Uncensored Money Season Five:The Great Debate: Property vs Shares with Mel and Lawsie

Melissa Browne: Ex-Accountant, Ex-Financial Advisor, Ex-Working Till I Drop, Now Serial Entrepreneur & Author, Financial Wellness Advocate, Living a Life by Design | 02/06/2024


Show Notes

Last week we talked about whether investing in the property market was still worth it, using a case study to break down the numbers on whether it was still worth it. This week, we’re spinning things and looking at property, vs shares.

In this episode of Uncensored Money, Mel and Lawsie dive deep into the great debate of what’s a better investment. Laying down all the pros and cons (some that you know, some that you won’t), they explore what really is the better investment. Hint, the answer may be, it depends.

Books and resources mentioned in this episode

If you're on insta, come play over at @MelBrowne.Money and make sure you’re signed up to Mel's Money Musings for more tips, tricks and ideas on how to best work with your money.

Finally, if you love this episode please make sure you subscribe and leave us a review.


Mel: Hey everyone. I'm Mel Browne. I'm an ex-accountant and ex-financial advisor, so I have the theory, but I also have the life experience. I'm now financially independent in my own right after coming back from less than nothing in my early thirties. I want this podcast to be like a chat with your girlfriends about money. My aim is to help you discover why you're behaving the way you are with money, to suggest new ways you might behave that are a better fit for you, and to increase your financial literacy and financial confidence. I hope it inspires challenges, educates and empowers you with how you do money. So let's get into it. Welcome to Uncensored Money.

Mel: Last time in the podcast we talked about property and asked the question, is it still worth it? And we said that next week we were going to talk about property versus shares. So Lawsie, guess what we're talking about today?

Lawsie: No really

Mel: In a version of, but you said we are talking about property versus share.

Lawsie: I like it when we stick to what we say we're doing

Mel: Exactly. Today we are going to do exactly that. And what I want to do is run through the case for and against both property and shares. Chances are you already know and all can list all of the reasons for property or all of the reasons against shares. But we wanna share both so that you are perhaps your position that you currently hold is challenged. Because what we want, if you've been listening to us before is we want you to understand that when it comes to investing it's about diversification. It's not just being comfortable with what you've always invested in but making sure you've got that beautiful basket where you might have some bonds, some cash, some property and some shares. Without further ado, let's dive into it. So Lawsie, let's start with property seeing is that certainly in Australia, that's the one that people are far more familiar with and when it comes to for, I reckon anyone listening could probably list off all the things we're gonna talk about. But let's do it anyway. Oh,

Lawsie: We will provide <laugh>. Well I think the first thing is obviously that it's tangible. It's something you can drive past it, you can touch it, you can see that it still exists. It could be a natural disaster go through. You can still go and see if that property still exists. So it's this thing that we go, we know if it's there, if it's not.

Mel: We understand it.

Lawsie: Yeah. And we absolutely do generally understand it because most of us have lived in a property and even if you are someone that has rented or if you've bought or if your parents had or if your parents had an investment property, like there's just that comfortability around it as well because it's just such an integral part of like we all need shelter, we'll need a roof over our head in whatever. Doesn't have to be the bougie ist roof <laugh> over your head. It could be a little lean to shelter but we all need some form of shelter because of that is just something that we naturally understand. But the big thing, I guess that, and one of the reasons that people are generally more comfortable when it comes to investing and looking at property is because it is that physical thing that you can see you can drive past. I know for me personally, it was definitely the first investment that I did. 'cause I, there was, there was absolutely the comfortable in going, oh this is just what you do. Particularly in Australia, I think there's that rite of passage almost that it's like first you buy a home and then you buy an investment property. And definitely I followed down that road. I'm glad it's being challenged now, but because of that. So I think that just shows how comfortable, particularly as Australians we are with it.

Mel: Yeah and I think we don't talk much about money at home, but if we're gonna talk about something, we would talk about buying a house potentially. Like that's just an accepted norm, certainly in Australia. But in Australia I think historically it's performed well as well. Certainly not as well as shares. Whether I look at core data core re core data research, which would have it at 6.8% over the last 30 years or Vanguard for their research had it at 7.3. But it's sitting at about that 7% mark, which isn't a bad return for your investment. But also it doesn't have the volatility of shares because it's hard. And that would be an against when it's expensive to sell. We are not going and listing them and partnering with them every single day. If the herd is frightened <laugh>, everyone's not rushing to sell their property and we're not because it's a cumbersome thing, it's gonna take you at least a few months to list it and settle et cetera. So because it's not an easy thing to part with, that's one of the reasons why we feel comfortable with it 'cause it's not the rollercoaster ride a volatility that we'll have with shares.

