Pete Chandler, CEO, BMS Re
BMS Re began 2021 with a spate of acquisitions as the broker looked to expand its presence in key markets. The firm’s CEO Pete Chandler sat down in the Re/insurance Lounge to discuss how the Bermuda market fits into that vision.
BMS Re is not sitting on its laurels. While the pandemic has roiled the industry, the broker has been steadily growing, most notably with the acquisition of Trean, the Minnesota-based reinsurance intermediary which BMS Re jointly founded with the firm’s president Sean Ryan back in 2013.
The company has a long-established presence in the key re/insurance markets of the US and London but has had a lower profile in Bermuda—something chief executive officer Pete Chandler is keen to address.
Speaking to the Re/Insurance Lounge, sister publication Intelligent Insurer’s online, on-demand platform for interviews and panel discussions with leaders in the industry, Chandler outlined his vision for how the company is approaching the market on the Island.
“Conversations are about putting our clients at the centre of our universe and everything that we do collectively.” Pete Chandler, BMS Re
A new player on the block
BMS Re is a well-known name in London, New York, Chicago and elsewhere, but Chandler is determined that it will become a major player in Bermuda as well.
“We’re going to plant the flag in Bermuda and the treaty side on the reinsurance side. We’re looking forward to being participants in that incredible marketplace, which is long overdue. But we’re excited too, we are doing some wonderful things in the legacy space and in the faculty space,” he said.
However, Chandler is quick to point out that the industry hub in London will continue to play a key role in the company’s expansion plans, in addition to the moves it is making in the US.
The company transacts business across the Atlantic, and Chandler said that its presence on both sides of the pond was a crucial differentiating factor against its competitors.
“It is even more important to work across the Atlantic, and engage our colleagues in the UK with US-based business and vice versa—where there is a reverse flow of opportunities that come back into the US. To me, that’s an absolute differentiator,” he added.
Despite his ambitious expansion plans, Chandler is aware of the importance of maintaining the unified and centralised structure of BMS Re.
With operations stretching from the US to the UK and from Asia to Bermuda, it can be easy for various centres and competing interests to cause friction that doesn’t translate directly into client value—a phenomenon that Chandler believes BMS Re avoids because of its unified profit and loss (P&L) accounts.
“We have one P&L—I know everybody talks about that, and everyone says we only have one P&L, but it’s true, that’s it,” he said.
“It eliminates sharp elbows. It eliminates the words ‘me, mine and I’. Instead, conversations are about putting our clients at the centre of our universe and everything that we do collectively, regardless of where the resources reside geographically within the BMS organisation.”
“I do believe we have a bit of an identity crisis in the US.”
The company has grown substantially with the acquisition of Trean in July, adding another 65 professionals to the business, focusing on workers’ compensation, property and casualty, accident and health, personal auto, public entity, and professional liability lines.
The acquisition will substantially expand BMS Re’s presence in key US markets including Florida and Los Angeles, and Chandler says that the addition of Trean alongside other expansive moves marks a statement of intent for the firm in the US.
The company has long-standing ties to the London re/insurance market, but Chandler says that historically it has struggled to find its place in the fragmented and competitive US marketplace.
“I do believe we have a bit of an identity crisis in the US. We haven’t done a great job of letting people know who we are and what we stand for. And that’s an opportunity we cherish, to show that we are much more active in the request for approval process than we ever have been in the life of BMS Re in the US.”
In addition to helping BMS Re make further inroads into the US market, the Trean acquisition was also a signal of the firm’s ambitions to join the upper echelons of the reinsurance broking world to compete alongside the biggest players in the industry.
Chandler said that the addition of Trean would take annual revenues over the $100 million mark, a level which he said acted almost as a “cover charge” to compete for the largest accounts. He plans to take BMS Re forward into those parts of the industry in the future.
“We want to be able to display that we have the wherewithal—human, financial, analytics, and otherwise—to compete on every playing field in every class of business. Quite candidly, we know for a fact we’re not there yet,” he said.
“Therefore, this is an opportunity for us to take a massive step forward. It puts us in a position where the easiest way to answer the question is based on the top and bottom lines.”
Time will tell whether Chandler’s lofty ambitions can be met, but with new firepower and a strong executive team pushing into new markets geographically and by class of business, no-one should be surprised to see BMS Re claim its seat at the top table in the years to come.
To view the full Re/insurance Lounge session click here
BMS Re, COVID-19, Acquisition, Insurance, Reinsurance, Pete Chandler, Sean Ryan, Bermuda, Europe