Wellcome is an independent foundation, which means all our work is funded from an investment portfolio that currently stands at £29.1 billion.
An in-house team of investment professionals manage Wellcome's portfolio. Their aim is to maximise returns over the long term to ensure that Wellcome continues to have sustainable resources for our charitable activities.
Our investment portfolio is a resource that makes our charitable work possible, rather than a way in which we seek to achieve our mission. Over the past decade, the portfolio has grown at an annual rate of 12%, which has enabled us to nearly double the amount we spend on our mission of improving health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive.
The original source of our funding was a bequest left by Sir Henry Wellcome on his death in 1936.
For the next 50 years, we were the sole owner of Wellcome Plc, the pharmaceutical company founded by Sir Henry. Dividends from the company funded the charitable grants we made for research. In 1986, we decided to diversify by listing and selling shares in the company, which was subsequently bought by the pharmaceutical company Glaxo in 1995.
Since then, Wellcome’s funding has come from a wide range of financial assets around the world:
Wellcome generally does not receive donations or government grants.
We control risk in the portfolio primarily by diversification of assets, and by careful management of the cash flow for our charitable activities so that we are not forced to sell good assets at the wrong time.
The majority of Wellcome’s assets are managed directly by our in-house investments team as well as third-party fund managers – a model that optimises returns over the long term.
We have clear internal governance with delegated authority supported and overseen by our Investment Committee.
We take stewardship of our assets very seriously and consider many factors before we invest. We do not invest in tobacco. Other than that, we do not exclude whole economic sectors, but as long-term investors with a time horizon measured in decades, the companies and funds in which we invest must have a strong social licence to operate as well as a sound and sustainable business model.
We engage closely with them so that we can be confident they take their environmental, social and governance responsibilities seriously. There have been instances where we have sold positions that in our view did not meet this test.
The team manages our endowment and oversees all investments.
The Board of Governors determines the broad structure of our asset management arrangements. The Investment Committee is a sub-committee of the Board of Governors with oversight and advisory responsibilities.