What is the difference between income and accumulation units?

Most funds are available in two unit types – income and accumulation. However, there are technically three possible outcomes from these unit types.

If you buy income units and choose to have your income paid out, the dividends generated are paid out directly into your account as cash.

If you buy income units and choose to have your income reinvested, or you buy accumulation units, the overall performance of the fund is exactly the same (although there are two different accountancy methods being applied.)

In the example of income units being reinvested, each dividend is received in the form of additional units being added to your holding.

In the example of accumulation units, you still receive exactly the same level of dividend. The income is absorbed into the value of your existing accumulation units but the number of units remains unchanged.

The effects of this can be seen in the disparity between the values of income and accumulation units in the same fund – the higher value of accumulation units is due to the historical dividends being absorbed into the value of the units. As there is no change to the holding (purely at underlying unit price level) you do not see this reinvestment of income in your transaction history (as you would if you had bought income units and chosen to have the income reinvested).

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