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Group Chief Executive's report

Strong performance based on
long-term opportunities

Mike Wells, Chief Executive

Mike Wells
Group Chief Executive

I am pleased to report significant progress in 2016, reflecting our successful strategy and the growing capabilities of the Group.

Our global scale, close understanding of our markets and constant drive to improve are continuing to create shared value for our customers and our shareholders.

Prudential exists to de-risk people’s lives. Saving for a child’s education, protecting people against the financial cost of ill-health or the death of a family’s primary income earner, turning hard-earned savings into secure retirement income – across all these areas we help to remove uncertainty from life’s biggest financial events.

Our strategy is shaped around meeting those needs where they are greatest and where we have the capabilities to make the most significant impact. That is among the increasingly affluent population of Asia, who have a growing demand for the health and protection products we provide, and the ageing populations of the US and the UK, who are looking for ways to invest their savings to produce income for retirement.

This was another year of innovation, as we continue to improve and personalise our products to ensure they are tailored to the diverse financial needs of our customers. At the same time, we remain focused on the expansion of our distinctive distribution platforms, allowing us to reach new customers and better serve existing ones. Meanwhile, we continue to develop the investment capabilities of our asset management businesses and to invest in the systems and people to manage the risks we assume on behalf of our customers. We are also sowing the seeds for our future growth by investing in new markets.

Thanh Tam and Thi Tam’s story
Prudential Vietnam

Thanh Tam and Thi Tam have held policies with Prudential Vietnam since 2004, protecting their son, Thanh Tai, and his education, their parents and their home. The premiums are low, but the policies hold very special value for the family, both financially and emotionally.

Prudential supports the family in achieving their goals, and creates investment opportunities through various loans and bonds. Prudential has been able to help the family prepare for a peaceful future, and receive protection from terminal illnesses once they reach retirement age.

Understanding that Prudential will take care of the family and protect them from the unexpected risks in life, they can live safely and peacefully.

Group performance

Prudential has delivered a strong financial performance in 2016, led by growth in Asia. In a year that has seen continued low interest rates, market volatility and dramatic political change, our results continue to benefit from the scale and diversity of the Group’s global platform, the disciplined execution of our strategy and the strength of the opportunities in our target markets.

Our operational agility and broad business mix mean we are able to continually flex our approach in response to local market conditions and opportunities without compromising our overall near-term financial performance. These characteristics have recently been particularly evident in our businesses in Asia, which continue to drive the growth of the Group and in 2016 achieved double-digit increases across all of our major metrics. This was despite pricing and product actions to protect profitability of some market segments where returns were no longer sufficiently attractive given the low-interest-rate environment. We always seek the appropriate balance between value and volume.

As in previous years, we comment on our performance in local currency terms (expressed on a constant exchange rate basis) to show the underlying business trends in a period of significant currency movements.

New business profit1,3 increased by 11 per cent2,4 to £3,088 million (up 24 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis), driven by growth of 22 per cent2 in Asia and 33 per cent4 in our UK retail business. In the US, a 13 per cent reduction in new business profit mainly reflected lower industry volumes due to the sector-wide disruption that followed the announcement in April 2016 of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary reform, the implementation of which is presently uncertain under the Trump administration.

Group IFRS operating profit6 based on longer-term investment returns was 2 per cent2 lower at £4,256 million (up 7 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis). Our businesses in Asia and the US generated growth of 15 per cent2 and 7 per cent respectively, while the contribution from our UK-based businesses reduced by 23 per cent. Here, as expected, the overall result was impacted by the effect of negative fund flows at M&G, our deliberate withdrawal from the UK bulk annuity market as returns ceased to be attractive and a lower contribution from UK capital optimisation actions. The result also includes a provision for the cost of undertaking a review in the UK of past non-advised annuity sales practices and related potential redress.

Prudential’s growing in-force business continues to support our overall cash generation. Free surplus generation3,7 rose by 10 per cent2 to £3,588 million (up 18 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis). Cash remittances to the Group were also higher at £1,718 million, supporting the 12 per cent increase in the 2016 full year ordinary dividend to 43.5 pence per share. Since 2012 Prudential has made total payments to shareholders of £4.6 billion, highlighting the underlying growth and cash-generative nature of the business.

