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The S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index “provides a way to screen for robust, growing companies that have historically provided strong total return with less volatility,” Hyman added.

Since its inception, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index has outperformed the S&P 500 Index by over 3 percentage points while experiencing lower volatility.

The higher performance and lower volatility is an attractive combination for many investors. On the survey of advisors, 46% of respondents said they look to risk-adjusted performance when investing in dividend strategies, followed by 27% looking for yield and anther 27% seeking absolute performance.

Kieran Kirwan, Director of Investment Strategy at ProShares, pointed out that the dividend aristocrats indexing methodology helped investors limit the drawdowns during the recent sell-off during the start of the year.

“There’s an elite group of companies that have continued to deliver positive earnings growth in a challenging earnings environment – the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, companies that have increased dividends every year for at least 25 consecutive years,” Kirwan said. “For the first quarter of 2016, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats delivered earnings growth of 2.4% – more than 9 percentage points greater than the broader market.”

SEE MORE: An Attractive, High-Quality Dividend ETF Strategy

Kirwan also pointed out that the dividend approach also produced significant outperformance in the small- and mid-cap categories as well.

Investors interested in a dividend growth small- and mid-cap ETF strategy can consider the ProShares Russell 2000 Dividend Growers ETF (NYSEArca: SMDV), which tracks the Russell 2000 Dividend Growth Index of small-cap firms with dividend increase streaks of at least a decade, and the ProShares S&P MidCap 400 Dividend Aristocrats ETF (NYSEArca: REGL), which tracks the S&P MidCap Dividend Aristocrats Index of mid-cap dividend paying companies that have raised payouts for 15 consecutive years.

Financial advisors who are interested in learning more about dividend growth strategies can watch the webcast here on demand.

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