Lawsie: Yeah, and I think too, I love the stats for how property's gone. I think people anecdotally feel like it's gone better than that. Like how many times I agree do you hear people go, oh property doubles every seven years and there's Uhhuh <affirmative>, you know? And even if we look at property really in the last few years, like we all go, oh wow, so many places had a huge jump in Covid and all those things. But it is remembering that you do need to look at it over the long term, which is where your stats obviously kick in and not just the last four or five years. Yeah. Because of that. And I just think there's been this real story of it that property's gotta be in property. It's all of those other things that it's really interesting. Statistically it has performed well but anecdotally I think it's performed much better <laugh> if you listen to what everyone is sort of saying around you. Which again is why I think that people are a bit more pro property because they've listened to all of those stories and not necessarily looked at the stats to confirm that for themselves.

Mel: It's interesting you say that because if I think of my own home in the Blue Mountains, it definitely for the first 10 years of us owning it, it's stagnated. It really didn't move for 10 years as you just said. That is not the story that people tell themselves when it comes to property. And I have absolutely have had that 7.3% growth and then some, but it happened in the last seven years. It did not happen in the first 10. Yeah, it's not linear. Even though as you said people think it is and I've had clients swear to me, oh no, no, no. Every seven years it's gonna double like, ooh really?

Lawsie: If it was, we'd all be doing it. <Laugh>. Mm-Hmm

Mel: <Affirmative>. Exactly. The final four Lawdog

Lawsie: Is I think there's more ways to buy property now. So I actually think that that's a real pro for property is you don't just have to go and buy whatever standard, three bedroom, two bathroom brick home on a quarter acre block like you can buy–

Mel: Most people just can't afford that <laugh> <laugh>.

Lawsie: It doesn't even have to be that it's gotta be an apartment or anything like that. Like there's so many different ways that you can still be involved in property now compared to years gone by and we could look at things like listed real estate investment trusts and things like that or other investment opportunities and apps and things that have since come into play.

Mel: BrickX existed a number of years ago where you could buy individual bricks in a property. Like there's so many ways,

Lawsie: Yes you still can have exposure to it as an investment, but it doesn't have to be that thing where you feel like all of your eggs are, all your investing eggs are sitting in one investing basket. There is other ways that you can have exposure to property. So I think that's a big four for property as well. Yeah.

Mel: And another one that's not on our list, so what I'll just speak to really quickly is a for is the leverage. So we often think of the debt that you need as a negative thing, but that leverage means that when that property goes up by 7.3%, it's not just your deposit, it's going up, it's the whole value of it going up. When we are thinking about come to shares, fewer people are gonna borrow to invest in shares so they don't have that same leverage. So that needing to borrow to buy property can be seen as a negative but also the leverage you're potentially getting it. And by leverage I mean instead of your deposit a hundred thousand growing by 7%, it's your property value of say a million growing by 7% that really is the amount

Lawsie: That capital growth.

Mel: Yeah.

Lawsie: Yeah.

Mel: But there are some against, these are the things that we aren't talking about usually when it comes to property. The first is that it's expensive to buy and sell like so expensive. I know Tony and I, my husband were looking at downsizing recently, of course we're that age <laugh>. No, we're in the like it's like a lot of people we're in a large house where we're looking at going, there's two of us, this is really silly, I won't stay there by myself. And he travels a lot. So I'm like does this just make sense to even own this large house? When we looked at the cost of downsizing 'cause we wanted to stay in the area that we live and we wanted it to still be very private, we really weren't gonna walk away with a lot of money from the commission that we would pay to real estate agents to the stamp duty we would sell on the other side to the cost of moving to the cost of fixing up our existing house to sell to potentially doing a little bit of renovating the one to move into really it it was an expensive exercise and really we both decided it wasn't worth it.

Mel: It is really expensive to buy and sell and that is a huge detraction when it comes to property.