The Group continues to operate with a strong capital position, ending the year with a Solvency II cover ratio9 of 201 per cent8. Over the period, IFRS shareholders’ funds increased by 13 per cent to £14.7 billion after taking into account profit after tax of £1,921 million (2015: £2,579 million on an actual exchange rate basis) and other movements including positive foreign exchange movements of £1.2 billion. EEV shareholders’ funds increased by 22 per cent to £39.0 billion, equivalent to 1,510 pence per share.

During 2016, we have strengthened our position as a diversified global Group, delivering long-term value to customers and shareholders.

In Asia, we are developing our operations, through the quality of our business and through our scale. Underpinning the outlook for Asia earnings, our new regular-premium income is up 20 per cent to £3,359 million and life in-force weighted premium income is up 20 per cent to £9.1 billion. In addition, our Asian asset manager, Eastspring Investments, has grown, with overall assets under management reaching £117.9 billion at the year end, a new high.

In the US we are well positioned to navigate a period of significant regulatory change, including the currently scheduled introduction of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary duty rule. The product innovation that is in train to address the new regulatory requirements, coupled with our sector-leading IT and servicing capabilities, enables us to access sizeable retirement asset pools that were previously not open to Jackson. The demographic shift occurring in the US is a significant long-term driver of demand for the types of products that we offer. In 2016, through this period of disruption, Jackson’s separate account assets relating to its variable annuity business, and the main driver of earnings, increased by 11 per cent to US$148.8 billion.

In the UK, where we are seeing a large amount of change in the marketplace along with the introduction of new capital rules, we are also adapting well. PruFund sales growth continues to outperform the market, and our retail sales are now higher than before the Retail Distribution Review. During this period of change we remain focused on delivering high-quality products to meet our customers’ evolving needs. The FCA’s thematic review of non-advised annuity sales practices showed that, in a portion of annuity sales that the UK business made since July 2008, it was not adequately explained to customers that they may have been eligible for an enhanced annuity. We are continuing to work to ensure we put things right.

Also in the UK, at M&G, we are focused on careful management of costs and improving performance. In 2016, assets managed by M&G on behalf of external clients increased by 8 per cent to £137 billion, with internal assets taking the total to £265 billion (2015: £246 billion).

We have made good progress towards our 2017 objectives, which we announced in December 2013. Asia life and asset management pre-tax operating profit has grown at a compound annual rate of 17 per cent over the period 2012 to 2016. We are therefore on track to meet the objective of growing this measure at a compound annual rate of at least 15 per cent over the period 2012 to 2017. In 2016, Asia delivered underlying free surplus generation of £859 million, demonstrating that we are on course to meet the objective of £900 million to £1.1 billion for full-year 2017. Collectively the Group has so far delivered underlying free surplus generation from the beginning of 2014 to 2016 of £9.2 billion, close to our objective for the period 2014 to the end of 2017 of at least £10 billion.

Diversification advantage

IFRS operating profit*6 by business and currency, full year 2016

Our broad diversification by geography, products and distribution channels remains a primary source of strength and resilience for the Group’s earnings.

Pie chart: IFRS operating profit by business and currency, full year 2016

* Segmental earnings of key businesses and excludes Prudential Capital and other income and expenditure

Our strategy

We have a clear, consistent strategy focused on three parts of the world where the needs of customers for the products we provide are not fully met.

In Asia we aim to meet the savings, accumulation, health and protection needs of the fast-growing and increasingly affluent middle class. As this group of people grows, so does their demand for goods and services. As an example, three-quarters of China’s total population is forecast to be defined as middle income by 2030. The growing purchasing power of this section of the society is evident today. To illustrate, 60 million people left China for leisure travel purposes in 2011, but by last year this had doubled to 120 million and by 2020 is expected to top 200 million. Similarly last year Asian consumers bought around half of all the cars sold in the world, up from an average of less than 20 per cent during the 1990s.

