Church Pension Fund Asset Value Declines by $500 Million in 2020

Episcopalian fund beats benchmarks over longer term, but misses targets.

The Church Pension Fund of the Episcopal Church saw its asset value decline by half a billion dollars in fiscal 2020, falling to $13 billion from $13.5 billion last year. It also beat its benchmark over the three-, five-, and 10-year time frames, however, the three- and five-year time frames had fallen short of their target return of 4.5% above inflation.

The fund reported three-, five-, and 10-year annualized returns of 5.2%, 5.3%, and 7.7%, respectively, ahead of its benchmark returns of 2.9%, 3.3%, and 5.5% over the same time periods. However, it was below the fund’s targets of 6.4% and 6.3%, respectively, over the past three and five years. The 10-year returns beat the investment goal of 6.2%. The fund did not report its one-year return for 2020.

Despite the decline in asset value, the fund said it “held up well during the 2020 fiscal year and remains financially strong” considering the economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The economic headwinds we face may be with us for months or even years to come,” said the fund’s annual report. “We have anticipated market corrections, measured the possible impact on the portfolio, and developed scenarios for responding, in the context of a long-term investment approach that remains consistent.”

The fund’s asset allocation is currently 26.9% in global equities, 22.9% in global bonds, 19% in specialized strategies, 18.2% in private equity, 9.9% in real estate, and 3.1% in private specialized strategies.

“Our investment strategy doesn’t really change as a result of events like the COVID pandemic, but rather our strategy is designed to be very long term,” said Church Pension Fund CIO Roger Sayler in a statement. “Our beneficiaries will be there for many, many years going forward in time, and so our investment strategy reflects that and doesn’t really change in result of shorter-term types of events.”

The fund’s annual report showed that CEO Mary Kate Wold and Sayler received total cash compensation of approximately $1.75 million and $1.58 million, respectively, up from $1.65 million and $1.3 million, respectively, last year.

Additionally, the fund said that, as of March 31, it had open investment commitments to limited partnerships of $2.3 billion, down from $2.7 billion last year, which are expected to be funded during future years. During April, the fund invested an additional $98.7 million in existing limited partnerships and made no new commitments to limited partnerships.

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