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Reflecting on a year that’s changed us all

Pre-2020, I never thought I’d live in a world where my daughter interrupting an online meeting with lipstick all over her face was just another day “in the office”. It’s strange to think these delightful (or at the time, mortifying) moments interrupting our workdays have become par for the course in so many of our daily realities.

Jumping back to February this year, I would never have imagined how dramatically things were about to change. At the time, I was travelling to South Australia for my cousin’s 40th, about to sit the FASEA exam before embarking on a 3-4-week holiday at the base of the Flinders Rangers.

Many of you who have met me, either personally or as a client, would know that being able to regularly drive long distances (be it to Adelaide, Sydney (THE GONG), or Queensland) is something I enjoy immensely.

Having travelled often in previous roles, driving has always been an escape. I’ve been known to use the drive to listen to podcasts, groove to a bit music, and catch up with clients that I have picked up all around the country, popping in to visit or chewing the fat on the phone. Little did I know that this trip to South Australia would be the last time I’d be able to do this for a while.

Having returned from my trip just one week prior to Melbourne’s first lock down and work from home arrangements commencing, I really had no idea what COVID even was, having zero exposure to it in SA at the time.

How quickly things change!

Living in Melbourne, I watched as we went from one of the world’s most liveable cities to having our freedom of movement limited in what has largely been described as among some of the toughest restrictions in the world. As someone with 95% of their family living in NSW and a love of driving the open road, it was a tough pill to swallow.

The cosmic shift COVID threw our way also completely unravelled the way I had always been used to working. The worlds of home and work, while admittedly had become increasingly blended pre-COVID thanks to technology, have since completely collided.

Now, having set myself up with a home office at the front of the house that I’ve worked out of almost exclusively since March, with two young kids at home – I’ve discovered a new-found appreciation for all the parents who worked from home on regular basis pre-pandemic and learnt how truly mischievous my children can be.

“Zooming” or attending Teams meetings from home with all its various interruptions, has become part of a new collective experience.

The traditional rules of professionalism were thrown out the window the day my soon to be five-year-old, not quite old enough to know not to walk into my office during business hours, decided it was her time with “daddy” – meetings be damned.

Although, when meeting a new client, the general rule remains that you want to present well and leave a good impression (with perhaps with a little more leeway when it comes to an iso beard and a head of hair in desperate need of a cut, haha).

Image: Shane is in his home office wearing a jacket. His hair has grown longer than normal and his beard is starting to become fuller.  Image: Shane is showing two thumbs up whilst smiling. He is in a dining area at home, wearing a white t-shirt. He has longer hair and a full beard.  Image: Shane wearing a pink bee-keeping netted hat, presenting a thumbs up sign whilst smiling. Shane is fully bearded and wears a black t-shirt.

Images: Shane’s lockdown looks

I thought I was maintaining this rule nicely too, until my daughter walked in with her face completely painted in red lipstick, and in full camera view of the potential clients I had just met. Makes you wonder why make-up is so often kept within kids reach!

However, if it wasn’t the lipstick war paint that taught me a valuable lesson – perhaps it was a bowl of icing that did the trick?

With the make-up situation sorted with no repeat, soon came the raiding of the fridge. Having baked a cake for our neighbour’s daughter’s fifth birthday, there was a large amount of icing left over. Why the excess wasn’t thrown away, is a mystery we’ll never know.

In our house, the little miss can sniff out sugar like it’s her life’s mission – so you can imagine what happened next. You guessed it! In she walks in with bright blue icing all over her face and during yet another video call.

When it’s not lipstick or icing, it’s a meeting being thrown off course by requests to dress dolls, braid hair, paint nails, feed hungry mouths, or simply have a play. Sticker books have been emptied all over the walls, stamp pads have painted the carpets, and the pantry has been raided of all junk food; the concept of sitting quietly in a room with four walls and barely leaving them is clearly a foreign concept to children.

