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Prudential closes Singapore wealth management arm amid global reorganisation

SINGAPORE – British insurance group Prudential PLC is closing its Singapore wealth management arm, but will leave the Hong Kong branch intact in a global reorganisation to streamline operations.

Prudential Wealth Management Singapore is a separate entity from life insurance provider Prudential Singapore.

“In executing our strategy and to ensure we offer a clear proposition to our customers, we are refocusing our wealth offerings in Singapore,” a Prudential PLC spokesman told The Straits Times.

The company declined to disclose how many employees in Singapore will be affected by the move.

The spokesman added that earlier this year, the group launched Prudential Financial Advisers, its first financial advisory firm in Singapore, which offers a wider range of products and services to customers.

This includes wealth solutions, such as unit trusts, and general insurance, including travel insurance and motor insurance. It is currently staffed by more than 100 financial advisers. 

Customers can also tap services such as estate planning, family office and tax advisory provided by its partners. 

“Wealth and investments are a core part of Prudential’s new strategy. We believe there is scope for increasing participation in wealth management propositions across our markets, including differentiated propositions for affluent customers,” he said. 

The provider of life and health insurance, as well as asset management, has been through a major transformation in recent years, shedding its businesses in the United Kingdom and the United States following pressure from shareholders to focus on faster-growing markets in Asia. 

The spokesman said the group intends to leverage its wealth capabilities across the markets, as well as investment capabilities in Eastspring.

Eastspring Investments is the group’s asset management business which manages about US$228 billion (S$310.4 billion) of assets on behalf of institutional and retail clients.

The insurance group appointed Mr Bill Maldonado as Eastspring’s chief executive officer, effective from Sept 1. Mr Maldonado reports to Prudential’s CEO Anil Wadhwani.

Mr Wadhwani, who became Prudential’s CEO in February this year, recently unveiled a new strategy following the completion of his strategic and operational review of the group.

The plan – which targets growth in Greater China, South-east Asia, India and Africa – is expected to generate 15 to 20 per cent compound annual growth in new business profit by 2027.

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For the first half of 2023, Prudential recorded a net profit of US$947 million compared with a net loss of US$1.5 billion a year ago.  

Profit contribution from Singapore fell 16 per cent to US$270 million from US$320 million, based on a constant exchange rate. The business saw higher expenses as it continued to invest in distribution capabilities and technology.  

Singapore’s overall annual premium equivalent (APE) sales – a key measure of new business sales for insurance companies – declined by 3 per cent to US$386 million, dented by the higher interest rates. Sales of health and protection products grew by 11 per cent in the first half of 2023 compared with the first half of 2022. New business profit fell 20 per cent to US$198 million.  

In other markets, Prudential’s new business sales rose 16 per cent to US$885 million in the first half of 2023. Strong double-digit growth was recorded in India, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and Africa, while Vietnam slipped. New business profit rose 9 per cent to US$316 million.

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