Society once again finished the year in a better financial position than it had
anticipated. For the second year
running, its attempt to spend some of its accumulated reserves was only
partially successful. Its income
was slightly above the forecast, at £26,028, but expenditure, at £28,478, was
some £3,000 below the budgeted figure. This
meant that less than half the anticipated £5,500 had to be taken from the
surplus income of previous years. Following
the decision of Lloyds TSB Bank no longer to pay interest on charity current
accounts, more funds have been transferred from the current account to the
interest-paying reserve account, taking it to £21,000 at the end of the year.
The Society’s overall fund
balance rose to £367,600, more than recovering the drop last year. The slight
improvement in the stock market since March 2003 was reflected in a gain of just
over £5,000 in the value of the Society’s investments, compared with last
year’s net loss of almost £3,000. Income
from investments rose again, by £2,000, though that was offset to some extent
by a reduction of £400 in interest from bank accounts.
The proportion of our funds invested in convertible and other fixed
interest securities has been reduced but remains substantial;
similarly, most of the equities are in cash-generating and other
defensive sectors. These measures
have helped to protect both our capital and income in the recent volatile times.
As the global economic situation allows, our team of investment managers at Carr
Sheppards Crosthwaite, led by Maria Neary, will adjust the portfolio to invest
in a wider spread of equities again. The
Council is most grateful to the team for their continuing excellent stewardship
of the Society’s investment portfolio.
At the AGM in December 2002,
members approved a resolution to increase the annual subscription to £15 from
October 2003. However, since the
Council has not needed to use the surplus income of previous years to the extent
foreseen at that time, it has decided to suspend the implementation of the
increase until October 2004. In the
meantime, it is undertaking a survey of members to ascertain their views on the
actual and potential benefits of membership.