Newark skyline with the Prudential Financial headquarters at right.
|The Prudential Insurance Company of America|
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
|Founder||John F. Dryden|
|Headquarters||Prudential Plaza, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.|
(Chairman and CEO)
|Revenue||US$ 54.161 billion (2014)|
|US$ 1.759 billion (2014)|
|US$ 1.381 billion (2014)|
|US$ 766.655 billion (2014)|
|US$ 41.77 billion (2014)|
Number of employees
Prudential Financial, Inc. is an American Fortune Global 500 and Fortune 500 company whose subsidiaries provide insurance, investment management, and other financial products and services to both retail and institutional customers throughout the United States and in over 30 other countries. Principal products and services provided include life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, pension- and retirement-related investments, administration and asset management, securities brokerage services, and commercial and residential real estate in many states of the U.S. It provides these products and services to individual and institutional customers through distribution networks in the financial services industry. Prudential has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America and has organized its principal operations into the Financial Services Businesses and the Closed Block Business.
The use of Prudential's symbol, the Rock of Gibraltar, began after an advertising agent passed Laurel Hill, a volcanic neck, in Secaucus, New Jersey, on a train in the 1890s. The related slogans "Get a Piece of the Rock" and "Strength of Gibraltar" are also still quite widely associated with Prudential, though current advertising uses neither of these. Through the years, the symbol went through various versions, but in 1989, a simplified pictogram symbol of the Rock of Gibraltar was adopted. It has been used ever since. The logotype was updated with a proprietary font in 1996. The font, Prudential Roman, was designed by Doyald Young and John March, based on the Century font family.
Started in Newark, New Jersey, in 1875, Prudential Financial was originally called The Widows and Orphans Friendly Society, then the Prudential Friendly Society. It was founded by John F. Dryden, who later became a U.S. Senator. It sold one product in the beginning, burial insurance. Dryden was president of Prudential until 1912. He was succeeded by his son Forrest F. Dryden, who was the president until 1922.
A history of The Prudential Insurance Company of America up to about 1975 is the topic of the book Three Cents A Week, referring to the premium paid by early policyholders.
At the turn of the 20th century, Prudential and other large insurers reaped the bulk of their profits from industrial life insurance, or insurance sold by solicitors house-to-house in poor urban areas. For their insurance, industrial workers paid double what others paid for ordinary life insurance, and due to high lapse rates, as few as 1 in 12 policies reached maturity. Prominent lawyer and future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis helped pass a 1907 Massachusetts law to protect workers by allowing savings banks to sell life insurance at lower rates.
Prudential has evolved from a mutual insurance company (owned by its policyholders) to a joint stock company (as it was prior to 1915). It is now traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol PRU. The Prudential Stock was issued and started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on December 13, 2001. On October 16, 2007 the Fox Business Channel picked Prudential as part of its Fox50 Index.
On August 1, 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the discovery of terrorist threats against the Prudential Headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, prompting large-scale security measures such as concrete barriers and internal security changes such as X-ray machines. In the same year, a joint venture was formed between Prudential Financial and China Everbright Limited.
On August 28, 2006, federal and state securities regulators and the Department of Justice announced parallel settlements and a total of $600 million in monetary sanctions against Prudential Securities, Inc. (now known as Prudential Equity Group ) for misconduct relating to improper market timing.
In 1981, the company acquired Bache & Co., a stock brokerage service that operated as a wholly owned subsidiary until 2003, when Wachovia and Prudential combined their retail brokerage operations into Wachovia Securities, with Prudential a minority stake holder. In 1999, Prudential sold its healthcare division, Prudential HealthCare, to Aetna for $1 billion. On May 1, 2003, Prudential formalized the acquisition of American Skandia, the largest distributor of variable annuities through independent financial professionals in the United States. The CEO of American Skandia, Wade Dokken, partnered with Goldman Sachs and sold the division to Prudential for $1.2 billion. The combination of American Skandia variable annuities and Prudential fixed annuities was part of Prudential's strategy to acquire complementary businesses that help meet retirement goals.
In April 2004, the company acquired the retirement business of CIGNA Corporation. In late 2009, Prudential sold its minority stake in Wachovia Securities Financial Holdings LLC to Wells Fargo & Co. In 2011, Prudential sold Prudential Bache Commodities, LLC to Jefferies.
