It’s Biba time again! As the industry gathers in Manchester for its annual shebang, what will be the story on everyone’s lips?

Here are a few questions to get you started:

1. Rates – will this soft market ever end? Certainly not while insurer bosses are trumpeting ‘profitable growth’ when all the while their underwriters are chasing each other down on rate. Who are the real culprits? Hunt them down in Manchester …

2. Who’s going to get the biggest job in insurance? This week, we exclusively interview Peter Cullum and Andy Homer as they prepare to hand Towergate over to the next generation – but who’s going to get Homer’s job? It’s a fair bet that most, if not all, of the nine-strong shortlist will be at the conference this week. Clue: they’re the ones who’ll blush when you ask them.

3. What’s going on at QBE – and why won’t they talk about it? If you can get some answers from the Aussie insurer, then do let us know!

4. Where are all the broker acquisitions? The world and his wife have signalled their intent to buy – but no major deals have happened. Come on Peter Cullum, Chris Giles, Philip Hodson – time to get the chequebooks out …

5. It’s Amanda Blanc’s first outing as chief executive of AXA commercial. What will be her message to brokers – and how keen will they be to listen?

Only one way to find out. I’ll see you there.

• Insurer NIG has a special place in many brokers’ hearts, which is one of the main reasons they were so upset when it suddenly withdrew from personal lines last year. Beset by bodily injury claims, the insurer had to make some tough choices, and after a torrid two years, it’s ready to reap the benefits. ‘Guaranteed to Beat’ was a highly controversial offer but no doubt more than paid for itself in publicity terms alone.

Now Greenwood will need to prove that there is more to the new NIG than gimmicks and discounts. Best of luck to him.