In a world where globalisation is dominant, the cultural differences between the London and Glasgow insurance markets appear to be slim. Compliance, consolidation and recruitment dominated discussions at the Insurance Times' top 20 brokers event in Glasgow.

Research suggests that there are now fewer than 200 independent brokers in Scotland, a market which is yet to be dominated by consolidators.

Heading the league table is Scotland's largest independent broker, Giles Insurance Brokers. Ironically, chief executive, Chris Giles is now based south of the border, but he made the trip to Glasgow to collect the award.

Giles' presence stimulated debate about the number of independent brokers still in existence in Scotland. Douglas Young, a consultant with JCL Hansen Young, says latest research suggests that there are now less than 200 independent brokers in Scotland.

Eric Galbraith, chief executive of Biba, says it is a disturbing figure which shows that the number of companies coming into the Scottish market have deflated considerably. He questions why this is so, particularly as Glasgow is home to a university which offers a risk management course.

With plenty of talk surrounding the lack of talent entering the industry this was a valid point. Compliance costs are up and smaller brokers are struggling to survive, but they will still rebuff consolidation. Giles says: "No one would sell to me in Scotland, so I had to go south."

But this will not stop the consolidation train. "I think there is going to be a radical reshape of the broker market. I think your 185 brokers in Scotland will be 25 in three or four years and I think there is inevitability about the consolidation process," adds Giles.

Another broker said those still hanging on to the "good old days" will literally "disappear" within five years.

It is a gloomy picture in a country which is pouring money into new development, in a bid to grow its financial service sector. But it is not all doom and gloom.

Several brokers have relationships with their clients which span years. "The benefits of being Scottish are, I do not like words like 'nationalism' or whatever else, but there is a sort of feeling that Scottish brokers do have something slightly different to offer. We are on hand to look after clients," says Allan Russell.

Last time I visited Scotland to see the Scots pelt England at Murrayfield one insurer told me: "Scotland hasn't seen the consolidation which England has. Brokers like their independence and confidence."

The brokers networking in Scotland say much the same thing, insurance buyers tend to want to know that they are supporting the local economy by using an independent broker.

Although the issues facing Scottish brokers do not differ greatly from their UK contemporaries there is a sense that just being in Scotland is an advantage for some.

With Glasgow City Council ploughing millions into the City's financial services district there appears to be some acceptance that the consolidators will move in.

But the Scottish independent broker is not yet ready to give up the fight and will endeavour to find the solutions to the questions the market is asking itself. IT