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Interview with Grant Hackett from Generation Life – Investment Bonds

Talk Investment with Mark Wenzel speak’s to Grant Hackett, CEO of Generation Life about Investment Bonds.  Investment Bonds are a structure that provide significant flexibility in your financial planning.

Some of the advantage of Investment Bonds are:

  • Tax effective
  • Flexible wealth transfer vehicle
  • Ideal long term savings plans
  • Great strategy tool as a part of your financial plan

This is an insightful discussion with one of Australia’s great Olympians about an investment vehicle that can benefit you.  The uses of investment bonds are diverse and flexible in your long term financial planning.

Compound your wisdom!

Talk Investment with Mark Wenzel is a podcast presented by The Hopkins Group. Visit us online at thehopkinsgroup.com.au


Please note the following podcast and information discussed within it are general in nature and don’t take into account individual situations, needs or goals.

Please do your own research, speak with an adviser or other relevant professional who will be able to make a recommendation based on your specific circumstances.

This podcast shouldn’t be relied upon as advice – you will need to satisfy yourself through independent means that any decisions based on this material are appropriate.

Mark Wenzel is an Authorised Representative and John Hopkins Financial Services Pty Ltd is a Corporate Representative of WealthSure Financial Services Pty Ltd Level 1 190 Stirling Street PERTH WA 6000 ACN:130 288 578 AFSL: 326450

7 reasons why now’s a great time to get financial advice

COVID-19 has created a great deal of uncertainty within the community. Job losses, rental vacancies, and time to dwell on our woes is freezing some people from acting. These are understandable and natural reactions. Human beings dislike uncertainty, so our natural reaction is to retreat from decision making and protect what they have; but it doesn’t have to be this way.

People who have a financial adviser are likely to be less anxious about an unknown future and more focused on their ideal financial future. With this in mind, here are my top seven reasons why now is a great time to seek financial advice.

1. You have time

The limitation of activities (particularly in Melbourne), less time commuting to work and less driving the kids around, means that you have time to commit to seeing an adviser.

At The Hopkins Group, we are conducting financial advice meetings online. This makes it easy for you. There is no travel to and from our office, there is no car parking, and best of all no traffic! This reduces the time commitment to the meeting time with your adviser. When you’re done, you can go back to doing whatever you were doing at home.

2. You can plan for your future

Major disruptions like the coronavirus force us to think about the future we want to have. Maybe you are thinking of a career change, maybe you have rekindled the long lost dream of self-employment or you’ve decided that a sea or tree change is for you.

Lockdown has allowed busy human beings to slow down and reassess our lives. A financial adviser can help you make the right financial decisions to allow your desired future to become a reality.Riding to work rather than driving the car could save you at least $100 per week ($5,200 per annum), drinking coffee in the office could save you $25 per week ($1,300), bringing lunch from home could save $50 per week ($1,300) – that’s $7,800 savings over a year! These small amounts add up.
New habits can be established. We all have habits that we fall back on in life, but if you have been out of your normal routine for the past couple of months, your usual habits most likely have been broken. This could be everyday things like buying a coffee every morning on the way to work, buying lunch every day, gambling, going to the pub or driving to work.

New habits take 21 – 63 days to form, depending on your personality, so give it time; but lockdown is an opportunity to develop new habits and behaviours that might be more beneficial to your long-term financial position. For example, riding to work rather than driving the car could save you at least $100 per week ($5,200 per annum), drinking coffee in the office could save you $25 per week ($1,300), bringing lunch from home could save $50 per week ($1,300). These small amounts add up. If you were to change all these habits you have just saved $7,800 in the year. This money, when invested well, additional mortgage repayments made or used to pay off the credit card, saves you heaps of money over the long-term.

4. You are living on less

Because of the virus, many of us who are still working, who used to go out to dinner, travel overseas and spend money too easily are probably finding it easy to save money. If you change your behaviour, this can be an opportunity to make the changes stick. The break from the past is a chance to make it a permanent savings habit rather than a temporary one. Small amounts of saving add up over time, especially if you have the right advice and the savings are directed for a better financial future.

5. Markets are volatile

Getting your investment strategy right now will allow you to benefit from the winners in the new economy. Investments are not set and forget. The right asset allocation makes a massive difference to your returns over time. The right exposures within asset classes add to your returns. Speak to your adviser today to review your investments.

