This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more about cookies

close

Group Chief Executive’s report

Producing profitable growth
over the long term


“The Group delivered double-digit
growth across our key metrics of
IFRS operating profit, new
business profit and cash.”

Tidjane Thiam
Group Chief Executive

Tidjane Thiam, Group Chief Executive

I am pleased to report that Prudential delivered a strong, broad-based performance in 2014. Our core strategy of focusing on the three main opportunities available to us in Asia, the US and the UK – serving the protection and investment needs of the growing middle class in Asia, providing income in retirement to American baby boomers and meeting the financial needs of an ageing British population – is unchanged. It continues to serve us well.

The execution of this strategy, driven by the operating principles set out in 2009, is central to the Group's continued success and reflects the dedication and quality of our people and their focus on meeting the distinct needs of our customers across the business. This has been one of the key factors enabling Prudential to outperform in the markets in which it competes, delivering value for our customers and sustainable returns for our shareholders.


£3,186m IFRS operating profit

14% increase1 on 2013


Open all

Currency volatility

The last two years have seen significant fluctuations in the value of sterling against the local currencies in the US and in some of our key markets in Asia. This has been driven by ongoing speculation about the relative growth trajectories in the world’s major economies, together with often divergent views on the timing, extent and effectiveness of government and central bank intervention. While sterling strengthened significantly in the second half of 2013, driven by expectations that a stronger recovery of the UK economy would lead to an earlier shift in UK monetary policy, the latter part of 2014 has seen a partial reversal of this movement as the relative outlook improved in other areas of the global economy, particularly in the US. However, the negative impact of sterling strength in late 2013 and early 2014 on the financial performance of our overseas businesses is recognised mainly in 2014, as we use average actual exchange rates to report our results in sterling.

In that context, it is important to note that the actual flows that we collect from our customers in Asia and the US are received in local currency. We believe that in periods of currency volatility, the most appropriate way to assess the actual performance of these businesses is to look at what they have achieved on a local currency basis, in other words in terms of the actual flows they have collected, rather than the translation of those flows into sterling. Therefore, in this section, every time we comment on the performance of our businesses, we focus on their performance measured in local currency (presented here by reference to percentage growth expressed at constant exchange rates) unless otherwise stated.

 

Group performance 1

The Group delivered double-digit growth across our key metrics of IFRS operating profit, new business profit and cash, with all four of our business units delivering good performance in challenging operating conditions.

Our Group IFRS operating profit based on longer-term investment returns increased by 14 per cent during the year to £3,186 million.

  • Asia life and asset management operating profit was up 17 per cent to £1,140 million. Our ability to proactively manage our diverse portfolio of businesses at the regional level has enabled us to partially offset the short-term headwinds experienced in a few of our key Asia markets. Strong external net inflows of £5.4 billion and positive market movements have driven operating profit and total funds under management to record levels at Eastspring, our Asia-based asset management business;
  • US life IFRS operating profit increased 21 per cent to £1,431 million. The strong variable annuity inflows we have been able to capture at attractive margins generate higher levels of fee income. This, combined with favourable market movements, increased the value of separate account assets, a key driver of our profits in the US;
  • UK life IFRS operating profit grew by 7 per cent to £752 million, benefiting from higher contributions from bulk annuities, which outweighed the impact of significantly lower sales of individual annuities following UK market reforms; and

  • M&G delivered operating profit of £488 million2, an increase of 11 per cent, reflecting continued strong third-party net inflows combined with favourable market movements in the period, which together have increased M&G’s external funds under management by £11.0 billion to a record £137.0 billion.

Our strategy and operating principles

Areas of operations diagram

The Group’s strategy remains unchanged and is focused on capturing three long-term opportunities:

  • The significant protection gap and investment needs of the Asian middle class;
  • The transition of US baby boomers into retirement; and
  • The UK ‘savings gap’ and ageing population in need of returns and income.

Our disciplined execution of this strategy has continued to drive profitable growth and higher cash generation, underlining our commitment to delivering both ‘Growth and Cash’.

