Bissell and Partners CEO on fulfilling a career-long ambition

"You've got to take a leap of faith every now and then"

Bissell and Partners CEO on fulfilling a career-long ambition


By Mia Wallace

You only have one chance to make a first impression but, if you do it right, that’s all you need. The first impression that the Lloyd’s of London made on Chris Bissell (pictured), CEO of Bissell and Partners, was enough that it sparked his career-long ambition of becoming part of the unique ecosystem of the world’s oldest insurance marketplace.

It was just over 15 years ago that he had his fast taste of the market, he said, at a crucial juncture in his life when he was deciding whether to take up a place at university or join the workforce. He knew that he wanted to work in London, he said, and it was undertaking a work experience placement at a brokerage that made up his mind.

“I remember being taken around Lloyd’s and from the moment you walk in, you’re just wowed by the rostrum,” he said. “Everything about it was and is just so fascinating. I fell into the Lloyd’s ecosystem and always set my stall out with the ambition of creating my own Lloyd’s broker.”

How Bissell came to establish Bissell and Partners

Bissell’s early days in the re/insurance market saw him take on a variety of roles including a brief stint in underwriting and time spent as a box assistant before he joined a Lloyd’s broker – which was a natural fit. At the back of his mind, however, he said, he never lost sight of the vision he’d always had of setting up his own business and being his own boss.

It was in 2016 that Bissell set up Bissell and Partners, a boutique re/insurance broker serving the needs of higher-end, higher-ticket clients across the globe and working with a range of specialised partner brokers which operate in the same space. Recent successes enjoyed by the firm include its offering reinsurance solutions to protect Flag Carrier Airlines worldwide and its insuring of a high-profile Floating Dry Dock.

What’s happening in the reinsurance sector today?

“We operate in a very niche area of the reinsurance space, typically on the facultative reinsurance side of things,” Bissell said. “We have been looking to get more into the treaty side of things, but it takes quite a long time to develop the right relationships with the cedents around the world… It’s an interesting time to be in the reinsurance sector depending on where you are in the world. It’s amazing to see how different parts of the world are in such different stages of the reinsurance and insurance cycle.

“With our global perspective, you start to see the different patterns emerge, for instance, finding that regions like Latin America have a slightly different cycle of reinsurance and insurance needs than perhaps Europe or the US. And I would say that Lloyd’s and the London market tend to be ahead of the curve, that we’ve already spearheaded the next stage of the lifecycle, compared to the rest of the world. It’s certainly an exciting time to be in the market because there’s all sorts of opportunities out there at the moment.”

How Bissell and Partners become authorised by Lloyd’s

Throughout his re/insurance journey, Bissell never lost sight of his ambition to become part of the Lloyd’s market, a vision that was realised earlier this week when the firm announced its newly authorised status as an independent boutique Lloyd’s broker - BNP 1979 – effective March 28, 2024. The authorisation has been a whirlwind, he said, but the team are “ecstatic” to have seen the process through.

Touching on what the move means for the brokerage’s clients, he highlighted the integral role that Lloyd’s plays in the insurance market. A huge part of what Bissell and Partners does at a business is unlocking creative solutions, he said, and Lloyd’s is all about creativity. In the last few years, capacity has been tighter, which is creating changing conditions across the market which is enabling brokers to have a seat at the table with underwriters to actually thrash out some “truly unique covers”.

“That’s what we’re aiming to do,” he said. “Our philosophy at Bissell and Partners has always been that we’re not interested in taking other brokers’ business… we want to target the new business entering the market, where we can get involved with the client from the ground up and really create something unique. That’s where we see Lloyd’s fitting in with our mission and what we do. And that philosophy is shared by the people and partners we work with around the world as well.”

What’s next for Bissell and Partners?

With an eye on the future, Bissell highlighted that the agenda of his team is stacked with ambitious objectives for the year ahead, but they’re balancing those with an emphasis on business as usual. Right now, top of the list is stabilising the ship in light of its recent changes, he said, and making sure it’s positioned for long-term, profitable growth. Key to that growth will be building out its existing team with new colleagues who share its vision and mission-spirit, though in the longer-term, it will likely include international expansion plans.

“It is hard work and anyone who says it’s easy is lying to you,” he said. “You have to go through so many hoops and hurdles to get something off the ground. But when I look back to 2016, I remember thinking ‘if you’re going to do this, now’s the time to do it’. Because I think if I had gone straight into another job, things would have changed and I may never have been able to build this. You’ve got to take a leap of faith every now and then.”

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