Ryan: Specialty Skills Key to Success

Patrick G. Ryan, when he was chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016, speaks during the city's bid presentation in Copenhagen, Oct. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) Patrick G. Ryan, when he was chairman and CEO of Chicago 2016, speaks during the city's bid presentation in Copenhagen, Oct. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

NU Online News Service, Feb. 17, 10:11 a.m. EST

NEW YORK—Develop a specialty in the insurance business and you will never have to worry about staying employed, declared Patrick G. Ryan, the founder and former chief executive of the insurance-brokerage firm Aon in an address in New York yesterday.

Speaking at the 16th Annual Industry Leaders Luncheon sponsored by the Eastern Chapter of PLUS (Professional Liability Underwriting Society), Ryan, current chairman and chief executive officer of Ryan Specialty Group, LLC, says the insurance industry remains “a great industry” offering lots of opportunities for individual success for budding entrepreneurs.

Ryan founded the wholesale brokerage firm RSG in 2010 after a brief retirement.

He says he started up RSG because the insurance industry continues to offer an entrepreneur great opportunities, and being an entrepreneur himself, he could not escape the pull of starting a new business again.

Timing was not an issue, he says, reasoning that “the best time to do it is now because you can’t pick your opportunity in life when to start a business.”

He says another driving force is the appeal of doing something that has “a powerful impact” to benefit others. Without insurance, he continues, commerce would not have developed to the global scale it has today and “I like the idea of having an impact on what we do in life.”

Because insurance is a creative industry that aims to solve the problems behind risk, it must attract great talent, he says, and that is the heart of any organization. He says that “the quality of talent” is also how brokers differentiate themselves in the eyes of their clients.

Ryan says his heart has always been in specialization, and that is why he is where he is today. He advised producers that if they are good at what they do, they should evolve their talent into developing a specialty and “you will be employed forever.”

Communication is another key component to success, he says, which means that producers need to be good listeners. Being a good listener is a major factor in changing minds, he observes.

“You can sell to anyone if you listen and address their concerns,” says Ryan.

He says these characteristic foundations for any producer go into making the culture of an organization.

Speaking to NU Online News Service after his address, Ryan says he does not think the insurance marketplace is going through any dramatic pricing change yet and that it is too early in the cycle for that happen. He also notes that there is too much capacity remaining in markets.

For the most part, pricing remains great for clients, but free markets still determine if clients with severe loss history will get significant price hikes, he says.

When asked about Aon’s announcement that it is planning to move toLondon, he says he has no opinion.

He had the same response to the announcement that Willis Group Holdings would begin to accept contingent commissions on employee benefits business. Willis made the announcement Wednesday during its earnings report, saying that changes in compensation structure from health-care reform made it necessary to do so in order to remain profitable. 

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