Read more: Our strategy and operating principles

Net cash remittances from our businesses increased by 11 per cent to £1,482 million, driven by strong organic cash generation and supported by robust local capital positions. Cash remittances of £400 million from Asia were consistent with 2013, the US was up 41 per cent to a record of £415 million, the UK remitted cash of £325 million, as we have been increasing our level of investment in the business in response to the UK market reforms, while M&G (including Prudential Capital) delivered an increase of 17 per cent to a new high of £342 million. Such levels of cash generation are the bedrock of our financial strength. Underlying free surplus generation from our life and asset management businesses, a key indicator of cash production in these businesses, was 9 per cent higher at £2,579 million after reinvestment in new business. We deliberately run the Group to seek to generate organically significant amounts of cash in each of our businesses. The successful implementation of this approach gives us added strategic and financial flexibility, as illustrated by our ability to agree a new deal with Standard Chartered Bank in 2014. The ability of the Group to generate both growth and cash remains a distinctive feature of Prudential in our industry.


£2,126m EEV new business profit

10% increase1 on 2013


£2,579m underlying free surplus generation

9% increase1 on 2013


 

New business profit3 was up 10 per cent to £2,126 million, driven in 2014 by a combination of higher volumes and pricing and product actions aimed at enhancing profitability. All three of our life businesses made strong contributions, with new business profits from Asia growing by 13 per cent to £1,162 million, the US delivering £694 million, up 4 per cent, and the UK reporting £270 million, up 14 per cent.

APE sales4 increased by 12 per cent to £4,650 million. In Asia, APE sales were 15 per cent higher at £2,237 million with APE sales from our ‘sweet spot’ markets5 continuing to be a strong driver of growth. In the US, APE sales were up 4 per cent at £1,556 million as we continued to proactively manage our sales of variable annuities with guarantees. We continue to diversify our product mix with sales of Elite Access, our innovative variable annuity without guarantees, increasing by 26 per cent and contributing to an increase in the proportion of variable annuities sold without living benefit guarantees to 34 per cent of total variable annuity sales. In the UK, APE sales grew by 18 per cent to £857 million, reflecting strong bulk annuity and investment bond volumes which offset the significant contraction of the retail annuity market that followed the Budget reform. M&G delivered net inflows of £7.1 billion (2013: £9.5 billion) as it continued to benefit from high levels of retail sales from Continental Europe, while Eastspring Investments, our Asia asset management business, delivered record third-party net inflows of £5.4 billion (2013: £1.4 billion, on a constant exchange rate basis).

Our balance sheet continues to be defensively positioned and at the end of the period our Insurance Groups Directive (IGD) surplus6 was estimated at £4.7 billion, equating to coverage of 2.4 times.


£4.7bn estimated IGD capital surplus

covering capital requirements 2.4 times


 

We are continuing to make solid progress towards our 2017 objectives announced in December 2013 as for the Asia objectives, we have now passed four half-year reporting periods out of the 10 half-year reporting periods of this programme.

Read more: Chief Financial Officer's report on our 2014 financial performance

 

2017 objectives *

Asia objectives

1. Asia IFRS operating profit

Asia life and asset management pre-tax IFRS operating profit to grow at a compound annual rate of at least 15 per cent over the period 2012–2017 (2012: £924 million8)

2012: £924m; 2013: £1,075m; 2014: £1,140m; 2017 objective: £1,858m

2. Asia underlying free surplus

Asia underlying free surplus generation7 of £0.9 billion to £1.1 billion in 2017 (2012: £484 million)

2012: £484m; 2013: £573m; 2014: £592m; 2017 objective: £0.9m, £1.1bn

Group objective

3. Group cumulative underlying free surplus

Cumulative Group underlying free surplus generation of at least £10 billion over the four-year period from 2014 to end-2017

2014-2017 objective: greater than £2.6bn, greater than £10bn

* The objectives assume exchange rates at December 2013 and economic assumptions made by Prudential in calculating the EEV basis supplementary information for the half year ended 30 June 2013, and are based on regulatory and solvency regimes applicable across the Group at the time the objectives were set. The objectives assume that the existing EEV, IFRS and free surplus methodology at December 2013 will be applicable over the period.

Our operating performance by business unit

Asia

Asia delivered excellent results across all metrics during 2014. IFRS operating profit of £1,140 million was up 17 per cent over 2013 (6 per cent on actual exchange rate basis) and free surplus generation increased 15 per cent to £592 million (3 per cent on actual exchange rate basis), reflecting our discipline and our focus on quality growth and value creation. Net cash remittances were £400 million, in line with 2013.

Our consistent delivery in Asia is underpinned by our focus on regular premium, protection-orientated solutions that genuinely address the long-term financial needs of Asia’s growing middle classes in the ‘sweet spot’ markets5 of South-east Asia and Hong Kong. Our strategy is to be strongly diversified in terms of geography, products and distribution in a world economy that is increasingly hard to predict. That diversification is at the heart of our ability to continue to perform well across a broad range of metrics as the breadth of our portfolio provides considerable resilience against the impacts of short-term market disturbances in individual countries, such as the elections and natural disasters experienced during 2014.

