We use the returns from our investments to fund our work.
Over time, our careful investment decisions have meant our funds have grown. In the past decade, the portfolio has grown at an average annual rate of 12%.
This has enabled us to spend more on science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone. We’re now planning to spend £16bn over ten years to support new discoveries in science and health, and to help find solutions for three of the world’s greatest health challenges: climate change and health, infectious diseases and mental health.
Where our money comes from
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. Read more about our history.
Since then, Wellcome’s funding has come from a wide range of financial assets around the world, including:
- publicly listed stocks and shares
- private equity
- venture capital
- hedge funds and other investments.
Wellcome generally does not receive donations or government grants. We don’t raise money from the public.
More detail on our portfolio
Our annual report has more detailed information about our portfolio, as does our bondholder update presentation [PDF 1.24MB]. We also publish a list of the publicly listed stocks and shares that we hold directly.
Our investments approach
We aim to maximise returns to spend on our charitable activities, while keeping risk at an acceptable level. A key way we control risk is making sure our investments are spread over a wide variety of assets. We also carefully manage the level of cash flow from our investments to our charitable activities so that we are not forced to sell good assets at the wrong time.
Wellcome has existed since 1936, and we intend to be here to fund health science for a very long time to come – so we always think about the long term. Our investments team aim as a minimum to maintain the value of our investments in the long term.
Full details of our approach are available in our investment policy [PDF 297KB], which is overseen by the Board of Governors and sets out how we approach using different investment techniques, and what level of authority is needed for us to make transactions. It’s a key part of ensuring the good governance of our investments work.
Responsible investment and stewardship
We take stewardship of our assets very seriously and consider many factors before we invest. As well as a sound and sustainable business model, we must be confident that the companies and funds we invest in take their environmental, social and governance responsibilities seriously. We engage closely with them to ensure they are doing this, and we have previously sold positions where we felt a company was not meeting our expectations.
Read more about our approach to responsible investment and stewardship.
Driving down carbon emissions in our portfolio
We believe we have a responsibility and an opportunity as a major investor to accelerate decarbonisation in the businesses we invest in. Find out about our plan to drive down the carbon emissions of the businesses we invest in and bring our investment portfolio to net zero by 2050 at the latest.
Why we manage our own funds
Our investments are managed by a team of staff within Wellcome. In the last ten years, this team’s work has generated around £30bn for our mission.
We manage our investments ourselves because:
- it gives us more control and choice over what we invest in
- it saves us a lot of money compared to hiring external investment managers
- we have a skilled team who are able to achieve strong results.
The alternative would be to pay external companies to manage our investments for us. This would cost us several times more than managing our portfolio in-house does.
How pay is determined in investments
As with all staff at Wellcome, pay for our investments team is set by looking at relevant market benchmarks. We balance our need to be able to attract and retain outstanding investment professionals with our duty to use charitable funds carefully.
For senior staff in the investment team, performance-related long-term incentive plans make up the majority of their remuneration. These incentive plans tie the remuneration of the senior team very closely to the financial returns they deliver to fund Wellcome's work.
Our in-house investment team represent good value for Wellcome. The lower costs of managing our investments ourselves means we can spend more on health research.
We disclose remuneration in accordance with Charity Commission rules. You can find details in our annual reports.
Managing partner and chief investment officer
- Nick Moakes
- Lisha Patel
- Fabian Thehos
- Robert Coke
- Elaina Elzinga
- Geoffrey Love
- Robert Holl
We have clear governance and accountability arrangements for our investment work.
Our Board of Governors determines the broad structure of our investment arrangements.
A sub-committee of the Board of Governors, the Investment Committee sets our investment policy and supports and oversees our investment work.
It includes external investment experts to provide additional independent expertise and accountability.
Its membership is:
- Richard Gillingwater (Chair)
- Diana Noble
- Tracy Blackwell
- Stefan Dunatov
- Karen Chadwick
- Julia Gillard
- Martin Halusa
- Cressida Hogg
- Nick Moakes
- Girish Reddy
- John-Arne Røttingen
- Lisha Patel
- Fabian Thehos