Cast your minds back 30 years to 1987: the Dow Jones broke through 2,000 for the first time – today it is above 20,000 – while the FTSE 100 Index stood at 1,713 (7,250 today). Later that year, on Black Monday (19 October 1987) both saw dramatic falls, with the Dow Jones losing 40% of its value and the FTSE 100 25%. It was a good time for Brits to travel to the US as one pound would buy you USD$2.46 (USD$1.24 today) though booking your flights online was still a couple of decades away. We were also a few years away from the widespread commercial use of computers and the internet though Microsoft still led the way with their release of Windows 2.0.
We shared our world in 1987 with another five billion people. Today there are seven billion of us. That is a 40% increase in just 30 years!
Change itself is one constant but the pace of change is speeding up dramatically. Ideas for future developments today will be business as usual sooner than we can imagine. At the heart of all of this is technology. From the Big Bang in Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s to the 360degree virtual reality world in David Cameron and Theresa May’s 2010s, technology has driven and facilitated as well as benefited from the phenomenal pace of change across all areas of financial services over the past 30 years.
Fintech, robotics, cyber security, analytics, digitisation and blockchain are all common terms today but meant nothing 30 years ago – even 10 years ago! We even have a digital currency now, Bitcoin, which is worth close to $10bn.
And one company has seen it all, starting with Leonard Polonsky CBE’s Hansard International, among the first international life companies when it was set up in 1987, through to Gordon Marr’s Hansard International of 2017, its 30th anniversary year.
During this time, Hansard International has reacted to stock market and economic growth and crises; the increasing demands of tighter regulation; technological advancements; the opening of new markets; and, at the heart of it all, changing client behaviours.
In the process, Hansard International operates in more than 100 different countries, with 500+ advisers who all use the firm’s end-to-online tool, Hansard Online, on behalf of 40,000 clients. And all this while maintaining its identity, name and focus – one of only two companies in the industry that can claim to have done so.
In the coming weeks we will look at all of this in far more detail, how the industry is changing and developing and how Hansard International as a result is adapting and positioning itself for the next 30 years.