Our multichannel distribution platform continues to play a key role in our strategy:

  • In the agency channel we continued to add to the existing scale of our platform during 2014 through recruitment. In parallel we also improved individual productivity, thanks to our investments in agency management technology and analytics; and
  • Regarding our bank partnerships, we announced in the first quarter that we extended and expanded our long-established and market-leading partnership with Standard Chartered Bank for another 15 years to 2029, effective since July 2014. Encouragingly, second-half APE sales via Standard Chartered Bank grew over 33 per cent compared to the same period in 2013, including a record month in December. The distribution channel mix remained in line with prior year, with agency generating 61 per cent, bancassurance 32 per cent and other channels, mainly direct and telemarketing, 7 per cent.

In our product portfolio, the proportion of protection business has remained consistent with prior years at 28 per cent of APE sales. Within the savings products, we have seen an increase in participating business, driven mainly by strong demand for our established with-profits products in Hong Kong. We continue to innovate with new benefits and features, with more than 25 per cent of APE sales in 2014 from products that were launched in the past two years.

While product innovations are important we are increasingly finding that customer service is a key differentiator in the marketplace, an evolution we welcome given the emphasis we have always placed on service and customer satisfaction. For example, our pioneering PRUhospital Friend concierge service in Indonesia is now four years old and has been extended to 49 hospitals covering 15 cities. It handles over 50 per cent of all protection claims. In Singapore, PRUhealthcare assist is the first-to-market dedicated hotline, staffed by experts who help customers to decide what treatments to pursue and which hospitals to use. Across the region, our success in looking after our customers and anticipating their needs is demonstrated by our ‘repeat sales’ to our existing customers: more than 40 per cent of new business APE sales in 2014 were generated by existing customers and our customer retention rate was over 90 per cent, a very important indicator of quality for us. The incentives of our staff in Asia are well aligned with this philosophy of emphasising quality growth and customer satisfaction.

In 2014 we produced £1,162 million of new business profit, 13 per cent higher than 2013, reflecting our continued progress in Asia.

In Hong Kong, APE sales grew 39 per cent, driven mainly by increases in agency headcount as well as increases in productivity. Hong Kong also directly benefited from significantly improved second-half sales following the renewal of the Standard Chartered Bank partnership. We have been working for a few years on increasing the proportion of protection sales in Hong Kong and this has paid off in 2014, contributing to a strong sales increase of 50 per cent. The Hong Kong branch of the Prudential Assurance Company was successfully domesticated with effect from 1 January 2014.

In Singapore, we continue to lead the market with our popular regular premium and PRUshield products. Agency APE sales grew by 16 per cent as a result of increases in manpower and productivity. Bancassurance sales volumes were impacted by the cessation of the Maybank partnership during 2014, although volumes increased from our successful partnerships with Standard Chartered Bank and United Overseas Bank (‘UOB’).

Indonesia had a challenging year, with exceptional flooding disrupting sales in the first quarter, and the transition to a new president impacting sentiment during the year. Although APE sales were down 4 per cent on prior year, the resilience of our business is demonstrated by our significant market outperformance, which has seen our market share increased to 24 per cent9 as other providers were more severely affected by these factors than we were. We remain very optimistic about the outlook for the Indonesian economy and we experienced an encouraging rebound in activity during December 2014, with APE sales 36 per cent higher than November, passing the 1 trillion rupiah level for the first time.

In Malaysia, our decision to refocus our agency business on health and protection and to grow distribution by Bumiputra agents (‘Bumi’), delivered an encouraging 17 per cent increase in agency activity. The overall increase in APE sales of 6 per cent during 2014 reflects structurally lower average case sizes in the Bumi channel, where we are determined to grow in the next phase of development of our strategy in the country. We deliberately de-emphasised sales of some top-up products that negatively impacted top-line growth – an indicator which for us always comes second to growth in new business profit. Finally, fuel reforms and the prospect of the introduction of a new goods and services tax generated market uncertainty, which weighed on the economy and on our sector.

