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Back to the future – 40 business changes in 40 years

04 November 2015 Sharon Fox-Slater

When the Delorean hit the headlines last month, we laughed out loud at how 2015 was cast in the 1980s movie classic Back to the Future.

Hoverboards, futuristic fashion and self-tie sneakers all struck a chord here in EBM’s RentCover office as we also celebrated our own major milestone – 40 years in the insurance industry.

Transport, technology and trade have also changed a lot since EBM started work above a pizza shop in Perth in 1975 – and there have definitely been some fashion moments we’d prefer to forget (think Back to the Future trends)!

So, I thought I’d take EBM’s 40th anniversary as a chance to share some of the ways business has changed in 40 years – and I hope you’ll share the changes you recall too:

  1. We are now contactable 24 hours a day, thanks to our…
  2. Mobile phones.
  3. We used to keep our contacts in something that ended with ‘x’ – rolodex then Filofax – but now we use our…
  4. Mobile phones.
  5. Instead of using a camera loaded with film that needs to be developed at a chemist and picked up a week later, we take photos with our…
  6. Mobile phones.
  7. We can send information overseas by email (yes, from our mobile phones!) without…
  8. Sending a telegram and paying by the word (stop) or writing a letter.
  9. We have more than 200 staff members…
  10. Instead of just two brokers.
  11. We have nine offices…
  12. Instead of only one.
  13. Our offices are quiet because there are…
  14. No typing pools or telex machines.
  15. We still “CC” people even though we…
  16. Don’t use carbon copy paper!
  17. Instead of handing over yellow envelopes containing cash…
  18. We pay our staff electronically.
  19. Our office smells better…
  20. Because no one smokes in it.
  21. We may not have ashtrays any more, but we do have…
  22. Espresso machines and water coolers.
  23. We do not use the White Pages because we…
  24. Have Google (even on our mobile phones!).
  25. We still have lunch but…
  26. They are no longer three hours long over a bottle or three of shiraz – it’s more often a sandwich at our desks (alas).
  27. We still make tentative bookings but…
  28. We don’t, literally, "pencil them in"… with a pencil.
  29. If we want to make a visual point in a presentation, we use Powerpoint…
  30. Instead of a flip chart.
  31. Our team no longer boast flared trousers, large collars or loud paisley ties…
  32. But some of the younger ones do sport tattoos.
  33. We record things on memory sticks (having traversed floppy discs, hard discs, CDs, etc)….
  34. Instead of paper files (oh, OK, in addition to paper files).
  35. If we fly Qantas, we get free headphones and, sometimes, in-seat TV…
  36. But we don’t get a zip up vinyl bag emblazoned with the Flying Kangaroo.
  37. We cover cyber exposures…
  38. But not with HIH.
  39. We don’t have a tea lady or a mail boy…
  40. But we do have an IT help desk.

Have I missed anything? Share your thoughts below.

Back to the future – 40 business changes in 40 years
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Sharon Fox-Slater is the managing director of RentCover, a division of EBM, which insures 120,000 investment properties around Australia. With over 20 years’ experience in landlord insurance, Sharon’s top priority is customer service and positive customer comments are her biggest marker of success. Despite leaving school at 15, Sharon has forged a ground-breaking career – she was the first woman to become a fellow of the National Insurance Brokers Association. Sharon was honoured to have been included in Insurance Business magazine’s Elite Brokers 2013 list.

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