Article by R ∴ W ∴ Brother James Lawrence, Grand Treasurer
The financial markets have experienced significant growth in 2019 fully recovering from last year’s volatile market performance. As a result, our investments continue to perform well within reasonable guidelines. Current market conditions are unprecedented; as the market has continued perform well for almost a decade. It would be unwise to assume that the market can continue its current level of sustained growth indefinitely. In order to lessen the blow of any downturns, our assets are invested in a well-diversified portfolio in accordance with a disciplined strategic Investment Policy. This investment strategy along with prudent controls on spending and well planned per capita increases have resulted in real sustained growth to our endowment accounts to date, and will be our continued goal for the long term. It has been years since we have proposed an increase in the per capita. Our endowment has continued to grow despite many factors working against us. Inflation combined with a decade that saw a decline in membership in the thousands has created extreme financial pressures. Thankfully through the diligence of our Grand Line Officers’ frugal budgeting combined with creative fiscal policy and sound investment strategies, our endowment assets now stand larger than ever in our history.
It has just been over seven years since then Grand Treasurer R ∴ W ∴ Brother Daniel R. Hotchkiss toured all districts to explain the importance of a substantial increase to the per capita to make up for years of no adjustments. Although this was a painful endeavor at the time, we now know through hindsight that it was a necessary evil. A step that was required for us to return to a fiscal policy that would allow our assets to grow. We can now attest to the benefits of that sound analysis as it is delivering positive results. We are not anticipating drawing on the Endowment this year. This is a good outcome considering that the loss of membership over the past ten years is in the thousands. It is now time to be proactive and take the next step in protecting the financial health of our endowment. As a result, we will be working on a permanent solution to make sure our per capita keeps pace with inflation automatically while accommodating the impact of declining membership.
For this reason, the time has come to propose a constitutional amendment in order to create automatic small incremental increases in order to account for inflation. This will eliminate the harm that would be done by ignoring the need for increases for years and forcing huge increases crammed into a single year. All of these things are necessary to promote the financial health of our Grand Lodge and to help ensure accomplishing our main duty, which is to protect our financial resources in perpetuity.