Exclusive insight and analysis from Insurance Times, Strategic Risk and Global Reinsurance

It’s spring at last, and the market was in tune with the seasons this month, continuing its return to activity. In the primary space, the first major acquisitions of the year were announced – by Oval and Henderson – and other brokers continued to throw their hats in the ring for acquisitions in the months ahead. Now, it’s time for less talk and more action – come on guys, we’re all waiting.

And the foundations are in place: the quarterly CBI/PricewaterhouseCoopers financial services survey showed of a broker market returning to buoyancy despite continued slight drops in business volumes, with headcount up for the first time in years, and expected to continue rising.

But there was a more depressed picture for insurers. The survey found that optimism among general insurers had fallen for the first time since September 2008. It attributed the gloomy mood to a sharp decline in business volumes, income values and profitability. There’s similar woe in the reinsurance market, where excess capital continues to depress rates, as seen in the Asian renewals. Reinsurers looking to grow their businesses are therefore thinking of M&A – see the deal between Max Capital and Harbor Point and expect more to follow.

Against a backdrop of political change in the UK, brokers, insurers and reinsurers alike are moving on from the financial crisis and getting ready for the next turn in the cycle. There are exciting times ahead.