Marsh parent MMC widened the earnings gap on Willis, as both brokers reported powerful first quarter results.

Willis reported revenues up by 23% to $555m (£348.7m) from $451m (£283.3m) in the same period last year. MMC's growth of 7.5% took it to a whopping $2.85bn (£1.79bn) from $2.64bn (£1.66bn).

Willis increased its net income by 72% to $117m from $68m while Marsh grew net income by 6%, to $443m from $418m last year. On net income per share, Willis achieved 79 cents, an increase from 46 cents last year. MMC was ahead on 83 cents, up from 73 cents last year.

Willis chief executive Joe Plumeri said: "The majority of our organic revenue growth was attributable to net new business rather than higher premium rates."