Thailand includes the first full year of operation of our exclusive bancassurance agreement with Thanachart Bank, which together with our other bancassurance partners, UOB and Standard Chartered Bank, has driven a 36 per cent increase in APE sales. The transformation of our business in the Philippines is continuing, with a significant increase in agency activity. Reflecting this, regular premium sales were up 30 per cent on prior year and protection business increased by 36 per cent. Vietnam also had a good year, growing APE sales by 20 per cent on higher levels of agency activity.

Our joint venture with CITIC in China continues to perform well, with APE sales increasing by 35 per cent, with progress in both the agency and bank channels. In India our joint venture with ICICI Bank remains the leader in the private sector with a market share of 10 per cent, and post-elections in May we have seen a significant increase in new business.

In Taiwan and Korea we remain selective in our participation and as a result we are content to experience fluctuations in new business volumes. Both businesses have generated higher IFRS operating profit in 2014.

In addition to running these established businesses, we continue to keep an eye on the future and are setting foundations for growth in new markets. Following the successful launch of our life business in Cambodia in 2013, we are now the market leader. We also opened a representative office in Myanmar during 2014 and recently received a licence for a representative office in Laos.

In 2014, Asia EEV life operating profit3 increased by 12 per cent to £1,900 million, largely as a result of the growth in new business profit and a 10 per cent increase in the contribution from the larger in-force book.

Eastspring Investments, our Asia asset management business, generated record third-party net inflows of £5.4 billion, 3.8 times higher than in 2013, with success in securing new equity flows, particularly from institutional clients, mitigating lower net inflows in fixed income. Including internal funds, total funds under management as at 31 December 2014 were a record £77.3 billion, up 28 per cent on the prior year as a result of net inflows and positive market movements. IFRS operating profit increased 32 per cent to £90 million, driven by the positive impact on revenue from higher levels of average assets under management.

Read more: Our businesses and their performance - Asia

US

Our US business delivered a strong performance in 2014, with total IFRS operating profit of £1,443 million, up 17 per cent (11 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis). Jackson’s life IFRS operating profit grew 21 per cent (15 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis) to £1,431 million, driven primarily by increased fee income from higher levels of separate account assets. The growth in operating profit underpinned significant levels of capital generation in the period, enabling Jackson to remit a record £415 million of cash to the Group (2013: £294 million), while maintaining a healthy balance sheet. Jackson’s risk-based capital ratio at the end of 2014 was 456 per cent, compared to 450 per cent at the end of 2013.

During 2014, the US continued to see signs of an improving economy, with declining unemployment rates, evidence of recovery in the housing market and stronger GDP growth. The S&P 500 Index rose 11 per cent and the 10-year Treasury rate remained above the 2012 low levels, but declined significantly during the course of the year. Overall, the US competitive landscape has been more stable than in recent periods, as most annuity writers appear to have committed to a particular course of action for the near term. Variable annuity providers continue to modify their product offerings through reductions in fund availability and increased fees. In addition, an increasing number of investment-only variable annuity products have been launched, following the success of Elite Access, our variable annuity without living benefits.

Jackson achieved total retail APE sales of £1,491 million in 2014, an increase of 6 per cent compared to 2013. These sales were achieved while continuing to write new business at aggregate internal rates of return in excess of 20 per cent and with a payback period of one year. Including institutional sales, total APE sales increased 4 per cent to £1,556 million, driving new business profit3 growth of 4 per cent to £694 million.

Total variable annuity APE sales increased 10 per cent to £1,401 million in 2014. Within this, APE sales of Elite Access rose 26 per cent to £311 million. The economics of our variable annuity business continue to be very attractive. With the success of Elite Access, we continue to improve the diversification of our product mix, contributing to an increase in the share of non-living benefit variable annuity sales to a new high of 34 per cent of total variable annuity APE sales (2013: 31 per cent).

Jackson remains focused on proactively managing sales volumes of variable annuities with living benefits to match our annual risk appetite. Jackson’s statutory separate account assets increased by 17 per cent, from £69.8 billion in 2013 to £81.7 billion in 2014 (up 24 per cent on an actual exchange rate basis), reflecting both positive net flows and the growth in the underlying market value of the separate account assets.

Fixed annuity APE sales of £53 million remained relatively flat compared to 2013, while fixed index annuity APE sales of £37 million decreased 57 per cent, primarily as a result of product changes implemented in late 2013 to ensure appropriate returns on shareholder capital.

EEV life operating profit3 was £1,528 million, up 5 per cent from 2013, reflecting growth in the scale of our in-force book, favourable experience variances, and higher new business profit. We continue to write business at overall new business margins close to post-crisis highs, demonstrating the positive effect of proactive product and pricing actions that have helped to mitigate the adverse impact of the low interest rate environment.

