Brokers' profitability has hit an all-time low, according to the latest Financial Services Survey published by the CBI and Pricewaterhouse-Coopers (PWC).

The survey, which gathered responses from a broad range of intermediaries, including general insurance brokers, Lloyd's brokers and independent financial advisers, revealed that brokers' profitability fell at the fastest rate since December 2003.

Profits will continue to go down next quarter, although "less dramatically, with volumes expected to recover a little," said the survey.

Volumes of business are also slowing down, having fallen at their fastest rate since December 1989, with only limited growth expected next quarter.

This situation has not been shared by insurers, which saw business volumes grow at their fastest pace since March 2004, "driven by a further acceleration in business with private individuals and overseas customers".

Despite that, profitability has declined due to increasing costs.

Clare Thompson, PWC UK insurance leader, said: "The message is that, on the whole, brokers are less optimistic than insurers, perhaps partly because there is not so much business going through brokers."

She added that the insurance industry "is experiencing pressures due to the continuing growth in the value of contracts surrendered and recent fluctuations in the stock market".