Bartlett & Company Inc. – Over 75 Years of Global Service
In a globe-straddling twist on the family-owned regional agency, UK-owned Bartlett & Co. Inc., operated by second- and third-generation insurance professionals, combines a unique international footprint and a focus on niche markets to create a formidable and fast-growing business that’s more than equal to the task of competing with big brokers for business.
The firm was started in 1940 by Fred Bartlett in the English city of Bradford. Unable to join the Royal Air Force due to poor eyesight, he worked in a coal pit to help keep British industry going during the war, and later joined the Auxiliary Fire Service— all while running the business. The brokerage is now led by Michael Bartlett (Fred’s son) and his two sons, Richard and Andrew, from group headquarters in Leeds, England. Under Michael’s leadership the business has grown from a regional insurance broker in the UK to a much larger player, with over 120 employees that manage insurance programs in more than 40 countries from offices in Philadelphia, Leeds, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Sydney and Kampala, Uganda.
Bartlett opened its Philadelphia office in 1997, originally to service the American business interests of its European clients. Since then, Bartlett has developed a large and expanding roster of US clients. Currently, about 50 percent of Bartlett’s Philadelphia-branch business is generated from overseas; the other half is US-based, much of which has an overseas exposure. Bartlett’s sprawling global reach affords the brokerage access to all major insurance carriers around the world. In addition to standard market access, Bartlett Ltd is also a registered broker at Lloyd’s of London. This status at Lloyd’s serves as a distinct advantage for Bartlett and their clients, by increasing the options available for complex risks and providing additional capacity when the market cycle causes upward pressure on premiums.
In addition to its ability to offer global service to its clients, Bartlett sees two other factors as critical to the firm’s solid performance: its approach to pricing and a laser-sharp focus on niche markets. “In a country with 38,000 independent brokers, it’s important not to fall into a ‘race to the bottom’ and compete solely on price when it comes to placing insurance and advising business executives,” says Richard Bartlett. “While price has been a driver in securing new business during the global recession, identifying niche markets which play to our strengths—with higher barriers to entry and where the expertise of our staff and high service standards will be valued—has enabled us to compete on other differentiators and ensure our steady organic growth through demonstrating and delivering value to our clients and prospects,” Bartlett adds.
The firm’s industry specializations have been developed first through the knowledge and expertise of its account executives and then by being institutionalized into the business, having the effect of combining a spirit of entrepreneurialism with the structures and resources of a larger business. Bartlett’s sweet spot is middle-market corporate business, specifically in the specialty areas of manufacturing, technology, real estate, credit insurance and due-diligence reporting in mergers and acquisitions. Bartlett’s strong international network makes specializing in middle-market global business a natural fit. “Unlike many of our regional competitors, our primary day-to-day focus is on structuring and servicing international insurance programs. Our international footprint enables us to maintain high service standards across the globe instead of relying on broker partner groups to assist us in servicing our clients in countries outside of the US. At the same time, we are able to offer a more personalized family-business approach than the larger brokers,” says Pat Riley, President of Bartlett & Company Inc. in Philadelphia. “Like other privately owned businesses, we aren’t burdened by quarterly earnings or share price, so we are able to focus all of our attention on providing the best long-term insurance and risk management advice to all of our clients.”
Customer retention, of course, is an important aspect of continued growth, and at Bartlett, much of this hinges on acting as the clients’ outsourced risk manager and trusted advisor. The brokerage provides clients with beyond-the-basics services, such as:
- Risk management and loss control advice, including claims and loss analysis, business continuity planning, contract reviews, motor-fleet risk management and workplace safety reviews;
- An experienced major-loss advisor who can deploy to clients’ sites anywhere in the world to support claims settlement;
- An online client-feedback survey ensuring early identification of potential problems;
- Aggressive marketing and benchmarking services to ensure premiums are competitive;
- Regular contact between the client and the Bartlett team at all levels, including stewardship meetings midway through the policy period to review pre-defined risk management and claims goals, future business plans, the state of the market, and renewal strategies.
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