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A brief history of the Stock Exchange Benevolent Fund

Stock Exchange Tower in Threadneedle Street, site of the Stock Exchange until the 1990's

The Stock Exchange Benevolent Fund was founded on December 9th 1801 with the malodorous title of “The Society for the Relief of Decayed Members”. At that time, the definition of the word ‘decayed’ was ‘as the process of falling off from the thriving conditions’!

It was not until 1877 that the title was changed to The Stock Exchange Benevolent Fund. The first recorded payment to an annuitant was made on 26th March 1803 in the form of a Donation of £40 to Mr John Adey.

There has never been a compulsory levy on Members to subscribe to the fund and the only requirement for a beneficiary has always been that the applicant shall have been a Member of the Stock Exchange, or the dependant of a Member, and that the Member shall always have acted honourably whilst a Member of the ‘House’.

The Committee and officers of the fund have always served on an entirely voluntary basis and 30 Chairmen have presided over the meetings.

As early as 1804, the fund obtained exemption from tax on income through the offices of the Commissioners of Income Tax.

Collections by elected Stewards were formed in 1805 and continued until 1979. The only difference between the earlier Stewards and the more recent ones was that, as an incentive to collect more, a Steward in 1805 was allowed to keep 5% of the total monies he collected from his fellow Members!

A report of the fund in 1901

In April 1841, the fund suffered a grave misfortune when the Treasurer of the fund absconded with £4,000 Exchequer Bills and £440 in cash. This represented a considerable proportion of the fund’s assets. In order to bolster the fund, a dinner was held at the West India Dock tavern in 1841 to raise money for the fund for the Relief of Decayed Members. 23 Stewards acted as collectors and the fund ended up £1,465.15s.6d better off, thus partially alleviating the loss suffered by the departure overseas of the late Treasurer. The annual dinner continued, except in wartime, until the 1950’s. Over the years, the fund has naturally received many gifts and donations that have helped to increase its assets.

The fund is governed by its board of Trustees who agree with its fund managers as to how the fund’s money is invested. It is interesting to note the increase in value of the fund, in 1918 the market value of the fund was £166,587, by 1980 this had risen to £1,915,566. Grants to annuitants have also increased from £50,000 in 1941 to close to £1million annually.

After a long and undoubtedly beneficent history, the fund is well set to continue into the future. New individual membership ceased in 1994 but the fund still has the ability to help those past Members of the Stock Exchange and their dependants who are deemed by the Committee to be in need of help.

December 2015

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