Straight Talk with Sharon Fox-Slater
From a single-person operation to a national business employing more than 80 staff – EBM RentCover has stamped its mark on the insurance industry. However, Managing Director Sharon Fox-Slater states there is still more to come…
Insurance can be confusing and complicated, but delivering exceptional service is pretty simple, says EBM RentCover Managing Director Sharon Fox-Slater.
“The truth is, insurance means different things to different people,” she says.
“For clients, it’s a way to recoup costs if something bad happens. For insurers, there is a perception it is a way to make money from people who are lucky enough to avoid disaster.
“But, for EBM RentCover, insurance is about providing certainty in times of uncertainty, by educating and empowering our property partners and landlords to understand the true value of properly protecting their investment properties.”
This philosophy has been ingrained in the culture of EBM RentCover for close to 30 years, and has forged the business ahead as a leader in specialised landlord insurance. It has transformed from a small start-up into a national operation of more than 80 employees who work hard to educate property professionals and protect more than 145,000 policyholders.
A key driver of the company’s success is Sharon Fox-Slater, who has worked in the insurance industry for more than 30 years. She joined EBM back in 1993 and was part of the core team that helped launch one of Australia’s first landlord insurance policies into the market.
Sharon says EBM RentCover is built upon a foundation of integrity and honesty – values a client does not typically associate with insurers or broking houses.
“At EBM RentCover, we offer more than landlord insurance – we offer proactive service and support so our property partners and clients feel confident they are well protected,” she says.
“Our team is also passionate about education. Insurance is an industry constantly misunderstood – people don’t comprehend how far-reaching and influential it really is. However, without insurance the world wouldn’t operate as we know it – planes wouldn’t fly, ships wouldn’t sail, buildings wouldn’t be built – because no one would be prepared to take any risks.
“To combat misconceptions, we work to promote the value of insurance and our service.”
While Sharon admits she didn’t necessarily see a future in insurance when she first started out, she says she couldn’t see her career panning out any other way. Now, she is keen to get more and more young people interested in the profession.
This is no easy feat, with Sharon noting there are some challenges when it comes to recruiting the next generation of insurance professionals.
“It is clear the majority of young people don’t know what insurance is, how it works and the value it adds to society,” she says. “And, those who do understand the world of insurance oftentimes have a negative view of the industry.
“However, insurance is an exciting industry and a long-term career opportunity for those who are prepared to work hard. Most excitingly, it is an industry for everyone – it has roles for those with varying backgrounds and differing education levels, and is a perfect opportunity for school leavers wanting to kick-start their careers.
“I started in the industry in an entry-level position and now work as the managing director of EBM RentCover – that scope for development is not available in a lot of industries.”
In addition to the accomplishments Sharon has achieved at EBM RentCover, she was the first woman in Australia to complete the Advanced Diploma in Insurance Broking, and as a result, was the first woman to become a Fellow of the National Insurance Brokers’ Association.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
Growing EBM RentCover from a one-person operation to a business employing more than 80 staff is a definite highlight. When I was first asked to manage EBM RentCover, it had a few hundred clients. Now, the business protects more than 145,000 properties across Australia. The growth has been both staggering and unexpected.
What do you attribute the growth to?
The growth is because of our people. We wouldn’t be where we are today without a team of superstars who are dedicated to delivering the best customer support to clients. Our staff genuinely care about relationships with clients and educating property professionals about the value of landlord insurance.
What does the future of EBM RentCover look like?
EBM RentCover will continue to grow on the back of its reputation as leaders in landlord insurance. In addition, we are investing considerable money in our brand and finding new ways to provide a greater service to our property partners and clients. We are ultimately investing in ourselves, so we can invest in our clients.
Looking at the insurance industry as a whole, how do you see it changing and evolving over the next five to 10 years?
They Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry will affect the future of the insurance industry. Recommendations relating to the sector are set to bring it in line with the more heavily regulated areas of financial services, in turn weeding out those who give insurance a bad name, and ultimately boosting the professionalism of the industry.