When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That’s what we’re seeing with large brokers making a bigger play into the managing general agent (MGA) space. The margin is usually better on MGA business than retail broking (see page 10 of Insurance Times 16 October 2013).

But there are significant risks – just look at JLT. It has performed superbly at group level. But its MGA, Thistle, last year slumped into a trading loss, being too generalist and too exposed to the weak areas of the UK economy.

There are real benefits in large brokers having MGAs, but it is essential that they have a unique selling point.

• The Insurance Times Awards are fast approaching, and this year the industry will decide the winners of three categories that are open to a public vote. The shortlists have been finalised and it’s up to you to pick your 2013 General Insurer of the Year, Commercial Lines Insurer of the Year, and Personal Lines Insurer of the Year. Turn to page 4 to see the finalists and voting links.

• The future of mid-market insurer trading will see some players become more regionally focused and others more centralised, but it shouldn’t be about cost savings. That’s the message from RSA mid-market regions director Dan Wilkinson (page 20). As well as face-to-face broker contact, insurers should invest in the digital revolution. More higher premium business will be traded on commercial quote engines and more documentation will be transferred electronically on mobile applications. The march of technology is upon us, and those that don’t keep pace will be left behind.