IFRS operating profit from non-life operations in the US decreased to £12 million (2013: £56 million), due to a Curian loss of £18 million that included a £38 million charge related primarily to the refund of certain fees by Curian.

Jackson’s strategy is unchanged, serving the 77 million baby boomers as they enter retirement, while delivering operating earnings and cash. We continue to price new business on a conservative basis, targeting value over volume. Our hedging remains focused on optimising the economics of our exposures, therefore accepting a degree of volatility in our accounting results where they are not aligned with the underlying economics. Thanks to this approach, Jackson has been able to deliver significant profitable growth across the cycle, while maintaining a strong balance sheet. Since 1 January 2008, Jackson has remitted nearly US$2.6 billion of cash to the Group. Jackson’s approach has successfully translated into value for customers and into profits and cash for shareholders, the metrics through which we ultimately measure the success of our strategy.

Read more: Our businesses and their performance - United States


£1,482m net cash remittances from business units

11% increase on 2013


UK, Europe and Africa

Our UK business continues to focus on its core strengths of investment (with the with-profits offering as a core proposition) and retirement solutions. In 2014, Prudential UK delivered life IFRS operating profit of £752 million, up 7 per cent year-on-year, primarily as a result of higher sales of bulk annuities, partially offset by the impact of the contraction of the individual annuities market following market reforms. Cash remitted to the Group was £325 million, compared to £355 million in 2013, as we increased our investment in new business and upgraded our UK pre- and post-retirement customer proposition.

The UK market continues to be heavily influenced by a high level of regulatory and legislative change. The significant reforms of the pensions industry announced by the UK government, including removal of the requirement to purchase a pension annuity from April 2015, have resulted in an increasing proportion of customers deferring the decision to convert their pension savings into retirement income. The increased flexibility afforded by these reforms should ultimately help create an environment where more people are encouraged to save. The changes have also opened up opportunities for us to meet customer needs for alternative retirement solutions, including income drawdown. In December 2014 we launched a flexible drawdown product ahead of the introduction of the April 2015 pension reforms. This product will allow customers to access income drawdown without limits from April 2015, and is suited to customers who want more choice over how they use their retirement savings for income.

Retail sales growth across our range of investment products reflected the strength of our distribution capability, particularly our intermediary channel, as we responded to the challenges and opportunities created by the pension reforms. Sales in this segment, which includes onshore and offshore bonds, individual pensions and income drawdown, together delivered APE sales growth of 41 per cent. We will continue to develop our with-profits proposition, enhancing the range of investment choices available to policyholders, and have recently made PruFund available in the Individual Savings Account market. The growth in our investment products was offset by a 49 per cent reduction in APE sales of individual annuities, reflecting the market contraction since the UK budget announcement. Despite this market disruption, overall retail APE sales of £686 million were 2 per cent lower than 2013 and increased by 3 per cent in the second half of the year compared with the same period in 2013. Retail new business profit was 23 per cent lower at £165 million, largely due to the reduced sales of higher-margin individual annuities.

Onshore bonds APE sales of £232 million increased by 32 per cent, reflecting the strength of our investment proposition. APE sales from with-profits bonds of £214 million were 34 per cent higher, due to continuing demand for our non-guaranteed bond. We expect significant ongoing demand for our with-profits bond, with customers attracted by the benefit of a smoothed return to help manage market volatility and a strong track record of investment growth.

APE sales from other retail products, including individual pensions, income drawdown and offshore bonds, increased by 44 per cent to £201 million. Offshore bond APE sales were 44 per cent higher, reflecting the growing popularity of our with-profits fund. Income drawdown APE sales grew by 133 per cent to £35 million and individual pensions APE sales increased by 44 per cent to £72 million, both driven by the strength of our with-profits PruFund offering, and by customers selecting more flexible retirement income solutions in anticipation of the pension reforms.

In total, PruFund assets under management increased 27 per cent to £11.6 billion in 2014.

Corporate pensions APE sales of £147 million were 15 per cent lower, mainly due to changes to public sector pension schemes. We remain the largest provider of Additional Voluntary Contribution plans within the public sector, where we provide schemes for 72 of the 99 public sector authorities in the UK (2013: 69 of the 99).

Prudential’s continuing focus on the delivery of excellent customer service was recognised at the 2014 Financial Adviser Service Awards where we received an outstanding achievement award for retaining our two ‘Five Star’ ratings in the Life & Pensions and Investment categories for the fourth year running.

