Brendan McManus, managing director, Royal & SunAlliance

McManus said that with three different types of commercial lines' customers, there was quite a lot of room for brokers to differentiate in the space of advice and consultancy.

He predicted that multinational brokers would be in mild decline over the next few years, with "the poor old small provincial broker" also suffering badly.

"An aggressive acquisition strategy by some of the larger brokers will see numbers fall dramatically," he warned.

National brokers, on the other hand, were going to "grow and grow" as well as managed general agencies and the direct and affinity markets.

He added that super provincials and networks would drive aggressive acquisition, but he placed a big question mark on the distribution of commercial lines insurance through banks.

In terms of future challenges, McManus said brokers would require a great brand, an understanding of both sides of the supply chain and increasingly, to move towards a retail model.

"I do not think it is good enough any more to pressure the insurer into dropping the price to differentiate your proposition," he said. "Your proposition has to be differentiated in itself."