Tom Broughton, Editor
Listen to the doom-mongers and the economic outlook for 2008 is bleaker than a thick fog. House prices are predicted to tumble, interest rates will remain uncertain and the billions of pounds of private equity cash pouring into UK plc may suddenly dry up as the global credit crunch takes it toll.
The onset of any recession may well impact on jobs, clients, investment and innovation over the coming months. But take a step back from the doom and gloom and the general insurance market has never looked so dynamic. Research released by Newsquest Specialist Media, Insurance Times’ parent company this week, (see front page and pages 6-7) reveals that the opportunities for this year are infinite.
The research, which is based on a survey of views from hundreds of brokers, details the extent of the deal mania gripping the sector and gives a definitive broker verdict on the big issues of the day, including the dramatically changing market structure and the extent of the usual bugbears of insurer service and regulation.
What has become clear is that the issue of broker ownership and independence will become paramount in 2008 as insurers change their acquisition strategies and ageing brokers look to cash in their golden retirement tickets. As one broker in the research declares: “Soon, if you’ve no scale, you’re dead.” But that is only one side of a story that is continually changing as many entrepreneurs emerge from the confines of restrictive covenants to start up afresh and the sector continues to deliberate on how much investment should be poured into the new digital age and other opportunities as they look to diversify.
And finally there is the small matter of the many deal makers and personalities in the sector. This is epitomised by the fact that 38% of all those who had received an acquisition approach in the last 12 months had received it from Towergate.
Together these factors make for exciting times and here at Insurance Times we look forward to giving you more insight, depth of coverage and analysis over the coming months than ever before, both in the pages of this magazine and online at www.insurancetimes.co.uk.