In this series, members of the Cerno team reflect on the crisis and provide detail on their work and domestic lives.

For our next interview, we caught up with Hashim Mustafa, Senior Accountant, to hear how his role has had to adapt to challenges presented by the crisis, and what has kept him busy at home.

Hashim, please sum up your role at Cerno Capital. What are you missing about the office?

I am responsible for client reporting, trade flow processing between the Portfolio Managers and our clients and custodians and managing our middle office software. I miss the day to day interactions with my colleagues. I also miss going to the gym, which I used to do with my work colleagues at lunch time. Unfortunately without this, my main exercise whilst working from home has been running after the kids.

You have been working at home, whilst also looking after two young kids! What does your daily routine look like?

My kids used to be my alarm pre Covid-19, however as they are sleeping very late now, I have had to resort to the alarm! My daughter and I are generally the first to wake up, and we get ready quickly before we start the day with our daily Cerno 9am Teams Meeting. The call has been a great way of keeping up to date with market movements and letting the rest of the team know what has been happening with client accounts.

What has been great about working from home is the flexibility without doubt. Sometimes if the kids have been extremely challenging during the day, I find time in the evening to finish off tasks. And not having to commute which saves me just under 2 hours a day is another great thing.

What have been your favourite additions to your routine since working from home, have there been any new skills you have picked up?

During phase 1 of the lockdown we would go for walks in our local area, which is something we rarely did prior. However, to my surprise we found a horse stable within 10 minutes’ walk which was a pleasant surprise. There were four beautiful horses in the fields and the next time we went to visit we would bring fruits with us to feed the horses, which they thoroughly enjoyed!

Being at home full time, I have discovered how tiring it was for my wife to look after the kids and do the housework alone! But I’ve been working on my kitchen skills. I love making crepes and pancakes and I’ve managed to perfect these recipes over the last few months. I also made a lasagne for the first time and have started to make more advanced pasta recipes too.

What have been your favourite home-school lesson so far, and have you been keeping your children entertained over the lockdown?

I’ve really enjoyed the science lessons involving trees and plants. I took my daughter on a tree and plant hunt in the forest near our home, which brought back memories from school field trips and was also nice to learn the different names of leaves, trees and plants.

I also signed up to Twinkl when my daughter’s school was not providing teaching between Easter and May half term. It’s an amazing website that has so many resources, activities and games to keep her busy. For my two year-old, he needs a lot of attention to keep him busy. The one saving grace is he still likes his afternoon nap which gives us some respite!

I’m hoping the current levels of Covid remain stable despite lockdown easing. Early signs from Germany, Spain, Italy and France show there hasn’t been much of a spike since they eased lockdown. I’m hoping we can keep the kids entertained in the summer holidays and they can return to school in September.

Do you think you have had Covid-19?

I haven’t had Covid-19 that I know of, but 5 of my cousins had it in March. I have family in Iraq, and many of my cousins got Covid and unfortunately one passed away.

How do you see the world adapting as we return to normality? What do you think are the longer-term consequences for the UK?

It looks like immunity only lasts for 3 months, which if true, will mean Covid-19 will be with us for a long time and so our behaviour will need to adapt.

When you consider that back in March the scientists said sporting events were fine, and now they are not, masks were not necessary, but now they are, or people arriving from abroad do not need to quarantine, and now they do, with all this flipflopping, I’ve not taken too much notice of what they say. From the onset of this pandemic, I’ve always washed my hands, used sanitiser whenever in contact with items outside and used a mask in indoor places.

I think these practices will establish a new normal, which is a good thing. All businesses that interact with the public are taking cleanliness seriously now, and even if Covid is controlled, I think these health measures such as sanitisers in shops etc will remain. I hope this may even prevent deaths in the winter from the seasonal flu.

I fear the consequences will be bad for those who were in lockdown alone for many months. I fear the mental health of many people has been affected from both lockdown and fear from the virus. You also have the possible consequences of mass unemployment, which the government are trying their hardest to avoid through their furlough scheme. Finally, I also worry about the 1000s of people who may not have visited their GP or hospital with pains that could be related to cancer. This may cause another wave of excess deaths in the future which is incredibly sad.

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