Conor Finn, managing director, non-marine property, Markel International

Finn gave his personal perspective on consolidation and began by saying that going through it was "pretty tough". At the time, he did not think it was a good thing; looking back on it, he probably does.

He said: "I think this can be a good thing. You have less distribution sources to deal with, less variance in underwriting submissions, and they are generally bought by stronger, better organised firms. A good side issue on this, though, is that it creates very good spin-offs, particularly in the London market.

In his speech Barton recognised the value of brokers and how they can support relationships after consolidation. He sees them as his sales force and "wants to know what makes them tick".

He said: "When they move to another company, as they invariably do, certainly after one of these consolidations, I would encourage you to contact them and maintain the relationship. Tell them you are there for them, recognising their values, personal expertise and market relationships.

"Consolidation is a good thing, which creates opportunity and upgrades our industry," he concluded.