"We Can Never Learn Enough:" Q&A with Charlie Wapshott of Walsh & Co. March 2017

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After moving to Australia from the UK two years ago, Charlie Wapshott is still in awe of the Australian “culture, cuisine and comedy,” which he says aligns with both his values and personality. This month, he joins global fund management firm, Walsh & Company, as a key account manager and tells Industry Moves what drew him to the role. He also shares learnings from his thesis on the Cognitive Bias of Military Intelligence, which caught the attention of NATO, shares some advice around the importance of education, and reminisces about his childhood growing up in England.

Can you tell us a little about your new role with Walsh & Co.?

Walsh & Company is the funds management arm of the newly-formed Evans Dixon (formerly Evans & Partners and Dixon Advisory). The Walsh & Company Group is a specialist global fund manager co-founded in 2007 by Max Walsh. As of 31st December 2016, the Company has approximately $3 billion of investor assets under management across global equities, residential and commercial property, private equity, fixed income and sustainable and social investments. We provide investors with access to unique investment strategies that are not readily accessible to Australian investors and focus on building high quality, diversified portfolios.   As a Key Account Manager, my main role is overseeing business development and managing significant relationships within Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, although I am based in Melbourne. I will assist with capital raises, increasing awareness of our funds through existing and new relationships, aiding the investment committee with investor support and identifying key companies to partner with going forward.

What attracted you to this position? 

In today’s world, investors require a truly diverse portfolio and I think Walsh and Co’s product suit complements the contemporary investor's needs. They have a truly niche range of alternative products that give Australians the ability to access asset classes that they would otherwise not have exposure to. The company culture, reputation and senior management of the parent company was also appealing, as they’re highly regarded within the industry. I’m excited to be working alongside some well respected names, specifically the Head of Distribution, Adam Coughlan. Also, my internal values are linked to sustainability and renewability, and Walsh and Co’s solar infrastructure fund (New Energy Solar) seriously appeals to this side of me.

You’ve been in Australia now for nearly two years. How are you finding it and what initially sparked the move?

The last two years have honestly been two of the best in my life so far. The Australian culture, cuisine and comedy is in line with my common interests and personality, which has made the move so easy. I also love the sporting collective conscious of this gorgeous nation. However, the main reason the last couple of years have been so special is linked to the reason that I moved to Australia…I’m now engaged to the gorgeous Melbournian lady who I met when working in London – hence the move. I’m very lucky to have her by my side.

Can you tell us a little more about your Masters in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism?

This was a very interesting course. I wrote my thesis on Cognitive Bias of Military Intelligence. I started the course thinking that I would move into a Doctorate research position, however, over the following 12 months I realised that this career path was not meant for me. After speaking to my Dad, who is an Investment Manager, I completed the degree and then looked for an investment company to join, settling on a fintech business in London.

It looks as though you had an interest in the mental health space during the early stages of your career, having studied a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psychology. Can you tell us a little more about this?

The Psychology degree equipped me with invaluable skills to read statistics and interpret human cognition/behaviour. I managed to find some time in between study and playing rugby to volunteer for a very conscientious company based in Oxford. Completing this placement can be related to my desire to have a positive impact on the world in some way or another. It was a very testing position, as my main role was to help integrate people back into society in a safe and friendly manner. There were some fantastic but rather emotional stories from very strong people…. it was a real eye opener for me!

What has been the best piece of advice that you have received?

There are so many bits of good advice that I’ve been lucky enough to receive but the best would probably be to never get complacent with education/learning; whether it’s reading, completing short online courses, teaching yourself to code, learning a language, kite surfing or listening to informative podcasts, there is a whole world to find out about and we can never learn enough.

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

I grew up in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, a historical town where I was given a lot of freedom/responsibility from a very young age. The front door was always open to anyone who wanted a chat over a tea or wine. It was a very social town with most people playing sports and enjoying the lively pub scene (Bury has the smallest pub and one of the largest brewers in the UK).

Who has had the greatest influence on your life/career so far?

My dad, due to his deep investment knowledge, perseverance to teach me (given that I had no background in finance and he had to answer many of my early silly questions) and his enthusiasm/commitment towards sport, which he passed on to me and my brother. He also treats my mum like a saint, which means he has more patience than all of us.

What’s something that most people wouldn’t know about you?

My Masters thesis was published by NATO.

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