Editor Katie Scott reviews some of the predictions around this year’s Top 50 Brokers report, also considering the acquisition that could change the lay of the land next year

This year’s Top 50 Brokers report, compiled by Insurance Times and corporate advisory firm Imas, didn’t perhaps depict the picture that many of us expected to see within the ranking’s upper echelons, as Aon’s near $30bn (£21.7bn) takeover bid of rival broker Willis Towers Watson (WTW) was aborted in July following global competition authority concerns.

Katie Scott_bw_path

Katie Scott

As 2020’s report went to print, we all mulled over how the mega-merger would influence this year’s results, wondering whether Marsh would be knocked off the top spot after placing first in the rankings for five consecutive years now.

With the US Department of Justice putting a decided nail in the Aon-WTW acquisition’s coffin, our thoughts can now turn to this quarter’s M&A darling – broker Howden’s purchase of independent retail broker Aston Lark.

Howden Group ranked fifth in 2021’s Top 50 Brokers report, obviously now incorporating broker A-Plan which it bought early this year. Aston Lark Group, meanwhile, was back in 25th place – a fall from last year’s ranking of 21.

Once the dust settles on the deal, does the newly expanded Howden have the ability to creep up the rankings for 2022 and break into the top three, meddling with the likes of Marsh, Willis and Ardonagh? Or, could it supplant fourth-placed Aon?

Attending last month’s Broker CEO Forum, the buzz from the broking community on the deal was overwhelmingly positive, with plenty of back slapping and excitement for the future.

Axa Commercial chief executive Jon Walker, meanwhile, said the transaction “creates a strong and significant broking business with wide market coverage and an experienced leadership team”.

The industry will be watching Howden’s next steps with interest.