In the wholesale market we wrote seven new bulk annuity deals in 2014 (2013: three), generating APE sales of £171 million (2013: £28 million) and new business profit3 of £105 million (2013: £24 million). Our approach to bulk transactions in the UK will continue to be one of selective participation, where we can bring both significant value to our customers and meet our shareholder return requirements. Through our longstanding presence in this segment of the life and pensions market, we have developed considerable longevity experience, operational scale and a good investment track record, which together represent expertise and capabilities that are increasingly in demand.

In Poland, our new life company, Prudential Polska, conducted its second year of business in 2014, growing ahead of plan. Headquartered in Warsaw, the business now has 15 branches across the country and 712 financial planning consultants. Its success is evidence of our ability to build franchises in new territories, leveraging effectively in this case some of our Asian staff and skills.

EEV life operating profit3 of £746 million was 10 per cent lower than 2013, reflecting a non-recurring contribution of £98 million in 2013 from the reduction in the rate of UK corporation tax.

On 10 November 2014, Prudential Assurance Company Limited announced the sale of its 25 per cent equity stake in the PruHealth and PruProtect businesses to Discovery Group Europe Limited for £155 million in cash, generating an IFRS profit on disposal of £86 million. This transaction enabled Prudential UK to realise its investment at attractive terms and creates strategic flexibility for future participation in the UK protection market.

During 2014, we completed the acquisition of Express Life in Ghana and Shield Assurance Company in Kenya, marking the Group’s entry into the nascent African life insurance industry. We are positive about the long-term opportunities in Africa, where we see many of the favourable structural characteristics of our preferred Asia markets, although most sub-Saharan life insurance markets are in the very early stages of development and therefore are not likely to be material in the short term.

Read more: Our businesses and their performance - United Kingdom

M&G

M&G is an investment-led business that has managed money on behalf of individual and institutional investors for more than 80 years. Its focus on producing superior long-term investment returns, coupled with well-established distribution in the UK and across Europe, has underpinned another strong set of financial results, with funds under management and profits both reaching new highs.

IFRS operating profit increased 13 per cent to £446 million in 2014, marking the fifth consecutive year of record profits. Over this period operating profit has grown by a compound annual growth rate of 16 per cent. While higher equity markets and buoyant bond markets have both contributed to improving profitability, strong net inflows of client assets since 2009, particularly in the retail market, have been a key driver of the increase in profit achieved by M&G. Reflecting this continued strong operating performance, M&G remitted £285 million of cash to Group in 2014, 21 per cent more than in 2013.

During 2014, the combination of continued net fund inflows and generally positive market movements increased M&G’s total funds under management by 8 per cent to £264 billion at the end of the year. Within this, external funds under management grew by 9 per cent to £137 billion and now account for 52 per cent of M&G’s total funds under management, compared with 40 per cent five years ago.

Within our retail business, we continue to make strong progress, with expansion of distribution in Continental Europe in recent years transforming the scale of funds under management and helping to diversify the business. Today, international clients account for 43 per cent of retail funds under management, compared with just 16 per cent five years ago, and M&G’s retail funds are now registered in 22 jurisdictions. Net inflows across Continental Europe were at a record level of £8.1 billion in 2014, compared to £7.6 billion in 2013. This more than offset a net outflow of £1.7 billion in the UK (2013: net outflow of £0.7 billion). In the UK, M&G achieved record net inflows into the M&G Property Portfolio Fund, which directly invests across different property sectors such as retail, offices and industrial on behalf of its UK retail client base. The Property Portfolio Fund finished 2014 with external funds under management of £3.0 billion, placing it as the largest retail property fund in the UK market.

M&G also continues to pursue business diversification by fund, with seven of its retail funds, representing all the major asset classes, achieving net inflows of at least £250 million during the year. One of these, the M&G Optimal Income Fund, became the top-selling10 European cross-border fund in 2014, based on annual net flows as of 31 December 2014.

At the end of 2014 retail funds under management were £74.3 billion, up 11 per cent from 2013 levels, driven by positive net inflows, which totalled £6.7 billion (2013: net inflows of £7.3 billion), including the contribution from our associate entity in South Africa.

A track record of innovation in the institutional market has enabled M&G to be at the forefront of a number of specialist fixed income markets, including leveraged finance and infrastructure investment. The consistency of institutional investment performance and its reputation for innovation earned M&G the prestigious 2014 Financial News Institutional Asset Management Awards for both fixed income and real estate for the second consecutive year.

