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NEW YORK-Of all the words that could describe Patrick G. Ryan, chairman and chief executive officer of Aon Group Inc., perhaps the one most meaningful to him would be "visionary."

His insurance brokerage buying spree over the past 13 months, which touched off widespread consolidation within the industry, was in recognition of commercial buyers' increasing demands for more resources, more services, better and higher-quality advice and no redundant costs, he says.

The most recent acquisitions, which started with the October 1996 purchase of Bain Hogg Group P.L.C., also positioned Aon Group as the world's second-largest broker, with nearly $4 billion in 1996 gross revenues.

"We've created really a brokerage, insurance service and distribution organization for the 21st century," Mr. Ryan said.

For his efforts and leadership in building Aon Group, Mr. Ryan has been named The College of Insurance's 1997 Insurance Leader of the Year.

In pondering his accomplishments over his career, Mr. Ryan said he would most like to be remembered "for having a vision for knowing where the business was going and for stepping out and implementing that vision. . .to be a leader while the industry dynamically changed its course."

To be successful in leading this creation, Mr. Ryan acknowledged it requires the help of a very high-quality team; keeping that team together; and continually adding to it.

The College of Insurance honoree is selected by a committee of industry experts who do not work directly in the industry.

The criteria for the award is twofold, noted Robert Clements, chairman of the college's board of trustees and chairman of Risk Capital Reinsurance Inc. in Greenwich, Conn. The selection committee can nominate a person on the basis of an exceptional accomplishment during the year of the award or on the basis of an individual's career accomplishments, he said.

"In this case, Pat Ryan is a worthy recipient on both counts," said Mr. Clements, who was not on the selection committee.

"Pat Ryan has provided exceptional leadership in guiding Aon's remarkable growth and success as one of the most highly regarded companies in the brokerage industry," said Ellen Thrower, president of The College of Insurance in New York.

"In keeping with the spirit of the Insurance Leader of the Year Award, he truly serves as a model of leadership for our students as well as so many others throughout the world of insurance," Ms. Thrower said.

Dennis H. Chookaszian, chairman and CEO of CNA Insurance Cos. in Chicago, echoed Ms. Thrower's sentiments.

Mr. Ryan "has been one of the major influences in the insurance industry and a leader in the development of the brokerage business," said Mr. Chookaszian, who is hosting the award dinner in Mr. Ryan's honor.

He "has built a tremendously successful organization in a short period of time" and "is a role model for the type of people we want in leadership capacity in the industry," he added.

Mr. Ryan joins Lloyd's of London Chairman Sir David Rowland, who received the Insurance Leader of the Year award in 1996 (BI, Sept. 30, 1996), and New York Superintendent of Insurance Edward Muhl, who won the first award in 1995 (BI, Nov. 20, 1995).

Selection committee members were Kathryn J. McIntyre, publisher and editorial director of Business Insurance, who chaired the committee; Richard E. Stewart, chairman of Stewart Economics in Chapel Hill, N.C.; attorney George Bernstein, a former New York regulator; Peter Walker, manager of the New York office of management consultant McKinsey & Co.; and Dan Anderson, a professor of risk management and insurance at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

The Insurance Leader of the Year Award dinner honoring Mr. Ryan will be held at the Marriott Marquis in New York Jan. 29, 1998. For more information, contact Charles D. Edinger, executive vp of The College of Insurance, at 212-815-9247.