We use the UKRF’s investments or ‘our assets’ to pay for members’ pensions and benefits (our liabilities). The value of our assets rise and fall over time, depending on how much is paid in and out, and investment performance.

Here’s what happened to our asset values during 2023…

In short:

We started the year with £27.2 billion

We ended the year with £24.5 billion (down 10%)

During the year…

We added
£0.14 billion*
in contributions from Barclays and members

We paid out
£1.19 billion
for members’ pensions and benefits

The value of our investments reduced by
£1.65 billion

*The strong surplus reported in our 2022 actuarial valuation supported a decision to pause Barclays' UKRF contributions for 12 months (starting from 1 February 2023). Also agreed was the commitment to review this decision every 12 months. We did this during our 2023 financial check and our funding position supports a continued pause for a further 12 months.

IMPORTANT: Please be assured that members’ benefits are unaffected by this decision.

Two sides to the story

Like our asset values, our liabilities fell over the same period, which is ‘Why down still means up’ for our funding level.

Want to dig into the detail?

More on the numbers

  Total 2023 £m Defined Benefit (DB) £m Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m Total 2022 £m
Balance at the beginning of the Fund year Total 2023 £m 27,213 Defined Benefit (DB) £m 25,360 Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m 1,853 Total 2022 £m 37,240

+ Money added in

Employer contributions (including salary sacrifice contributions) Total 2023 £m 137 Defined Benefit (DB) £m 90 Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m 47 Total 2022 £m 590
Member contributions Total 2023 £m 2 Defined Benefit (DB) £m 1 Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m 1 Total 2022 £m 2

- Money paid out

Benefits payable Total 2023 £m 940 Defined Benefit (DB) £m 919 Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m 21 Total 2022 £m 887
Payments to and on account of leavers Total 2023 £m 231 Defined Benefit (DB) £m 158 Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m 73 Total 2022 £m 536
Administration and provider costs Total 2023 £m 23 Defined Benefit (DB) £m 23 Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m Total 2022 £m 21
+/- Net investment returns (including investment expenses) Total 2023 £m (1,656) Defined Benefit (DB) £m (1,723) Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m 67 Total 2022 £m (9,175)
Transfers between sections Total 2023 £m Defined Benefit (DB) £m (12) Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m 12 Total 2022 £m
Balance at the end of the Fund year Total 2023 £m 24,502 Defined Benefit (DB) £m 22,616 Defined Contribution (DC) (including Afterwork) £m 1,886 Total 2022 £m 27,213

These numbers are from our full UKRF Annual Report 2023, which have been checked or ‘audited’ by KPMG LLP.

Our investment picture

For the UKRF’s defined benefits (for example in the 1964 Scheme or an Afterwork Credit Account).

Net return on investment was -£1.7 billion

This is for all the benefits we manage on behalf of members.

Investing on behalf of members with defined benefits is different to investing for defined contribution members. For starters, our investment strategy is focused on meeting our liabilities rather than, say, prioritising investment growth.

To help achieve this, we invest in assets whose values are expected to move in similar ways to our liabilities. This helps us keep our ‘funding level’ (the ratio of assets to liabilities) more stable – even when the market is challenging.

This year’s fall in asset values was matched by a similar drop in our liabilities, which means overall, the UKRF’s funding position (and the security of members’ benefits) remains strong. It also tells us that our investments are performing as expected.

How do we decide where to invest?

Our decisions are guided by our Statement of Investment Principles (SIP) which sets out our overall strategy and investment objectives, including a statement of the Trustee’s responsibilities, what we expect from our fund managers, and which risks we need to manage. Our Responsible Investment Policy is also integral to our investment choices and reflects our commitment to look at all of the things that could influence a fund’s performance, including environmental, social and governance factors. You can read about this approach in the dedicated Responsible Investment section of the website.

With the support of our advisers, we then regularly review these decisions and monitor the performance of our assets and fund managers in the context of current market conditions. Close monitoring means we’re better able to recognise and anticipate risks earlier and ensure that the robust management controls we’ve put in place are working as they should.

What happened to our investments in 2023?

During the year, ongoing higher rates of inflation, markets adapting to a higher-for-longer interest rate cycle and continued market volatility (such as the distress within the financial sector as a result of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse and the UBS takeover of Credit Suisse in the first quarter of 2023) and significant volatility in UK yields have continued to affect the asset values for lots of UK pension schemes, including ours.

However, the UKRF’s strong funding position means it’s well-positioned to withstand continued economic uncertainty.

As such, no significant changes were made to the UKRF's investments or long-term strategy in the year to September 2023. We’ll keep monitoring the UKRF’s portfolio, and adjust as needed, to ensure we remain aligned with our long-term strategy.

Where our DB assets were invested as at 30 September 20222023

As at September 2023 As at September 2022
High return assets As at September 202316% As at September 202218%
Contractual cashflow assets (CCA) As at September 202321% As at September 202227%
High quality credit As at September 202321% As at September 202220%
Cash & Liability-driven investments (LDI) As at September 202342% As at September 202235%

In 2023, compared to the previous year our investment in:

  • High return assets (including private equity and pooled hedge funds) reduced in value and represent a slightly lower proportion of assets.
  • Contractual cashflow assets (assets that provide fixed cashflow at certain times (like the portfolio of solar farms)) reduced in value, in part due to a sale of some assets, with the proceeds invested in Cash and LDI.
  • High quality credit (lower-risk assets (like long-term bonds) that have more predictable cash flows) represented a broadly similar proportion of assets.
  • Cash assets and LDIs (assets that align to our future liabilities) represented a slightly higher proportion of assets primarily due to the proceeds of the contractual cashflow assets realised during the year.

For the UKRF’s defined contribution benefits (including the Afterwork Investment Account) investments.

If you have defined contribution benefits, you can choose your own investments from a range of funds. to see where your defined contribution Investment Account is invested. Under the ‘Investment information’ tab you’ll also find factsheets for all of the funds available showing their latest performance.

Remember you’re saving for the long term.

Your defined contribution savings are built up over years (decades even) and during this time there will be economic ups and downs and periods of short-term market volatility. If you’ve seen a fall in the value of your defined contribution savings because of volatility, it’s important to maintain this long-term focus.

Markets do generally recover over time and making decisions during periods of high volatility, especially if you don’t need to, could have a negative impact in the long run. What is important is that you keep an eye on where you’re invested and make sure your choices are suited to your circumstances and retirement aims.

If you’re planning to retire, you should consider speaking with a financial adviser authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide pensions-related advice, to understand your options and ensure that your choices are right for your circumstances. Visit MoneyHelper if you need help finding one. You can also get free guidance through the government’s Pension Wise service.

Are you on track?

When you consider your retirement aims, you can figure out how much you may need to live the lifestyle you want by heading to Retirement Living Standards.

Your projected pension on your annual benefit statement (plus any other pensions and/or State Pensions) will help you work out what you’re on track to receive.

Who are our members?

As at 30 September 2023, we had around 208,000 members in 10 Sections. Overall we had around:

  • 15,000 members building future benefits (active members).
  • 74,000 members receiving an income (pensioners and dependants).
  • 119,000 members who are no longer building benefits and are expected to take their benefits in future (deferred members).

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