The founder of dealership financing
In 1962, Pat Ryan founded the first finance and insurance (F&I) department at Dick Fencl Chevrolet in suburban Chicago, selling insurance on behalf of Continental Casualty Company, now the primary subsidiary of CNA Financial. This idea forever changed how auto dealerships operate.
Ryan grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was first exposed to the automotive industry while working at his father’s Ford dealership. He later graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Finance and Literature in 1959.
After graduating, Ryan joined Penn Mutual’s Chicago office as an insurance agent. He soon had the idea of including finance and insurance departments in dealerships and founded the first one in 1962 at Dick Fencl Chevrolet in suburban Chicago. The rules he established for this new and valuable profit center ensured that it became a fundamental part of dealership operations. Ryan also developed a training program that groomed licensed agents for work in the nascent F&I departments that implemented his vision.
“I put in a system where I had to see every customer,” Ryan said in a 2005 interview with Automotive News. “I offered them the dealership financing, whether they were going to go to a credit union, pay cash or go with their own bank. I asked if I could also sell them credit insurance.”
Ryan went on to form his own insurance group, Pat Ryan & Associates (later named Ryan Insurance Group) in 1964. After 18 years of exponential growth, he expanded his firm into risk management services for commercial and industrial clients and merged with Combined International, which eventually become Aon Corporation. Aon went on to become a global leader in risk management, insurance, and other products. Pat Ryan served as the chairman and CEO of Aon for 41 years until his retirement.
Said Keith Crain, chairman of Crain Communications Inc. and publisher of Automotive News: “Pat Ryan was a fixture in the automotive industry finance business for many decades and he taught most dealers the importance of F & l.”