The Church of England’s financial imbalance

May 26, 2023 by

by Ian Paul, Psephizo:

The Church Commissioners have published their investment result from 2022 along with their annual report for the year, and both can be found online here.

The investment results are quite remarkable. Although the headline return last year was only 5.0% last year (compared with 13.3% in 2021), which means a real-terms reduction in the value of their assets during a year when inflation averaged around 10%, this is an astonishing result when compared with investment funds overall. According to this report, the FTSE 100 index grew by less than 1%; the US stock market fell by 20%, and only 17% of the UK funds they tracked made any positive return at all. The Commissioners’ investment team have, once more, out-performed the investment market quite significantly. At a meeting last year, I asked (only half in jest) what I needed to do to pass my savings on to them so that they could invest them for me.

Where does that leave the Commissioners’ assets, and the contribution from those assets to support the ministry of the Church?

The short press announcement notes that the returns have averaged 10.2% over the last ten years, giving a net cumulative growth of 164%; over that time, UK inflation has been around 47%, so the assets have grown in real terms by 117%—more than doubled. Over the last 30 years, the average return has been 10.0%, giving a net cumulative growth of 1,645% (that is, a 16-fold increase, the result of the power of exponential growth) during a period of total inflation of just 100% (due to the long season of low inflation from 1993 under Labour). So in real terms the Commissioners’ assets have grown 15-fold—and they thus have a much more significant role in supporting the wider Church then a generation ago.

This fantastic success story raises two questions, one about the assets themselves, and the other about their use—questions that I explored previously at a similar time last year.

Read here


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