In February 2011, the company acquired AIG Edison and AIG Star both in Japan from American International Group, Inc (AIG) for a total of $4.8 billion. This acquisition bolstered Prudential's operations in Asia while giving cash to AIG to pay back the federal government from its bailout in 2008.
In January 2013, the company acquired the individual life insurance business from The Hartford for $615 million in cash. The acquisition includes 700,000 in force life insurance policies with a face amount of approximately $135 billion. This move by Prudential not only brought over additional life insurance revenue, it brought in new talent that the U.S. Life Insurance division needed for innovation. As Prudential's Variable Annuity business continues to grow, the company needs to continue to grow its life insurance business to provide a natural hedge against unforeseen mortality risk.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Prudential Securities Incorporated (PSI), formerly a division of Prudential Financial, was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for suspected fraud. During the investigation, it was found that PSI had defrauded investors of close to $8 billion, the largest fraud found by the SEC in US history to that point. The SEC charged that Prudential allowed rogue executives to cheat customers on a large scale and blithely ignored a 1986 SEC order to overhaul its internal enforcement of securities laws. In all, some 400,000 individual investors lost money on the deals. In 1993 Prudential Financial eventually settled with investors for $330 million. Prudential said it would repay customers across the U.S. who lost money on the company's limited partnerships in the 1980s. In addition, the firm was required to pay another $41 million in fines. The settlement also resolved investigations of the firm by the National Association of Securities Dealers and 49 states, including California, where 52,000 investors lost money in Prudential limited partnerships. Further investigation was conducted by the SEC into the executives of the company to determine the extent of the fraud.
In 1997, Prudential settled a class action lawsuit by millions of its customers who had been sold unnecessary life insurance by Prudential agents over a 13-year period ending in 1995. The settlement called for Prudential to repay an estimated $2 billion to customers through direct refunds and enhancements to existing policies. The settlement had been the subject of extensive negotiations involving not only Prudential and its customers, but also insurance regulators in 30 states. Prudential had agreed in early 1997 to pay a fine of $35 million to settle state allegations of deceptive sales practices. Prudential acknowledged that for more than a decade its agents had improperly persuaded customers to cash in old policies and purchase new ones so that the agents could generate additional sales commissions.
In 2010, various media outlets noted allegations that the Prudential Life Insurance Company was manipulating the payout of life insurance benefits due to the families of American soldiers in order to gain extra profits. The company provided life insurance to people in the armed forces under a government contract. Rather than paying the full amount due to the families at once, the company would instead deposit the funds into a Prudential corporate account. These accounts are referred to as 'retained asset accounts' and are essentially an I.O.U. from the company to the payee (in many cases a fallen service members' family). While in early 2010 Prudential was making profits of up to 4.2% in its general account, they paid out 0.5% interest in these non-FDIC insured "Alliance" accounts. In some cases, when families requested to be sent a full payout in the form of a check, the family was sent a checkbook, rather than the amount due.
It is not clear if the practice was in violation of law or the contract. In August 2010, the company was sued by a number of the bereaved families. The company's response included an open letter to the military community in which it addressed what it characterized as "misinformation" about the nature of the accounts.Military Times noted that prior lawsuits against insurance companies pertaining to the use of retained asset accounts have been dismissed in federal courts without action.
Prudential has received a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign every year since 2003, the second year of the report. In addition, the company is in the "Hall of Fame" of Working Mothers magazine among other companies that have made their "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" list for 15 or more years. It is still achieving that list, as of 2013. According to Business Week's The Best Places to Launch a Career 2008, Prudential Insurance was ranked #59 out of 119 companies on the list. In 2007, The Prudential Foundation provided over $450,000 in Prudential CARES Volunteer Grants to 444 nonprofit organizations worldwide. The Prudential CARES Volunteer Grants Program recognizes individual and team volunteers based on a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service per individual. Grants range from $250 to $5,000 for each award winner's charitable organization. Prudential ranked #69 on the 2017 Forbes World's Biggest Public Companies list, calling out their $45.6 billion market value.
The foundation also supports the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.