Insurance Times’ annual survey of the biggest and best brokers in the UK has dealt a number of surprises.

See download: Top 50 brokers 2008

The biggest surprise in this year’s Top 50 Brokers is the number three spot: following the merger of the AA and Saga, the holding group for the two companies, Acromas Holdings, has booted Willis off its long-held number three position on the winner’s podium into fourth place.

Not only does this give a tantalising hint of changes to come in the market’s running order as consolidation beds down, it also neatly demonstrates the rise of the personal lines broker, against all odds and all predictions, and the comparative decline of the London market.

This year’s Top 50 Brokers examines all these themes in detail, and provides the usual invaluable guide to the UK’s leading insurance brokers. It is packed with data and analysis, and like the market itself, is bursting with big personalities.

• Turn straight to page seven for IMAS’s Oliver Laughton-Scott’s overview of this year’s winners and losers, with detailed analysis of the trends from IMAS’s James Simpson following on page 10.

• Top 50 brokers beware: there are some young whippersnappers hot on your heels, and set to take their place on the list next year. We met two of the best.

• In his first interview since taking the helm at Venture Preference, Stuart Reid speaks out about his plans to grow the already massive broker to £1bn – and answers some tough questions.

• Taking over from Willis as the UK’s third largest broker, the AA and Saga are a force to be reckoned with. We introduce Simon Douglas, the man running insurance at the AA.

• The London market has seen negative growth and continuing softening rates. How can global brokers defend their position at the top of the chart?

• Personal lines brokers are back from the dead: here’s how they did it. We hope you enjoy the new design of the Top 50 Brokers, and many thanks to IMAS for supplying the data.