6. Mortgage rates are low

If you have not refinanced, reviewed, or reworked your mortgage for five years, now is a great time. The competition among lenders is fierce. They are offering cash rebates, low rates, and cheap fixed rates for quality borrowers. If you have equity in your home, a stable income and are willing to change lenders, now is a great time. Fixed rates are the lowest versus fixed rates I have seen in my 20 year career. In many cases, fixed rates are 60 – 70 basis points lower than variable. That said, fixing is not for everyone, so speak with a mortgage specialist (like Loreen Dyer from The Hopkins Group) first to determine if fixing your rate will benefit you.

7. Tax advantages

The government has many schemes to support the economy. These range from JobKeeper and JobSeeker, to first home buyer schemes, self employed asset write offs, claiming deductions for home office expenses during lockdown and the home renovations scheme. If you are not on top of these, you are likely to miss out on benefits you are entitled to. A full-service advice firm like The Hopkins Group will make sure you do not miss out!

Financial advice is always valuable, but especially so during high uncertainty. Invest the time to have an initial (online) appointment with an adviser from The Hopkins Group, while you have time. There is no obligation, and you might find a way to live your dream future.

A beginners guide to rooming houses

Rooming houses are increasingly becoming an attractive option among property investors, looking for a new way to grow their property portfolios and maximise their rental returns. In this blog, we break down the basics for a beginners guide to rooming houses.

What is a rooming house?

A rooming house is a building where one or more rooms is available for rent, and the total number of people who may occupy those rooms is four or more. In most rooming houses residents may also share bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and other common areas. In more modern rooming house arrangements, individual rooms will be set up as mini studios, to give residents a comfortable sized private space adjoining the shared facilities.

Often, separate rental agreements may exist for each of the residents in a rooming house, however this isn’t always the case. Sometimes rooming house rooms may be offered for short stays, or may be shared under a ‘shared room right’ agreement. This is more common in crisis accommodation rooming house set ups.

How does a rooming house differ from social housing?

While some social housing takes the form of rooming houses, not all rooming houses are not-for-profit, public owned, or community run.

Many are privately owned investments, with the intention of bringing in profitable rental returns.

Why would someone invest in a rooming house?

In 2015, there were 1,146 registered rooming houses in Victoria and as of 30 June 2020, there are now more than 1,356 registered. While these numbers seem low in the pool of traditional rental properties out on the market, they’re no less a significant property category, as they offer an affordable housing option for lower income earners, students, and even retirees, while still affording investors solid returns.

In a traditional rental property, rents are set for the property as a whole, and compete with other similar properties of the same size and location.

Rooming houses on the other hand, allow investors to set rents per room, which usually means you can maximise your rental potential for the property, collecting a higher rental return than a similar sized, traditional rental property would afford.

There’s also often the benefit of reduced vacancy in these properties. With more than one room available for rent, when someone moves out, you’re still collecting rents from other rooms meaning you’re not experiencing the same costs of vacancy you would be on a traditional rental.

Additionally, because rooming houses are often built on standard residential plots, your land costs are about the same as they would be investing in a typical house, but with the benefits of a higher rental yield. In some cases, rooming houses may also even be exempt from land tax (conditions apply, see the Victorian State Revenue Office’s webpage for more details).

What are some of the rules and regulations around managing a rooming house?

In Victoria, rooming house operators must comply with minimum standards set out in the Residential Tenancies (Rooming House Standards) Regulations 2012. These standards relate to privacy, security, safety and amenity in rooming houses. The minimum standards apply to a rooming house and its rooms, irrespective of whether the resident is on a rooming house agreement or individual tenancy agreement. More information on these standards can be found on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. For residents of a rooming house on an individual tenancy agreement, the laws governed by the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act 1997 will also apply.

Rooming house operators must also be registered, both with local councils and with the Business Licensing Authority (as per the rooming house operators licencing scheme established in the Rooming House Operators Act 2016). As a rooming house operator, you are essentially running a business, so there are fees associated with setting this up and registering as an operator. Each council also has their own requirements, so it’s best you do your research before investing in the construction/renovation of a rooming house project.

If you are looking to start a rooming house project from scratch, or invest in one that is already established, The Hopkins Group can recommend a number of contacts in this space who are well versed in the ins and outs of this type of investment. Please speak to us if this is something you are considering.

The Hopkins Group’s rooming house expertise

In addition to managing standard residential tenancies, The Hopkins Group has a dedicated team of rooming house experts on board to negotiate the challenges and compliance needs of managing multiple tenancies in a single dwelling.

Our specialised rooming house property management service encompasses all services included for our standard residential properties plus regular maintenance, record keeping of essential safety measures as required by the occupancy permit, and ongoing cleaning of common areas.

