dividend stocks with dividends being paid out to unitholders. Similarly, there are exchange traded funds invested in basket of income instruments such as REITs with the dividends being paid out. For such diversified instruments, your risks is broadly market risks and volatility resulting from market fluctuations and industry wide risks.

Corporate and Retail Bonds

Bonds are traditional fixed income instruments used by accredited or institutional investors to generate income. One large limitation of corporate bonds to retail investors tend to be their unit size, where the minimum investment amount is $250,000 per tranche. In view of this, corporate bonds tends to be out of reach for most retail investors. Another potential pitfall tends to be concentration risks for retail investors, where a substantial portion of the investment portfolio is allocated to a few companies. In the event of a bond default, the portfolio may potentially take a significant hit.

While there are now more retail bonds being issued by companies in smaller unit sizes, most of these tends to be unrated where investors need to assess the default risks of the issuers. The Singapore Savings Bond (SSB) is another alternative for retail investors looking for a relatively safe instrument to park medium term funds.

Annuities and Retirement Plans

Annuities and retirement plans are generally lower risk instruments for generating income. Annuities pay out a certain guaranteed income for the lifetime of the life assured while retirement plans typically payout a monthly or annual income for a period of time. Both of these can be useful for retail investors to create a base income as part of a bigger portfolio to reduce overall portfolio volatility resulting from market fluctuations and uncertainties.

No doubt creating a passive income stream can help to diversify your income sources and reduce reliance on your employment or business income. If you like to build up a passive income stream but have no idea where to start, I hope the above give you some ideas. Do get in touch if you like a chat on creating your own passive income sources.