Prudential Assurance Company



Prudential was founded as The Prudential Investment, Loan and Assurance Association on 30 May 1848 in the premises of solicitors, Hanslip & Manning, at 10 Hatton Garden, London. After having established itself in the United Kingdom, Prudential sought to expand overseas by opening its first Eastern operations in India in 1923. In Singapore, Prudential started out as an agent for fire insurance in 1924 before it attained full branch status and operated as the Prudential Assurance Company in 1931.1

Early history
Prudential Singapore’s first branch manager was L. A. Williams, who had a considerable amount of experience in insurance in Malaya.2

When the company’s operations was upgraded to full branch status, it issued its first life policy to Percy Robert Campbell. It was a 15-year policy with profits endowment assurance plan that matured in 1946 for a sum of $6,190.3

In its early years, the Chinese community was a key market for the company. One of the problems it faced initially was the translation of its English name “Prudential”, which does not have an equivalent term in Chinese. The company eventually went by the name “glorious” (保诚保险新加坡) in Mandarin.4

In 1940,  Prudential was located at 17–18 Mercantile Bank Building in 1940. Its nine agents  included companies such as Alsagoff Ltd., Hooglandt & Co. and Taik Ho & Co.5

Post-war developments
Business was interrupted by the Japanese invasion in  December 1941. Williams and his assistant, T. C. Hamlyn, were held as prisoners-of-war by the Japanese. Hamlyn died during the war, while Williams eventually recovered and returned to his post after a period of recuperation.6

When the British forces returned to Singapore, Prudential had the challenging task of reinstating its pre-war insurance policies even though premiums were not paid during the Japanese Occupation (1942–45). Fortunately, most of the records were preserved. In keeping with the company’s practice of providing help to policyholders who had suffered from misfortune, it decided to allow policyholders in Singapore and Malaya to renew their insurance policies and receive the full benefits. Similarly, claims that arose during the war were met, which relieved policyholders and their dependants from financial distress. This move boosted Prudential’s reputation tremendously.7

In the 1950s, life insurance was at its infancy, and most of the policies sold were endowment and whole life policies. At the time, a life policy for $15,000 or $20,000 was considered a large sum. People were interested in life policies as investments rather than as protection for family members after death. Life insurance agents did not emphasise the benefits of life insurance policies as death was a subject rarely talked about. Instead, focus was placed on the investment aspects of the policies.8

According to Roy Blyth, an expatriate who came to Singapore in the early 1950s to work as a manager for Prudential, many small companies were established in Singapore and Malaya during the late 1950s to conduct “life business”. These “life companies” were not issuing proper life policies and death benefits plans to the public, which violated existing actuarial principles. This prompted the government to pass a stop-gap legislation in the 1960s, which resulted in the enactment of the Insurance Act of Malaysia in 1963. The law also applied to Singapore as it was then part of Malaysia. When Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965, it enacted the Insurance Act which came into force on 1 January 1967. Comprehensive legislation in the form of the present Insurance Act was legislated later.9

Later developments
In the late 1970s to early ’80s, outlook on the development of life assurance in Malaysia and Singapore continued to be bright. Compared with more developed and industrialised nations, the percentage of the population in Malaysia and Singapore owning any form of life assurance was small. In December 1978, a new record was attained for Prudential’s Southeast Asian branch, with new businesses totalling $31.4 million, or $35.7 million inclusive of term assurances. This was the highest amount ever achieved in a single month.10

Between 1931 and 1981, some 90,000 life policies were issued through Prudential’s Southeast Asian branch, which served the various life assurance needs of the people of Singapore and Malaysia.11 In the 1980s, both countries were growing at a faster pace, personal incomes were rising and there was a steady increase in employment rate. Such factors created a favourable climate for the growth of the insurance industry.12

Prudential has continued to strengthen its presence in the insurance industry, and was one of the top three insurance companies in Singapore between 2006 and 2015. As at 31 December 2016, it has become one of the market leaders in protection, savings and investment-linked plans, with S$31.5 billion funds under management. Awards received by the company include the People Developer Award by SPRING Singapore in 2013 and 2014, NTUC Plaque of Commendation (Gold) Award in 2014, and Leading HR Practices in Lifelong Learning Award in 2015.13



Author
Kartini Saparudin



References
1. Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
2. Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
3. The Prudential Assurance Company Limited. Southeast Asia Branch. (1981, February). Half a century of service in South East Asia. Prudential Bulletin, p. 2. (Call no.: RSING 368.305 PB)
4. Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
5. Directory of Malaya [Microfilm no.: NL 3334]. (1940). Singapore: Lithographers, pp. 9, 153, 285; Directory of Malaya [Microfilm no.: NL 3335]. (1940). Singapore: Lithographers, p. 363.
6. Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
7. Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
8. Soe, M. (Ed.). (1985) The Singapore insurance industry: Historical perspective, growth and future outlook. Singapore: Singapore Insurance Training Centre, pp. 3–4. (Call no.: RSING 368.95957 SIN)
9. Soe, M. (Ed.). (1985) The Singapore insurance industry: Historical perspective, growth and future outlook. Singapore: Singapore Insurance Training Centre, pp. 3–4. (Call no.: RSING 368.95957 SIN); Republic of Singapore. Statutes of the Republic of Singapore. (2002 Rev. ed.). Insurance Act (Chapter 142). Retrieved 2017, September 21 from Singapore Statutes Online: http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;page=0;query=CompId%3Ac0a3618d-8677-4423-94d9-6c40420abb5a%20ValidTime%3A20171006000000%20TransactionTime%3A20171006000000;rec=0;resUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fstatutes.agc.gov.sg%2Faol%2Fbrowse%2FtitleResults.w3p%3Bletter%3DI%3Btype%3DactsCur;whole=yes
10. The Prudential Assurance Company Limited. Southeast Asia Branch. (1978, December). Manager’s message. Prudential Bulletin, p. 2. (Call no.: RSING 368.305 PB)
11. The Prudential Assurance Company Limited. Southeast Asia Branch. (1981, February). Half a century of service in South East Asia. Prudential Bulletin, p. 2. (Call no.: RSING 368.305 PB)
12. The Prudential Assurance Company Limited. Southeast Asia Branch. (1978, December). Manager’s message. Prudential Bulletin, p. 2. (Call no.: RSING 368.305 PB)
13. Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Limited. (2017). About us. Retrieved 2017, April 10 from Prudential website: https://www.prudential.com.sg/en/our-company/; Huang, C. (2016, December 12). When bigger is better in life insurance. The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://www.eresources.nlb.gov.sg/



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Organisations>>Companies
Insurance companies--Singapore
Business enterprises
Business, finance and industry>>Finance>>Insurance