All this is done while adhering to the minimum standards as a rooming house operator.

Ready to talk rooming houses? Contact The Hopkins Group’s team today!

3 simple steps to tax time success

Like clockwork, tax time is here again, and by now your employer will have likely finalised your Income Statement to make it tax ready. With all the pieces lined up to get started, you might be thinking about getting a move on your return. But where do you begin?

Download your checklists

The Hopkins Group’s handy tax time checklists have been designed to help you collate all your documents, ready for your accountant to prepare your return. Click the links below to download your checklists now!

Individual Income Tax Return Checklist for FY 19/20

Rental Property Checklist

Vehicle Logbook Template

Know your deadlines

If you are completing your tax return yourself, you have until 31 October 2020 to file your 2019/20 tax return with the ATO.

But did you know, you can get an extension to that deadline?

If you complete your tax with a registered tax agent, like the accounting team at The Hopkins Group, you have until May 2021 to file the same return. This gives you that extra time to get everything together and work with an accountant to hopefully get the best result possible from your return.

All you need to do to get started is to contact one of our accountants to add your name to our tax agent’s list.

Speak to an accountant

Ready to lodge your return?

Request an appointment with one of our accountants to get started today, or send through your completed checklists to info@thehopkinsgroup.com.au and we’ll be in touch to discuss next steps.

Cancelling subscriptions in direct debit cleanse | Money Master Diaries

Mark Wenzel is trialling The Hopkins Group’s Money Master program to see if it can help him gain more control over his family’s cash-flow position. Mark’s goal is to free up some of his money to fund family experiences rather than spend them on things that don’t matter as much. He is documenting his progress and key insights in a regular blog series called the “Money Master Diaries”. This blog is the fourth in the series.

Over the past month or so of tracking my expenses with The Hopkins Group’s Money Master program, I’ve managed to save quite a bit of money by reviewing some of the big ticket items coming out of our account. I have been impressed with the progress made so far, but wanted to see if I could squeeze even more savings by reviewing some of the smaller expenses that have been coming out via regular direct debits.

Product and service providers love people signing up to direct debits because they know their cash flow and expect that many subscribers will keep paying regardless if they are using the service or not. And that’s where the danger lies for us as consumers – the set and forget nature that makes things more convenient can mean sometimes we’re paying for things we don’t really need.

We, as a family, have several direct debits set up. They have crept into our spending habits in recent years, so I already had an idea going in that this was an area we could find savings in.

The first area to focus on was pay television subscriptions; for us, that’s Netflix, Disney+ and Kayo (part of Herald Sun subscription). Netflix is the most used among the whole family, so we have decided to keep this. However, we decided to cancel our Disney+ subscription, to save $8.95 per month. While my daughter is disappointed with the decision, paying for a small number shows for one member of the family felt excessive.

While my daughter may be disappointed in the short term, hopefully we can reinvest the savings from cancelling our subscription to Disney+ into other more meaningful experiences.


We also have a newspaper subscription (which includes Kayo) at $22 per month. This allowed online access and the weekend newspapers. My wife and I both enjoy reading the newspaper, but we think we can live without it. To my mind, looking at the news website is habit you get into, but with many sources of news and information out there that you can access if you want to find out more about any topic, it’s an expense we can probably live without.

Next on the list was Audible. I have been a subscriber to this audio book provider for more than three years and it has allowed me to access one audio book a month for $16.95. I used to love it, but have grown less interested over time and find I can find the information I am looking for elsewhere. I enjoy accessing information audibly, but there are alternatives to audio books for learning such as podcasts, YouTube, webinars and company websites (I even present my own podcast focusing on investment management called Talk Investment with Mark Wenzel).

One of the patterns that was consistent with my Audible purchases was that I would buy books from people that I had heard on podcasts. If I went back and listened to the podcast again would the key messages from the book be conveyed in the podcast? I will forgo my subscription to test this out.

While these subscriptions have value in our lives, we’ve decided that we would try life without them to see if it will work for us. We may choose to re-subscribe to any of these subscriptions in the future if we want to, but in my opinion these are things and, once we get used to the alternatives, we will not miss. Time will tell.

The cancelling of these subscriptions, which I did today, will save us $47.90 per month or $574.80 per year.

I challenge you to review your subscriptions and assess if they are still relevant in your life. Are there alternatives? Can you find something else to do with your time that is more productive, more focused on what you enjoy and at a lesser cost?

