Brokers have turned the corner in their fight against direct writers, Edgar Hamilton chairman Terry Wellard told an audience of brokers at his group's Into the Millennium conference in London last week.

He argued that the survival of so many in the face of intense competition disproved gloomy forecasts for the industry's future.

"We are in the ascendancy," Wellard said.

He went on to dismiss pundits' other prediction that direct writers would capture three quarters of the distribution market by the millennium.

Figures on the eve of 2000 showed the reverse was true. "Brokers still control 75% of the business. Our numbers have diminished but we are left with the smart set."

He urged brokers to rise to the challenge of direct writers by stressing their local presence.

"It's true that the battle weary will want to leave the trenches. But young people want to come into the industry. We are attracting young entrepreneurs."

These, and other tips, are included in business consultant Nigel Dyer's 12-step marketing plan for brokers entitled Marketing on a Shoestring, available from Edgar Hamilton.

At the same conference, Lloyd's chief executive Nick Prettejohn warned that rates in the market must rise if it is to return to long-term profitability. "The market is enduring uneconomic pricing and rating," he said.

Prettejohn admitted that for too long Lloyd's has been inward looking.

"Lloyd's has been a bit of a mystery, a black box. We have the opportunity to present ourselves to the world stage. Lloyd's is the broker market par excellence."

Change must also come in the way Lloyd's brokers are regulated, he argued.

"We want to maintain standards and we will continue to apply high standards. But we also want to widen access in the way which is most commercially sensible."

The Lloyd's chief executive announced its governing corporation would be issuing a consultation paper on broker regulation in the near future.