After a few weeks settling into “daddy day care” I soon learnt to check-in on the kids a little more often than I was. And while I’ve now got the handling of these meeting incursions down to an art, many may be thinking (with a laugh and a smirk) that perhaps I’m in the wrong profession and should be a fashion designer, hairdresser, artist or professional clean-up crew instead!

With time, the kids have also adapted.

My daughter has now taken to accepting parcel deliveries at our door, telling the postie when I’m on a call and cannot be disturbed. Although let’s face it, kids will always be kids – I swear I hear them whispering at the door waiting until I’m on a call to cause as much chaos as possible.

Although it’s been a tough year, I’m grateful for some of the experiences we’ve gained along the way. The lessons we’ve learnt, the time spent with family, and being able to look back and laugh at some of the silly moments (now that we’re starting to find our feet again), are all memories I never want to forget.

I’m also grateful for the support of all our clients; on behalf of The Hopkins Group I am proud of what we have all achieved together and the level of support and compassion we’ve witnessed in our community.

Thank you for being patient, for your laughter and understanding. We all look forward to the next time we can sit down in person! Hopefully, that day isn’t too far away.




Interview with Alison Savas from Antipodes Listed Investment Company

Talk Investment with Mark Wenzel speak to Alison Savas from Antipodes Listed Investment Company (ASX APL).

Antipodes has struggled for both investment returns and with a large discount to net tangible assets. We speak about the impact on the investment team, commitment to their investment beliefs and why it is important to stay true even when things are not going your way.

After we address the issues APL we focus on they are going now to close the discount, by introducing a revolutionary Conditional Tender Offer, maintaining their focus on buying growth companies at reasonable prices and shorting companies they analyse as being overpriced.

We peer into the future with their assessment of what may tip the balance back toward value from growth companies (it might not be far away…), where they see companies with growth that are not over priced and which themes will drive future returns.

This is a great podcast for anyone seeking to understand the impact of short term underperformance on investment teams, why it is so important to maintain commitment to your investment beliefs and how to buy growth companies at reasonable prices.

Compound your wisdom!


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


Staying connected while working from home

The first few months of the working from home set up required a lot of adjustment.

Ever since we started working from home back in March, things have been different. Gone are the chances to bond like we used to; we can’t take photos to capture good memories together or engage in small talk during our break times, all in the same room.

So, how do we keep the team connection if we don’t see each other in person anymore? It’s really like we have been thrown into a long-distance relationship. However, with the use of technology, we have still been able to bond and catch up virtually.

Every day, we have a 15-minute huddle every day to share our wins, focus, and concerns. We also do Friday virtual games/activity via Zoom/Teams. It’s a fun way to stay connected and everyone is very engaged in sharing their ideas on how to execute our virtual activities. We Google virtual games/activities ideas and every game there is a winner, so of course there should be a prize! Each of us will contribute to buy food and milk tea for the winner and have it delivered to the winner’s address.

Even though it’s been a hard year, it doesn’t mean that our happy days are gone.

We continue to celebrate our wins (may it be big or small), such as welcoming new team members, receiving positive feedback from a client, work anniversaries, and other occasions such as the birthday of a team member. We still celebrate virtually by buying our food and then we video call and do a team photo on the screen.

Lastly, we have remained positive and look forward to the day that we can finally get together again in person. We are planning to have a big get-together – we’ve even set up a savings account and agreed to contribute to it every payday, to spend when the big day comes.

How have you found the transition to working from home full-time? What strategies do you have in place to stay connected with your friends, family and colleagues?

If there’s one thing we’ve noticed, it’s that working from home often frees up more time to catch up on some of the “life admin” things we usually don’t prioritise … like speaking to our team about your financial future.

As Australia starts to re-open, now is a good time to put a strategy in place. Whether it’s reviewing your home loan while interest rates are low, or investing some of that extra cash you might have been able to save not commuting to work or buying coffee, The Hopkins Group is here to help you build a roadmap to success. Speak to us today.




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