Survey finds brokers more gloomy about business prospects

A lack of professional staff threatens to hold back the growth of the broker market, a survey by the CBI revealed this week.

The trade association's quarterly survey of the financial services sector in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) found a gloomy outlook in insurance.

Optimism about the sector's overall business performance fell for the second quarter in a row, with the majority of respondents saying business was below normal levels.

Brokers were also gloomy about future business prospects. While they were hopeful that business volumes would increase in the coming quarter, the survey revealed brokers' pessimism over future fee and commission income. A majority of respondents said they expected it to decline in the next three months.

Asked which factors were expected to limit growth in the coming year, brokers highlighted low levels of demand, lack of professional staff, competition and regulation.

In contrast, insurers expected a buoyant third quarter in terms of business volumes, with a small majority expecting a rise in premium income.

Surprisingly, insurers were less concerned about a lack of professional staff, highlighting competition and lack of systems capacity as being the main factors that would limit growth.

Clare Thompson, UK insurance leader at PWC, said the survey showed brokers had "still not come to terms with regulation".

It also highlighted the growing lack of skilled professional staff.

Overall, she said the survey demonstrated there was "less optimism than a year ago".