Net institutional inflows were £401 million, compared with £2.1 billion in 2013. As expected, a number of segregated clients withdrew money from public debt funds as they reallocated scheme assets. There were also further planned redemptions from a large low-margin mandate. In general, outgoing assets have been replaced by flows into higher-margin products, helping to improve the profitability of the institutional business. M&G has in place a multi-billion-pound pipeline of institutional commitments at the end of 2014 across a diverse range of investment strategies that has yet to be invested.

External institutional funds under management increased 7 per cent in 2014 to £62.7 billion.

The recent increase in headcount and investment in operational infrastructure required to preserve service quality as the scale of the business grows, has been more than matched by revenue growth in 2014. As a result the cost-income ratio11 of 58 per cent in 2014 has improved slightly over the prior year (2013: 59 per cent).

M&G remains focused on producing superior long-term investment returns for clients, while continuing to diversify its business by geography and asset class and providing capital-efficient profits and cash generation for the Group.

Read more: Our businesses and their performance - Asset management

Capital and risk management

We continue to take a disciplined approach to capital management and have implemented a number of measures over the last few years to enable us to make our capital work both more efficiently and more effectively for the Group. Using the regulatory measures of the IGD, our Group capital surplus position6 at 31 December 2014 was estimated at £4.7 billion (2013: £5.1 billion), after funding the fees payable for the new 15-year exclusive distribution agreement with Standard Chartered Bank. The IGD surplus is stated before allowing for the final dividend and is equivalent to a cover of 2.4 times.

In July 2013, Prudential plc was listed by the Financial Stability Board as one of nine companies to be designated as a Global Systemically Important Insurer (GSII). In July 2014 the International Association of Insurance Supervisors released a consultation paper on the Basic Capital Requirement, one of the two types of capital requirement proposed under the GSII framework. Prudential is monitoring the development and potential impact of the framework of policy measures and engaging closely with the Prudential Regulation Authority on the implication of this designation.

Solvency II is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January 2016 and our preparations are well advanced. While the Omnibus II Directive is now in place, there are still many areas which require further interpretation. We continue to work with the Prudential Regulation Authority on shaping the outcome to ensure that the practical details of Solvency II, including the final implementing measures, are both workable and effective.

On an economic capital basis12 our surplus at 31 December 2014 of £9.7 billion (2013: £11.3 billion) is equivalent to an economic capital ratio of 218 per cent (2013: 257 per cent). These results are based on outputs from our Solvency II internal model, which has not yet been approved by the Prudential Regulation Authority. The results assume US equivalence, place no restrictions on the economic value of overseas surplus, and incorporate a number of other working assumptions. Certain aspects of the methodology and assumptions underpinning these results will differ from those which are applied in obtaining final Solvency II Pillar I internal model approval. The eventual Solvency II Pillar I ratio, therefore, remains uncertain and is expected to be lower than our economic capital ratio.

Read more: Group Chief Risk Officer's report on the risks facing our business and our capital strength

 

Dividend

The Board has decided to rebase the full-year dividend upwards by 10 per cent, reflecting the 2014 financial performance of the Group. In line with this, the directors recommend a final dividend of 25.74 pence per share (2013: 23.84 pence), which brings the total dividend for the year to 36.93 pence (2013: 33.57 pence). This rebase has been made possible by the continued exceptionally strong performance of the Group.

Although the Board has been able to recommend such a rebase in 2014, the Group’s dividend policy remains unchanged. The Board will maintain its focus on delivering a growing dividend from this new higher base, which will continue to be determined after taking into account the Group’s financial flexibility and our assessment of opportunities to generate attractive returns by investing in specific areas of the business. The Board believes that in the medium term a dividend cover of around two times is appropriate.

Full-year dividend+10%

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
23.85 25.19 29.19 33.57 36.93

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outlook

2014 was a successful year for the Group, where the strength and focus of our teams and of our businesses enabled us to deliver good financial and operational progress and maintain a robust capital position, despite a number of challenges both globally and locally.