The region’s consumer spending growth is remarkable, but what is closest to the hearts of people in Asia, as anywhere else, is providing a secure and more prosperous future for their loved ones. This is creating a powerful – and largely unmet – demand for the products we provide. Asia has low insurance penetration, high out-of-pocket healthcare spend and rapidly growing private wealth. The working age population in the region is predicted to rise by 178 million by 2030. Mutual fund penetration rates are currently just 12 per cent in Asia, compared with 75 per cent in Europe and 96 per cent in the US, and there is a significant mortality protection gap.

We are a leading pan-regional franchise in Asia, we hold top-three positions in nine of our 12 life markets in the region, and we are the number one Asian retail asset manager10. We have the presence, scale, distribution and product capabilities to tap into the growing needs of our Asian customers.

The US is the largest11 retirement savings market in the world, and over the next 20 years Americans will be retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day12. At the same time, private defined-benefit pension plans are disappearing and government plans are underfunded, life expectancy at age 65 has increased significantly, and individual investors struggle to capture returns and are exposed to volatile equity markets. The confluence of these trends is precipitating an expansion of the retirement market and a flight to quality that is aligned with Jackson’s capabilities.

In the UK, an ageing population that does not have enough saved for the future is driving increasing demand for savings and retirement income products, and this demand has been reinforced by the pensions freedom changes. This is creating significant opportunities for our UK businesses that both Prudential UK and M&G are addressing through their long-term savings solutions and investment strategies.

Our capabilities

We believe we have a great strategy, but any strategy is only as good as its implementation. We are executing our strategy with discipline and continually developing our capabilities.

Across our markets, we are constantly innovating to improve the way we do business. During 2016, we added a number of new products and services to the successful range we offer around the world. In Asia, to take just two examples, Prudential Singapore became the first insurer in its market to launch an online community portal, where customers can share ideas and suggestions to help us improve our products and services, and Prudential Hong Kong gave customers access to an innovative DNA-based health and nutrition programme, demonstrating how we are building our capabilities to partner with customers to help improve their long-term health and well-being. We also expanded our reach in the region during 2016, by launching a new operation in Laos.

In the US, Jackson launched its first fee-based variable annuity, designed to meet the need for products compatible with the Department of Labor’s fiduciary duty rule. In the UK retail market we introduced the Prudential Retirement Account, an online account-based plan that offers both accumulation and decumulation for customers near retirement and has proved extremely popular. M&G added a number of new funds, including its Global Target Return Fund and Absolute Return Bond Fund, helping customers deal with market volatility.

Our distribution capability is another of our key strengths. In 2016, we made good progress in improving our distribution platform throughout our markets. In Asia, productivity within our network of agents improved, with average case sizes rising by 30 per cent14. The total number of agents across all our Asian markets is more than 500,000. We also continued to leverage the strength of our relationships with our bank partners, which has allowed us to ensure the appropriate balance between value and volume. We have access to more than 10,000 active bank branches through a total of three regional, five strategic and a variety of local partnerships. In the US, our variable annuity wholesale distribution platform is now more than 60 per cent larger13 than that of our nearest competitor, and our wholesaler productivity is 24 per cent greater13.

In the UK, the number of our adviser firms has grown by 37 per cent since 2013, and Prudential Financial Planning, our UK advisory business, has grown to become a top-10 UK advisory business, from its inception in 2012. In 2016 M&G, whose products are now registered in 23 jurisdictions around the world, established a new SICAV fund range in Luxembourg as a platform for future international distribution. At the same time, we entered Zambia, our fourth market in Africa. In less than three years, we have built our African business to the point where it has 1,750 agents, is active in 181 bank branches and has over 160,000 customers, with a further 1.5 million micro-insurance customers through partnerships with mobile phone operators and micro-finance institutions.

Our proven investment performance track record is another vital part of our capability. Across our asset management businesses we offer a range of funds that give investors the opportunity to benefit from a long-term, diversified approach, helping to deliver sustainable investment performance regardless of short-term market fluctuations. M&G has a long-standing track record of superior investment performance, with 85 per cent15 of retail assets under management above median over the tenure of the fund manager. Likewise, the proportion of Eastspring’s funds outperforming the median on a three-year period basis was 65 per cent16. In the UK, over the last 10 years our highly regarded PruFund investment option has delivered growth of 75 per cent, compared with a total return of 39 per cent for a benchmark ABI mixed investment fund. In the US, the number of funds within Jackson’s living benefit variable annuity product that delivered a three-year annualised return, over the period 2014 to 2016, of over 7 per cent was twice the number of funds within the top 12 peer products combined5.

