Time certainly flies. It was more than twenty years ago that Aon bought the Dutch firm Hudig-Laneveldt; a deal prompting a chain reaction of moves and counter-moves, like a giant game of Risk, by the end of which the broking world map was completely re-drawn. Today the market is accustomed to the mighty fire-power of the three global brokers — Aon, Marsh and Willis — who emerged as winners from that tumultuous period in the industry. They have all just posted strong organic growth figures at the third quarter suggesting that years later their dominant positions as distributors of insurance products are consolidating further.

Perhaps it is a coincidence that two of the brokers have former McKinsey men at the helm, yet especially viewed from a carrier’s standpoint there appear to be more similarities in the strategy of the ‘big three’ than major points of divergence. Each is significantly rationalizing the number of insurers they trade with; nurturing more meaningful relationships with far fewer friends and designing interfaces and facilities of various types to channel business on a more automatic basis into this preferred bunch of suppliers. Not alone by any means but leading the charge is Aon with a premium flow now in excess of $100 billion and an objective to package up and trade out in bulk to their pals more than just a few percentage points of this vast bank of revenue.

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