It is clear that we are operating in a period of considerable change. 2015 has already seen a continuation of macroeconomic volatility, political upheaval and unexpected shifts in central bank positioning, with the uncertainty of election outcomes in many countries in Europe, including in the UK, still to come before the end of the year. As a result, investment markets generally remain cautious on the global outlook, reflected in further declines in long-term interest rates in most of the major economies in early 2015. The persistently low level of interest rates is a challenge for insurance companies. However, in recent years we have positioned the Group through proactive actions on product mix, pricing and our balance sheet to mitigate the negative effects of the low interest rate environment and continue to grow our earnings. We have had the same strategy since 2009 and it has served us well. We continue to execute with discipline and purpose and we believe our strategy and operating principles enable us to deliver relative outperformance across the cycle, as evidenced during the financial crisis.

Asia, with its strong economic growth, young and growing population with savings and protection needs, and low levels of insurance penetration, continues to represent the most attractive opportunity in our industry today and therefore remains the primary focus of our profitable growth ambitions. Our established, growing multi-distribution platform puts us in a strong position to continue to capture profitably the opportunities available to us in Asia, while the breadth of our franchise, by geography, product and channel, provides us with the resilience that has allowed us to achieve relative outperformance through the cycle, even when individual countries presented short-term challenges. We will continue to invest in enhancing our agency and bancassurance distribution capabilities, to ensure our customers have effective advice-led access to our products. This was most recently evidenced by the renewal in 2014 of our pan-regional relationship with Standard Chartered Bank for another 15 years. The strong underlying fundamentals of economic growth and increasing affluence in Asia, and the quality of our products, people and distribution, remain powerful drivers of our ability to generate profitable growth while delivering value for our customers.

In the US and the UK, we continue to utilise our established market position, distribution strength and distinctive products to ensure the delivery of earnings and cash, with strict allocation of capital to segments of the market that offer higher, capital-efficient margins. The UK life insurance market has been subject to significant reform, the ramifications of which are still playing out, but which we believe will ultimately lead to greater customer demand for savings and retirement solutions and create new opportunities for Prudential UK and M&G to leverage their existing expertise.

We remain confident in our ability to produce profitable growth over the long term and to continue to create value for our customers and shareholders.

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to lead Prudential, one of the iconic companies in UK financial services. We have successfully navigated some challenging times, including the global financial crisis, and have emerged with four profitable and strongly cash-generative businesses. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the staff and agents of Prudential around the world who have made these achievements possible and I want to thank them personally for their hard work and dedication. I leave the Group in good shape and look forward to seeing shareholders at my final Annual General Meeting as Group Chief Executive in May.

 

The strength and focus of our teams and
of our businesses enabled us to deliver good
financial and operational progress.

Tidjane Thiam
Group Chief Executive

Notes

  1. The comparative results referenced above and elsewhere in this report have been prepared using constant exchange rates basis except where otherwise stated. Comparative results on an actual exchange rate basis are also shown in financial tables in the Chief Financial Officer’s report on our 2014 financial performance.
  2. Including Prudential Capital.
  3. The 2014 EEV results of the Group are presented on a post-tax basis and, accordingly, 2013 results are shown on a comparable basis.
  4. Annual Premium Equivalent (APE) sales comprise regular premium sales plus one-tenth of single premium insurance sales.
  5. ‘Sweet spot’ markets are Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.
  6. Before allowing for final dividend.
  7. Underlying free surplus generation comprises underlying free surplus released from long-term business (net of investment in new business) and that generated from asset management operations. The 2012 comparative is based on the retrospective application of new and amended accounting standards and excludes the 2012 one-off gain of £51 million from the sale of the Group’s holding in China Life Insurance Company of Taiwan.
  8. Asia 2012 IFRS operating profit of £924 million is based on the retrospective application of new and amended accounting standards as at 31 December 2013, and excludes the 2012 one-off gain of £51 million from the sale of the Group’s holding in China Life Insurance Company of Taiwan.
  9. Based on AAJI statistics to 30 September 2014.
  10. Source: Lipper FMI, FundFile as of 31 December 2014.
  11. Excluding performance fees, carried interest and share of profits from associate entity, PPM South Africa.
  12. The methodology and assumptions used in calculating the economic capital results are set out in note II (c) of Additional unaudited financial information. The economic capital ratio is based on outputs from the Group’s Solvency II internal model which will be subject to Prudential Regulation Authority review and approval before its formal adoption in 2016. We remain on track to submit our Solvency II internal model to the Prudential Regulation Authority for approval in 2015 but given the degree of uncertainty remaining these economic capital disclosures should not be interpreted as outputs from an approved internal model.

2

Next page:

Strategic report

Reporting tools

Save pages of the report
to download, print or email

View your pages

Feedback

Your comments and ideas
help us to shape future reports
to suit your needs

Tell us your views