Lawsie: Yeah. Oh absolutely. And I think related to that as well is it takes longer to buy and sell. Like property isn't as liquid to use the financey term

Mel: The finance term,

Lawsie: Unlike shares for anyone that's familiar with shares, you can buy and sell shares at the click of a button instantaneously

Mel: And the money can be your bank account in five days time. Yeah. Like three days time

Lawsie: So quick. Whereas when we are looking at property, it takes, I mean there's that process like you said of getting a property ready to actually sell. There's finding the agent, there's then having all of the open homes and everything to get someone through a property to sell it. And even if you have bought a property, you've got a settlement time of however many weeks have been negotiated before you can move into that property or that you own it and you can have tenants moving in if it wasn't already an existing investment property that had tenants in it. Like there's just such a big time piece with it and definitely not as instantaneous as buying and selling for shares. So that's definitely sort of a draw and against or a drawback with property when compared with shares.

Mel: And I think it's one that we don't think enough about. So for example, if you've decided to own a property in your self-managed super fund, so in where you hold your retirement funds and if that's the thing that's making up everything that you have in there, if for any reason you didn't have a tenant in there, suddenly you don't have retirement money's to draw upon and you would have to sell that property. There's problems with it not being

Lawsie: If you don't have any other cash,

Mel: If you don't have any other cash. But also my ex-brother-in-law got a brain tumor. They're looking at their assets at the moment and part of their issue was there's not a lot of liquidity there because like most Australians, they love property then it's that when you need cash you don't necessarily have access to it, which is problematic. So not being liquid is not a problem as long as that's why at the very beginning we said that really diverse basket's important. 'cause It's not a problem if you have liquid assets like shares or cash or bonds that you could access. But if all you had was property this against would be massive.

Lawsie: Definitely

Mel: The next one is a big one. So it's wages not keeping up with growth. So if we compared, when I was looking at, when I bought property when I was 21, I could only afford to buy something that was a hundred thousand on my teeny tiny wage of $12,000 in my then husband's wage, which was an apprentice mechanic wage. And I think interest rates were like 12% or something horrific. But our wages were still probably times five what the property was. Whereas now it's so much more than that. And yes, interest rates are so much lower, but the times that you need of that wage to equal the value of the property, it's just exponentially more. And that's where wages are not keeping up with growth. That's where the question has to be asked is, is that sustainable? 'cause There has to come a point where we simply will not be able to afford to purchase properties 'cause we won't have the wage.

Mel: That will mean the service abilities there for the loan that we need for that property. That's not gonna be the same for shares because with shares it's supply and demand with shares you don't have that constraint around wages in order to service a loan for that particular share. So therefore it's not gonna have the same constraints against it that property has. So I actually see, my personal belief is that the money that people made from properties that are boomers where they made extraordinary amounts of money from properties where it was buy 10 properties and retire a multimillionaire. I don't believe that you can do that. That most people can do that today. And that's where I think some things are being sold when it comes to property that is simply unrealistic. Could you still have a couple of investment properties? Sure. But you're not gonna be able to have in service, especially the average person, the properties that say my boomer parents might have had in their day.

Lawsie: Yeah, heard it here first.

Mel: Exactly.

Mel: Mel's , thoughts and theories. <Laugh> <laugh>.

Mel: Well that's what a lot of economists are talking about too that and it's that thing around what got us here won't get us there. Yeah. That's why we need to start to have an appreciation and appetite for other types of investments in order to make sure that we can fund our wealth as well.

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Lawsie: And I think tying into that, you are sort of continuing on from that a little bit too is the boomers, if they could have 10 properties, that's great. That is giving you a whole lot of diversification. Yeah. But again, with property, when we are looking at this, if we're going, all you can afford shouldn't say all, but if you're in a position that you can afford an investment property, but all of your spare dollars aside from your living expenses are going to that one property, you don't have the diversification as opposed to it's so much easier to diversify in shares. I mean you can go and buy an exchange traded fund and suddenly have access to 300 companies if you like. There is sort of that instant diversification there. And again for those that were in a position to be able to buy five, 10 properties, you could have one in every state or whatever like that naturally was building diversification. Whereas now I would say a big against the property is just with that diversification piece that if you've only got only inverted commas one property and that's your only investment, then that potentially could be a problem. Particularly if with everything else like what you just said, property doesn't continue to grow up the same way that it has because of these other limiting forces and factors, then your overall, your investments aren't gonna be going up as much if you're tied to one property

Mel: And against as well. It's a long-term investment because of all those reasons it's expensive to buy, it's not liquid et cetera. It's a long-term investment that's not necessarily problematic, it's just being aware of that. I mean, shares are also a long-term investment. So you're gonna hear that against as well. But yeah, it is a long-term investment. Having said that, we both Lawsie I have investment properties, certainly we talked last week that I'm intending to add another one to my portfolio over the next decade.

