In 2022, we achieved a total-fund return of 4.0% for the year net of costs. While this falls short of the annual real rate of return we target to keep the plan sustainable over the long term, it was an impressive outcome in a year when public markets were significantly down and many global investors experienced negative returns. In the year we exceeded our benchmark by 1.8%, and delivered an additional $4.4 billion of value add for members. We continue to secure consistent, stable returns over the longer term, generating annualized returns of 8.5% over 10 years and 9.5% since inception in 1990, with our investment activities adding value well above our benchmark over those periods.
We ended 2022 fully funded for the 10th straight year – a notable achievement for a defined benefit pension plan in the face of very challenging market conditions. Maintaining a fully funded status is a key measure of the plan’s long-term financial health and sustainability. Our preliminary funding surplus as at January 1, 2023 totaled $17.5 billion and our funding ratio equalled 106%.
As well as generating positive investment returns, our Member Services team delivered a high level of support for our members, with 93% of our members satisfied with the service that they received.
Executed our strategy
Our strategy is anchored across three key pillars: growth, culture and impact. We made real progress in each of these areas in 2022. The core financial goal of our plan is to reach $300 billion in net assets by 2030. We are well on our way to achieving it with $247.2 billion of net assets secured at the end of 2022, an increase of $5.6 billion from the year prior.
We have also made significant strides toward establishing and maintaining a better balance in our operations between North America, where we have traditionally been more active, and the rest of the world. Last year we opened two international offices: Mumbai, to unlock the many investment and partnership opportunities in India, and San Francisco, to be closer to the world’s preeminent hub for technology and innovation.
We were again able in 2022 to secure high-quality global assets across our investment departments in a competitive marketplace. Examples include SSEN Transmission, an electricity transmission network in the north of Scotland, Spark New Zealand’s mobile tower infrastructure assets, and GPA Global, an international manufacturer of custom-made and innovative packaging.
We also invested in our digital channels to improve our members’ experience when they communicate with us and launched a new self-service digital tool to help them get the information they need on a timely basis.
We are focusing our efforts also to build a supportive and learning culture within the plan, which we expect will allow us to deliver on our ambitious plans and to attract and retain high-quality global talent. Significant efforts went into furthering our unique employee value proposition both to reward and engage our team, and position us as an employer of choice in our key markets. These efforts included refinements to compensation and benefits, protecting our people’s wellbeing and investing in their professional development. In addition to several new senior leaders that chose to join our organization in 2022, I was pleased that we were able to promote our own talent into senior leadership roles. This included Charley Butler, who was appointed as Chief Pension Officer, and Romeo Leemrijse, who was appointed as Executive Managing Director, Equities.
Investing to make a mark
Our mission to deliver retirement security for our members necessitates thinking, investing, and acting to a long-term timeframe, as our obligations to our members extend decades into the future. We seek to invest to make a mark, driving performance with purpose across our activities. This extends to our investment and portfolio stewardship approach, and beyond.
We believe the leaders of the future will be the ones who actively advance solutions to the most pressing challenges of today and tomorrow. We believe pursuing this vision contributes to delivering the investment returns needed to keep pensions sustainable. As an active and engaged investor, we have an opportunity to play a role in addressing some of the biggest environmental and social challenges of today to deliver value over the long term. In that regard we are making significant efforts to help tackle climate change and aid the transition to a low-carbon economy. We have a multi-faceted strategy aiming to help our portfolio companies decarbonize, invest in green and transition assets, issue green bonds to support their funding and more. We continued to allocate capital into attractive green assets in 2022, including a commitment of up to US$1 billion into Corio Generation to develop up to 9GW of offshore wind worldwide. We also introduced a strategy to invest up to $5 billion in select emissions intensive assets with the specific goal of using our capital and expertise to help them decarbonize faster.
We also advanced our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion, which we see as central to unlocking the full potential of our plan and that of our investee companies. We were proud to be recognized as an EDGE Lead organization, the highest certification level offered by EDGE, the leading global assessment and business certification for gender and intersectional equity.
Beyond these important issues, we spent time this year further defining and formalizing our approach to pursuing and measuring the positive impact we can make through how we invest, how we operate, and how we give back.
As we look forward, there will be other headwinds that await us. This may make it more challenging to replicate the solid investment returns we have become accustomed to in the past decade. That said, I remain confident that we have the right strategy and talent to continue delivering on our pension promise to members, and keep the plan fully funded.
I would like to thank the entire Ontario Teachers’ team for the many accomplishments secured over the past year, and our board members for their support in those endeavours.
President and CEO