Prudential was founded in 1848 to provide professional people with loans secured by life assurance. This market broadened during the second half of the nineteenth century with the opening of the Industrial Branch, which sold insurance policies for weekly premiums of a penny upward to the working classes through a network of agents.
The company was established as The Prudential Mutual Assurance Investment and Loan Association. This was shortened after a series of acquisitions to The Prudential Assurance Company (PAC) in 1867.
PAC became a limited company in 1881, following the Limited Liability Act (1880). At this time the company was owned by fewer than 100 shareholders and most of these were related to the directors.
Prudential grew rapidly and by the 1900s the company insured one third of the UK population.
New policies for single women, family and home protection were introduced following the First World War. Prudential shares were floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1924, and a further range of products was initiated in 1929 with the establishment of group pensions.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Prudential focused on life cover, long-term savings products and retirement annuities. By the 1970s Prudential had established a wide range of assurance, investment and savings products.
Today, Prudential’s business in the UK has approximately 6 million customers and focuses on pensions, savings and investments along with providing retirement income through its successful annuities business.