Lawsie: Lawsie is not

Mel: <Laugh>, Lawsie is not. But just because we're talking for and against doesn't mean that we are anti, we are just trying to educate you around thinking about the pros and cons of something rather than just running blindly into it 'cause everyone else is doing it or that's because that's what you're comfortable or you know. So let's talk about shares. 'cause This might be the one again that I think will be the reverse of property. It's the for that perhaps isn't as well known or comfortable, but the against will be like, oh yeah, yeah I can, yeah, we can

Lawsie: List all the reasons why we shouldn't invest in shares. <Laugh>

Mel: In that case, let's start with against because I think they're the ones that most people are gonna be comfortable with. Obviously the volatility. I don't love a rollercoaster. I loved it when I was probably a teenager, could not get me off them if we went to a theme park now could not pay to get me on them. <Laugh> <laugh>. Like understand what happens when things go wrong. And a lot of people feel like that when it comes to shares. They really don't like the volatility. When there's an upswing, they love it, they ride the rollercoaster and oh this is so exciting. But when there's a downswing, they feel sick and they wanna sell. And it's that volatility that make people feel really uncomfortable when it comes to shares. So my thoughts with that is that to treat that like you would covid, when Covid first came in, we talked about social distancing. For me it's social distancing from my shares looking at it all the time. You're not riding the rollercoaster. I can sit back and observe the rollercoaster <laugh>, but I don't need to get on it every single day.

Lawsie: <Laugh>. Yeah. And I think that's pro and against really, but it's so much easier to invest in shares now. We've got so many more platforms and apps with all the technological advancements from people that are much smarter in that space than you and I. But it also therefore makes it so easy to go in and you can go in and log on that app every minute of the day. Yes. And see how much that share price is going up or going down or the total value of your share investments is going up or down. And like you said, if you're someone that hates rollercoasters and if the thought of that is making you sick, then that is definitely gonna be feeding in your story about this is why I don't invest in shares. And to compare that to the property, you don't have the same access. You can log into realestate.com if you like every minute of the day and look at the value of your house. It's not gonna change <laugh>. Yeah. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. Unlike the value of your share investments. So it is, I think that point, if you ask someone that's like, no, the thought of that's making me sick, like invest in something that you feel comfortable with, delete the app off your phone, don't log into it on your computer and just let it do its thing. So yeah.

Mel: I love that. What's the next one? Lord dog.

Lawsie: This one is my favorite line. But so many people think that it feels like gambling. I think that's the biggest thing that shares has going against it for a lot of people stepping into investing. And the reason that it generally feels like gambling for people is 'cause they don't understand it and ties back to that thing property, we understand it, it's a house, it's something we can touch, we can drive past it shares. We're kind of going, what are we really buying? And because we don't know that and because it's tied in also with the fact that share prices fluctuate all the time. For a lot of people they do feel like it's gambling. And anecdotally I think people here have all these people that have made great losses or we refer back to the the GFC, the global financial crisis. Or we can go back further to the depression. Like there's so many big events that people go.

Lawsie: Oh the share market, they lost everything. All of those things. And I guess it's a couple of things of that is it's important to understand how the share market works and how like to your point, if you're riding that rollercoaster, you just gotta keep riding it and not abandon ship and sell your shares and things when they have dropped in value. So you do need to understand it and I think once you do understand it then it is gonna feel less like gambling for you. But that line I reckon has to be the biggest line that is pulled out by people as to being, the reason why they don't invest in shares is because they think it's gambling. Yeah.

