Fred Bartlett, the late father of chairman Michael Bartlett, opened the business in 1940 from a garret office in Bradford with just himself and a secretary.
Today the company places global insurance programmes for more than 5,000 clients across 45 countries.
Mr Bartlett said: “Although Fred was brought up in Leeds, he had established in 1937 an office in Bradford for Scott North, a Lloyd’s broker. It was the successful buyout of that business that formed the nucleus of his own company.
“Times were hard. It was shortly after the Battle of Britain and some months before the Americans entered the war. Competition between insurers and Lloyd’s underwriters had been forbidden in the wartime conditions, but Fred showed an innovative flair for developing business.
“For example, he persuaded the taxi drivers outside Bradford’s then Victoria Station to form themselves into an Association of Taxi Drivers so that he could negotiate group terms on their behalf. Similar arrangements were made in Leeds wholesale market where he could be found at 6am entertaining the market stall holders to a mug of tea while persuading them of the benefits of using an insurance broker.”
Mr Bartlett senior also arranged a significant amount of war risks insurance, which was underwritten by the Government of the day. The company prospered and moved several times to larger premises in Bradford before relocating to Horsforth in 1967, following the purchase of Broadway Hall the previous year.
In 1965 Bartlett established its own life assurance and employee benefits company – now known as Bartlett Wealth Management – which has since become an important part of the group’s business. Michael Bartlett, who had joined the company in 1963, was appointed managing director in 1985, and on the death of his father in 1996 he moved to the position of chairman.
In 1997 the company established its first overseas office, in Philadelphia. This was followed by subsidiaries in Germany, Hong Kong, Holland and France and most recently in East Africa and Australia. In 2012 Bartlett became a Lloyd’s Broker.
Mr Bartlett’s sons Andrew and Richard are now closely involved in the running of the business.