This is the fourth entry in a series of articles I’m writing about saving money by reviewing and potentially changing behaviours using The Hopkins Group Money Master program. The savings I’ve reaped so far are:

  • Energy – $589
  • Banking & Coffee – $888 (Plus $2,860 for fixing my mortgage rate – this is a choice with trade-offs so not officially included in the total figure)
  • Health Insurance – $347.64
  • Subscriptions – $574.80

Which comes to a total savings to date of $2,399.44. When our decision to fix our home loan rate is included in the calculation, this figure tops $5,200 – that’s $100 per week of savings. I am really pleased and surprised by this.

Taking a critical look at what we spend money on, making some important decisions and taking the time to do a few phone calls has saved us a good amount of money – which brings me closer to focusing on the experiences that matter most to me and my family.

Do you think The Hopkins Group’s Money Master program can help you identify savings in your life? Speak to us about getting started today!

Testimonial – David & Virginia

Beware of scams online

The internet is a portal to boundless information, but unfortunately not all of the information out there is helpful or honest. Worse still, there are people on the internet who will deliberately try to prey on your trust, with the promise of an incredible deal.

For example, one of my clients was attracted to an advertisement featuring Dick Smith and Andrew Forest about their success in trading Bitcoin. The ad promised high returns and simplicity, to make money from trading the cryptocurrency. The use of successful people added to the credibility of the promotion, so my client gave their email address and phone number to access more information.

Later that day, an affable man from the company behind the advertisement rang my client telling them that they too could make money trading cryptocurrency. The man did not push for money on the first call. He explained what he does, how he does it, and why it is easier to make money trading cryptocurrencies than shares because there are less people trading and market movements are simpler to spot.

Over several phone calls the man from the Bitcoin trading company proved his credibility and asked my client to transfer $250 to show how well their computer trading can make money. Over several phone calls, they were told how well the computer trading program was going and how much money was made. The $250 had grown to $400 and it all sounded easy. My client was sceptical, so they asked for the money to be returned – and, it was. This was followed by more calls, including a call to speak with my client’s spouse, and a further request for more money to be sent.

My client obliged by sending the $400 that had been returned plus an additional $600 so the trader could make more money. The man on the end of the line explained that there was a better way than computer trading. He was a specialist trader and wanted my client to be one of his personal clients. Under this proposed arrangement, the man would trade cryptocurrency on my client’s behalf with 5% per month returns. The catch? To access this level of support, the minimum buy in was $50,000.

This where my client asked me to speak with the man to see if it is legitimate. I quickly told my client that this was a scam and that when they sent the larger amount of money, it would never be returned. I researched the scam online and sent them information about the scams and how they work.

This is a classic example of why scams are so effective. False advertisements draw you in with fake endorsement by celebrities. In this example, the person on the other end of the phone presented as knowledgeable, confident, likeable, and trustworthy. They started out by getting my client to agree to small actions, knowing that once small actions are agreed to, it is easier to get you to take bigger actions. They attempted to allay concerns by sending $400 back to show that they are legitimate. They were willing to speak to their spouse and their adviser to show credibility. Luckily, we intervened before it was too late for my client – but sadly, that’s not the case for everyone.

The ACCC recently released its Target Scams report for 2019, writing that a total of $634m reported as lost in the year, an increase of 34% over 2018. This includes all scams, such as romance and dating, and business email scams. Investment scams alone reportedly make $126m of this share, however the ACCC believes this number is significantly lower than the true amount lost.

The impact of scams is significant. Emotional distress, loss of self-confidence, lost time and energy in extricating yourself from the scam and coming to terms with the loss. Older Australians may also lose independence if family limit their access to money to protect them.

One of the ways to reduce the number of scams out there, and to prevent others from falling for the same mistake, is to tell people about your experience. This is the reason for writing this article.

The Hopkins Group aims to provide the best advice to grow your wealth. Often, this involves advising against actions that are likely to result in loss. One of the best ways we can grow your capital is avoid losing money. A permanent loss of money significantly damages your wealth. There are no magic tricks to get your money back or to boost your returns to compensate for your loss – but we can learn from mistakes and help others to avoid making them.

Scamwatch is a government website which has a range of information about scams and how to avoid them. They suggest the following to protect yourself.

  • Learn about clickbait and avoid engaging with it.
  • Do your own research and consult with independent experts before making investment decisions.
  • If a price seems too good to be true, check for hidden catches.

If you are tempted by an attractive investment email but are not sure of its legitimacy, please speak with your adviser at The Hopkins Group, undertake your own independent research into scams and assess the opportunity with an understanding how much you can lose, rather than how much you can make.

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