Two investment experts at the Wellcome Trust received benefits worth a total of more than £9m as the charity made investment gains of £3.3bn last year, latest figures show.
The grant-maker’s annual accounts, for the year to the end of September, show the highest-paid person in its investment team was awarded benefits, including salary, bonus, long-term incentive plans and allowances, of £4.6m, while the second-highest paid individual received £4.5m.
The two people involved are Peter Pereira Gray, chief executive of the investments division and a managing partner, and Nick Moakes, chief investment officer and also a managing partner.
The benefits awarded were considerably larger than in the previous year, when the two highest-paid people each received benefits worth just under £3.3m.
The charity said remuneration for its senior investment team was directly linked to the long-term performance of its investments, which had grown by more than £3bn during the course of the year.
This is despite the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global financial markets in the second half of the trust’s financial year. It is also a significant increase on the previous year, when its investments grew by almost £2bn.
“We have to attract and retain talented investors in a competitive market in order to keep funding health science around the world,” a spokesperson for the trust said.
Wellcome Trust has consistently said in previous years that it was more effective to have its own in-house investment team than to pay outside managers to administer its huge portfolio.
The report says that over the past decade, investment returns have averaged just under 10 per cent a year in real terms, enabling its annual charitable spend to approximately double.
Total funds held by the charity rose by £2.6bn to £27.8bn, while investment assets rose by a similar amount to £32.6bn over the course of the year.
The charity spent £1.1bn on its charitable purposes over the course of the year and said it planned to maintain the real level of charitable spending at current levels until at least 2022.
“Covid-19 has been an extraordinary challenge for everyone this year and has highlighted that the charitable mission of the Wellcome Trust has never been more important,” the accounts say.
“Wellcome has been at the heart of the global scientific response to the pandemic, generating, supporting, co-ordinating and funding vital research.”
The charity’s director, Jeremy Farrar, received benefits worth £484,000, down from £525,000 in the previous year.
Total group spending on pay, social security, pension and other benefits was up from £169.6m in 2018/19 to £184m last year.
This was due in part to a comprehensive pay review and benchmarking exercise, which resulted in some staff being paid more and a six per cent increase in headcount to an average of almost 2,000 people.
The total number of employees, excluding investment staff, who were paid £60,000 or more rose from 297 in 2018/19 to 351 last year.
The accounts show group termination payments were up from £1.1m in 2018/19 to £1.8m last year, while “other compensation” rose from £300,000 to £500,000 over the same period.
Baroness Manningham-Buller, chair of the Wellcome Trust, said: "I am delighted to report a year of exceptionally strong gains, despite a tumultuous period of extreme disruption caused by the Covid-19 virus. The pandemic has shown that Wellcome’s mission has never been more important.
“The strong long-term performance of the investment portfolio has provided Wellcome with the means to spend over £10bn on our charitable activities since I joined the board. We are grateful to the investment team for making this possible."