We are also using the Group’s scale to improve our risk management capabilities, including investing in new technology. In 2016 this included commencing implementation of Aladdin, a global risk and portfolio management platform for our asset management businesses, which will help to simplify reporting systems and support future growth.

Prudential's Group Executive Committee

Prudential’s Group Executive Committee

Mike Wells is advised and assisted by the Group Executive Committee, which comprises the heads of our four business units and a team of functional specialists. The members of the Group Executive Committee and their roles are set out on How to contact us.

Standing, left to right: Tim Rolfe, Julian Adams, Al-Noor Ramji, John Foley, Anne Richards, Jonathan Oliver, Raghu Hariharan, Alan Porter. Seated, left to right: Barry Stowe, Penny James, Mike Wells, Nic Nicandrou, Tony Wilkey.

Our outlook

Our growth prospects are based on clear long-term opportunities in the three markets we are targeting. There are historic demographic shifts taking place in these economies, and we are focused on ensuring that our capabilities develop in line with the evolving needs and preferences of our customers.

We have demonstrated our ability to manage through times of economic uncertainty and market volatility, conditions that appear likely to prevail for some time. Our strategy is clear, the demand from customers for our products is strong and our execution is good and getting better. We are well positioned to continue to deliver value for both our customers and our shareholders.


  1. Embedded value reporting provides investors with a measure of the future profit streams of the Group. The EEV basis results have been prepared in accordance with EEV principles discussed in note 1 of EEV basis results. A reconciliation between IFRS and the EEV shareholder funds is included in note II(h) of Additional unaudited financial information.
  2. Following its reclassification to held for sale during 2016, operating results exclude the contribution of the Korea life business. The 2015 comparative results have been similarly adjusted.
  3. The 2016 EEV basis results for UK insurance operations have been prepared on a basis that reflects the Solvency II regime, effective from 1 January 2016. The 2015 comparative results for UK insurance reflect the Solvency I basis.
  4. Excluding UK bulk annuities as Prudential has withdrawn from this market.
  5. Jackson analysis based upon Morningstar fund performance information as at 4Q YTD 2016, ranked by sales as of end Q3 2016. ©2017 Morningstar Inc. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete, or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Morningstar
  6. IFRS operating profit is management’s primary measure of profitability and provides an underlying operating result based on longer-term investment returns and excludes non-operating items. Further information on its definition and reconciliation to profit for the period is set out in note B1 of the IFRS financial statements.
  7. Underlying free surplus generated comprises underlying free surplus generated from the Group’s long-term business (net of investment in new business) and that generated from asset management operations. Further information is set out in notes 9 of the EEV basis results.
  8. Estimated before allowing for second interim ordinary dividend.
  9. The Group Solvency II surplus represents the shareholder capital position excluding the contribution to Own Funds and the Solvency Capital Requirement from ring-fenced with-profits funds and staff pension schemes in surplus. The estimated solvency position includes the impact of recalculated transitionals at the valuation date, which has reduced the Group shareholder surplus from £12.9 billion to £12.5 billion. The formal Quantitative Reporting Templates (Solvency II regulatory templates) will include transitional measures without this recalculation.
  10. Source: Asia asset management September 2016 (Ranked according to participating regional players only). Based on assets sourced from the region, excluding Japan, Australia and New Zealand as at June 2016.
  11. Cerulli Associates – Advisor Metrics 2016.
  12. Social Security Administration, Annual Performance Plan for FY 2012 and Revised Final Performance Plan for FY 2011.
  13. Market Metrics – Variable Annuity Sales, Staffing and Productivity Report: Q3 2016.
  14. Excluding India.
  15. Investment performance is to 31 December 2016 and reflects 33 retail funds, representing 85 per cent of M&G retail funds under management, which have delivered top or upper quartile performance over fund manager tenure which is an average of six years. Quartile rankings are based on returns which are net of fees.
  16. Blended score representing 50 per cent by number of funds and 50 per cent assets under management outperforming benchmark or in top two quartiles over three-year period.

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