Top earners at Wellcome Trust paid almost £8m each after investments boomed

The grant-maker recorded its best investment returns for 25 years and plans to increase charitable spending to £16bn over the next decade

The Wellcome Trust's London headquarters (Photograph: Wellcome)

Two members of the investment team at the Wellcome Trust received benefits worth almost £8m each last year as the charity recorded its best investment returns for 25 years.

The grant-maker’s latest accounts, for the year to the end of September 2021, show that one member of its in-house investment team received benefits, including salary, bonus, long-term incentive plans and allowances, of £7.9m over the course of the year, while another received a package worth £7.8m.

In total, seven members of the investment team received benefits worth more than £1.9m in 2020/21.

It came as the charity’s investment portfolio grew by a third allowing for inflation over the course of the year to be worth about £38bn – a rise of £9bn.

The charity, which spent £1.2bn over the course of the year on supporting science and solving urgent health problems, said the investment gains would allow it to increase spending on charitable activities to an expected total of about £16bn over the next 10 years. It has spent about £5bn over the past five years.

Remuneration for the charity’s senior investment team is linked to the long-term performance of its investments.

The two top earners – Nick Moakes, chief investment officer and also a managing partner, and Peter Pereira Gray, chief executive of the investments division and a managing partner – received benefits worth slightly more than £9m between them last year.

The charity has consistently said it is more effective to have its own in-house investment team than to pay outside managers to administer its huge portfolio.

It has achieved annualised returns of more than 15 per cent over the past 10 years.

The accounts show that the amount accrued in investment employees’ long-term incentive plans was £27.7m in 2020/21, up from £14m in the previous year.

They show that 513 employees in the Wellcome Group received remuneration worth £60,000 or more over the course of the year, up from 351 in the previous 12 months.

The charity said it had implemented a new pay structure, which resulted in some staff who were previously paid below market rate receiving a salary increase.

The figures also included termination payments relating to a “major redesign of the organisation”, which led to almost 100 voluntary redundancies and eight compulsory redundancies.

Group termination costs totalled £7.3m in 2020/21, the accounts say, up from £1.8m in the previous year.

“The implementation of the organisation design included redeployment and internal recruitment phases; ensuring that our own staff had the first opportunity to apply for roles,” the accounts say.

“Through this 25 per cent of staff in scope were able to make a career development move. Although this was not the primary reason for the redesign, we were pleased to offer so many staff these opportunities.”

Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome, received a pay package worth £515,216, up from £483,788 in the previous year.

Julia Gillard, chair of the Wellcome Trust, said: “The exceptional long-term performance of the investment portfolio has provided us with the means to increase spending commitments significantly at a time when the mission has never been more important.

“Our investment team deserve immense credit not only for their efforts this year but for their careful stewardship and long-term thinking over many years, which has put us in such a strong position today.

“The direct result of their hard work is that more money is being dedicated to science to help solve the world’s urgent health challenges.”

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