Bottom Line: Thiam can fulfil his ambitions for growth

 
Michael Bow
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PRUDENTIAL boss Tidjane Thiam likes to cite an incredible statistic: 10,000 people retire in the US every single day.

It is this stark fact – and the ballooning middle class across Asia – which lends credence to Thiam’s ambitious plan to make the £30bn insurer even bigger.

Although still enjoying a reputation among some dozy shareholders as one of the bluest of the blue chips, the kind of slow and steady income stock it used to be, its business is in fact closer in profile to the dynamics of an emerging markets growth stock, adding weight to Thiam’s sunny outlook.

Few doubt any longer that the man from the Pru can deliver the pace of growth he wants. The slide in UK insurance products sold l – total sales fell 12 per cent last year – is actually a sign of a sensible retrenchment from a declining and tough market.

Viewed from the air conditioned premises of its Asian offices the ambition to hugely grow the business and its profits looks perfectly doable.

Growth in Thailand this year, for example, was 68 per cent between January and September, in the Philippines 24 per cent and Vietnam 28 per cent. China grew 48 per cent. In the US, long considered the maturest of markets, it grew new business 11 per cent.
Growing big, mature firms very quickly is the holy grail of management; but as long as 401K cheques keep being cashed and Asia continues to prosper, Thiam has good grounds to achieve it.

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