With the market beginning to soften, growth in the broker sector is losing momentum

The brakes are coming on. In contrast to the staggering growth of last year, the income and profit growth of the broking sector is beginning to stall.

The change of gear has been particularly marked among the top ten brokers, growth slowing from 16.9% to only 1.5% (page 16). Growth in the following pack has slowed down too, but the downturn has been less dramatic. They are hungry and keen to expand. Oval, Folgate and Country Mutual have been hot on the acquisition trail, with Howden and RK Harrison achieving impressive organic growth.

With the market beginning to soften, it is not surprising that growth is becoming muted; last year's strong figures for growth came off the back of a hard market. Now, despite insurers' contention that rates are holding, premiums are beginning to flatten or fall off (page 7).

For brokers such as Keelan Westall chief executive Ashley Canning, who is looking to break into the top 50, the downturn in rates will make their job that much tougher (page 13).

Beyond the softening market, the issue occupying too much of many brokers' time is the question of which software system to use. The software houses continue in their battle for business, but brokers are all too often perplexed by which system to choose. Insurance Times asked some brokers what prompted them to pick one software company over another (page 11).

Meanwhile, Lloyd's is at the beginning of a major rebranding strategy.

As customers of Lloyd's, brokers are an important part in this plan. The rebrand will cost Lloyd's millions of pounds and take years to complete.

Insurance Times in conjunction with brand consultancy Dave has done its own rebranding exercise. Turn to page 14 to see the result.