At Prudential, Life Insurance Was a Belief Before It Was a Business
Since 1875, Prudential Insurance has helped people achieve financial security and peace of mind. Our success is based on a long history of social responsibility, strong leadership, sound investments and innovative products and services. The Prudential Friendly Society, founded by insurance agent John Fairfield Dryden, was founded in a basement office at 812 Broad Street in downtown Newark, N.J. It was the first company in the U.S. to make life insurance available to the working-class. The company sold Industrial Insurance, which provided funeral and burial expenses for low-income families, with some weekly premiums as low as three cents.
Four years later, Prudential’s sales extended beyond New Jersey, into New York City and Philadelphia, and the company’s customer base expanded to the newly emerging middle class. With growing sales, assets reached $1 million, and in 1885, the one-millionth policy was sold to John Dryden. Renamed “The Prudential Insurance Company of America,” Prudential later adopted The Rock of Gibraltar as its company symbol, reflecting the strength and security it offered to customers.
As the twentieth century emerged, Prudential transitioned from a stock company to a mutual company, and business continued to grow. Even during the Great Depression, when policy loans and mortgage delinquencies rose to unprecedented numbers, Prudential Insurance remained committed to protecting working families.
The 1940s began a “golden” period for Prudential. Monetary assets grew six-fold, and Prudential continued to expand its product offerings. The company decentralized and over the next three decades opened regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Jacksonville, Houston, Boston and northern New Jersey and a Canadian Head Office in Toronto.
Expansion and growth underscored the latter third of the twentieth century. Prudential Insurance marked the 1980s by becoming the first major insurance company to market variable annuities. In 1984, the company introduced Variable Appreciable Life, a major product innovation, that gave customers investment options in which to invest their policy cash values. Growth continued into the following year when Prudential acquired Jennison Associates Capital Corp., a major stock and bond manager for pension funds. Topping off the decade, the company entered the residential real estate brokerage business in 1987 by forming a new subsidiary, The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates.
Prudential entered the 1990s with consolidated assets surpassing $100 billion. The decade also saw a changing of the guard when Arthur F. Ryan of Chase Manhattan Bank, became the first individual from outside Prudential to become chairman and chief executive officer.
In 2001, Prudential Insurance marked a major milestone with its demutualization. Prudential Financial, Inc.’s common stock began trading on December 13, 2001, on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “PRU.” Since that time, Prudential Financial completed a number of business transactions that include the acquisition of American Skandia, the largest distributor of variable annuities through independent financial planners in the United States, and the creation of a retail brokerage business with Wachovia Corporation forming one of the nation’s largest retail financial advisory organizations, Wachovia Securities, LLC.
Prudential Financial’s distinctive rock logo and Prudential’s name are among the most enduring brands in U.S. corporate history. The company’s long history is a testament to the quality it has provided its customers. In addition to the level of service, Prudential Financial is today recognized for the breadth of products and services it provides and continues to be a recognized company of quality financial services at home and abroad.