Mel: And to be fair, if you are writing off a tip from your best mate's,

Lawsie: Gardener,

Mel: Dad, gardener, <laugh>, then it is gambling. Yeah. But there are ways to remove that gambling element. But absolutely it actually is gambling depending on how you treat it. There are ways that it doesn't. And education as you said. And we've got a masterclass or a money lesson around the basics of share investing. So we'll link that in the show notes that if you're someone that just needs more information to feel more comfortable with it, we'll pop it there as well. We've got one for property as well. I should have said that when we went through the property. So we'll link both of those. Third one is diversification. So if you are buying individual shares, then you are not receiving the diversification that you would need. There is 11 sectors in the Australian share market for example. You would want to get the diversification like really at decent diversification you want across all 11 sectors. And then I'd want at least 10 shares within each sector. So you're gonna wanna be able to afford at least 120, 110 shares.

Lawsie: That's a lot of shares

Mel: How good's, my math, that's a lot of shares and a lot of dollars just to own one share for all of them. And that's where for me, when people are trying to trade shares or buying individual shares, I think especially your general investor, it's super problematic. That's where you're not getting the diversification that you need. And we hear of a lot of people that will join our program, the My Financial Adulting Plan and say, yes, I bought some A and P shares back in the day, or I inherited some Commonwealth Bank or yes, some NRMA shares or what have you. And that's all they have. That's not diversification. That's one share in one sector that can be a huge problem against.

Lawsie: Yeah. And I think that when people aren't diversified and all we mean by that is making sure that you've got lots of shares across the different sectors like you said and different businesses and industries and even countries as well is when you are all in on one, then it of course it's gonna feel like gambling. Gambling, it's literally like backing the winning horse for the Melbourne Cup that feeds into that. And it is, it also really ties into property as well. Like you're not diversified like we said before. Yeah. If you have one property and that's where all your investing eggs are. So yeah, it needs to be and against the shares is when there is no diversification that that can be problematic and feed into those other against that we've listed as well.

Mel: Yeah. And the final one

Lawsie: Is, like we said for property, is that it is a long term game. So I think sometimes people go Oh I want to earn, they might hear great things about one quick win. Yeah. That shares markets have risen 10% today and they're like, oh awesome, I'm gonna go and chuck my house, deposit money in there or whatever. But you need to remember that for most people for shares, it is a long-term investment. You shouldn't be investing money that you need for something else in the next five to seven years because you only wanna invest money that you're prepared to leave and sit there. So if you are saving for a holiday, save if your house deposit, all of those things. And if you're doing that in that timeframe of less than five or seven years, which I'm hoping you're doing for a holiday, 'cause you know who wants to wait that long for a holiday?

Mel: God yes. <Laugh>

Lawsie: Then shares isn't the place for that money to be. So I think that isn't against the shares because it can be so easy to invest in shares. Now people forget

Mel: That doesn't mean you should.

Lawsie: Yeah.

Mel: Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Lawsie: It's like all investing, you've gotta have that long term view and make sure, sure that it actually fits into your overall financial goals and plans and all of those things. But yeah, that would be the final against that we've got for shares.

Mel: So the fors, which you may not be aware of and you might not even be able to think of any so we are gonna give you some A for is nowadays it's easier than ever and cheaper than ever to invest in shares once upon a time. I remember when I first started, it was one of the major banks trading platform and a stockbroker. So I used to do it with both. So hugely expensive like a phone call to a stockbroker, oh

Lawsie: You won't even call me these days <laugh>.

Mel: I don't use my phone for anything. It's like it was used to be hard. Whereas now it's so easy and so cheap. So that trading platform that I still use has dropped their fees markedly. 'cause Competition from apps has meant they've had to in order to compete. So it's cheap as far as to trade is then to buy shares. It's cheap to hold, it's easy. You can do it on your phone and you don't need to have large amounts. Micro investing means you can invest from as little as 1 cent. It's easier than ever to invest, which is again problematic. 'cause If you don't know what you're doing, it can be gambling. But that ease to do it. Part of what I say is that share investing is the great equalizer. You don't need a lot of money, you just need to have access to education and access to a platform to do it, which anyone can do.

