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Technology has changed the face of the financial services industry, a fact Equity Trustees shared with its shareholders in the 1990 annual report. For a stable, conservative trustee company, the safeguards in terms of client privacy, as well as reaffirming Equity Trustees’ traditional personal service, were stressed just as much as the benefits of technology.

“Client confidentiality is assured at all times by a comprehensive authorisation process,” the Annual report that year assured readers.

It did take a little settling in though – a long serving Equity Trustees member (still working in our Melbourne office) recalls: “I do recall working on the so called “Dumb Terminals” at 472 Bourke Street, the original building in 1985... They were for data entry only. The back up for the data was kept on tapes which was done lunchtime and morning, then stored in the NAB – 500 Bourke Street in case of fire.”

But the benefits, which started flowing after that early computer technology was first introduced in the 80’s, did flow and by the 90’s many employees had desktop terminals. “Senior officers have a vast amount of information at their fingertips, including direct links to external service points such as Austraclear, a money market securities system that physically eliminates the need to transfer documentation”. It goes on to add that “modern technology has made possible the constant monitoring of listed securities and management of common funds. The touch of a button now produces the facts and figures that give an instant evaluation of the financial situation … Even tax returns can now be sent by computer directly to the Tax Office because Equity was one of the first tax agents to link up with the new Electronic Lodgement Service.”