Jon Houghton, business development manager, Endurance Worldwide

Houghton was bullish about the negative effects of commoditisation. He said: "Treating insurance purchases as commodity trades could have a damaging effect on brokers' and insurers' profitability and growth aspirations. If turned around, however, the trend could lead to long-term, sustainable business in this sector."

He expressed concern that consolidation could adversely affect customer service: "Office closures, staff layoffs, outsourcing to other parts of the world and potential for further consolidation: is this really a recipe for the delivery of high levels of expert service by the broker that are required in this sector?"

Houghton's experience with mid-to-large corporate accounts has led him to the conclusion that they "require an individual response from the insurer and broker to meet specific needs".

He challenged the industry to stop focusing so heavily on rates and emphasise service instead. He warned delegates: "Between us, we may secure business with a low-premium commodity trade, but if the service elements are not in place, particularly around a claim, you can say goodbye to that client forever."

Houghton concluded by supporting the role of the broker in servicing mid-to-high level corporate accounts: "Brokers are here to stay".