Lawsie: Yeah. I think the next for is, we've touched on a little bit as we've been going through these is that shares are liquid. So it is much easier to buy and sell shares. Unlike property where we went through how long it takes to buy and sell and all of the rigmarole that goes with that, shares are much more liquid. You can, especially if you've got the app on your phone or on your computer, you go in sell bank done or you know

Mel: It's in your bank account in three to five days time,

Lawsie: Like it's so easy. Easy to buy, easy to sell. Providing that you're dealing with shares that are on a stock exchange. Yes. If you have been made some investments and demand for them. Yeah. In potentially companies that aren't as well known or that are raising capital but they're not doing it through a formal means that you can't access necessarily directly off a mainstream app. They will be a little less liquid. But for the most part, when we're talking about investing in the top Aussie 300 shares or the S&P 500 and things like that, they're quite liquid. It's easy to buy, easy to sell.

Mel: Yeah. We should really reinforce it. We're talking about public company shares when we're talking about that. We are not talking about private company shares. So when we are talking about shares in today's episode, it's all public company. So not crowdfunding equity, not private companies, nothing like that. All publicly traded on a one of the public stock exchanges. The third one, as you as we've been saying, you don't need a large deposit. So you can now invest for as little as 1 cent. Although certainly the Australian Stock Exchange suggests that you do it in lots of a thousand dollars as a minimum in order to make the trading percentages worthwhile

Lawsie: Or at least kind of 500.

Mel: Yeah, at least $500. It used to be $2,000 back in the day and that's because the fees were so much higher. So it's really interesting to hear that amount drop between 500 and 1000, which is really interesting. But yeah, you don't need a large deposit. You can invest with us a little as 1% and you can automate. So you don't even have to remember to do it yourself with some apps that'll allow it just to, you set the amount you want and to go for it.

Lawsie: And then to bring in, our favorite word that I think we've said a thousand times during the episode is shares allow for easy instant diversification. Yes, you can do exactly what you said and just go and buy your direct shares, your BHP, your Telstra, CommBank, whatever else that you like.

Mel: Amazon, your Apple.

Lawsie: Yeah, exactly. But if you were to invest as far say an exchange traded fund, that is a very diversified fund. So not something that's particularly niche. So again, you might choose the top 200, 300 Aussie shares or S&P 500 as an ETF for example, that's giving you exposure to 200, 300, 500 companies, which no doubt is still gonna be giving you then exposure over a whole range of sectors. And if you're doing S&P 500 and the Aussie ones like diversification of cross countries to kind of get it out. So I think that's a massive for for shares combined with everything else where we said that it's easier to do that. Imagine trying to buy shares in each of those companies individually as opposed to being able to go, actually I'm gonna just put a thousand dollars in and buy myself instant access to all of those companies for a thousand dollars. It's a very different marketplace now. So I think that that's a huge for for shares.

Mel: Yeah. And the final thing is just the percentage that you, so if we look at, certainly in Australia the last 30 years, the average return would be 9.29%. That's according to Vanguard. Which if we compare that to property that's 7.6. Between 6.8 and 7.3, that 2% is a massive difference for our friends in the US. You've got an lever in front of yours for our friends in New Zealand. You've got a nine UK's got eight in front of it. So the shares have generally outperformed via other asset classes simply because there is more volatility there. It is a higher risk investment so therefore you expect that you will get a higher return over it. And of course with all of these sort of things, past returns don't indicate future returns. You know, as I said for property, I don't know that we are gonna be getting those same returns going forward for all of the reasons we mentioned today.

Mel: But it is being aware that huh, it's riskier and so therefore there's potentially a higher reward there. Hopefully whether you are pro and only pro property or pro or only pro shares, we have convinced you to maybe consider diversifying into an asset class that maybe you hadn't considered or maybe you had felt a bit unfamiliar with. If you wanna deep dive more, as I said, we've got a masterclass on property and we've got a masterclass on shares. So we'll link both of those in the show notes. But what we really want you to hear is the most important thing that you can do is have diversification. Understand your timeframes, to understand your risk profiles, to understand your goals and to make sure that you diversify. Don't not do something 'cause you don't understand it. Take one of our master classes, decide what you're gonna do and then go for it.

Mel: If you enjoyed this episode, we would love it if you subscribed and give us a review, then make sure you come and play with me on Insta. I'm at @melbrowne.money Remember there's an E on the end of Browne. I'm one of those fancy Browne's, and don't forget to check out the show notes for even more ways you can work with me to transform your finances.



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