Charles F. Lowrey, a Prudential Financial, veteran with deep experience in international operations, is now leading the Newark, N.J. company as the entire industry expands its emphasis on global markets.
This is particularly so across Asia-Pacific, as rising incomes and expanding populations have benefited life insurers operating in the region, according to Ernst & Young’s EY insurance outlook 2019.
“The appetite for life insurance products remains strong in emerging markets, and the low insurance penetration in these countries represents a win-win for insurers,” wrote Jonathan Zhao, EY’s Asia-Pacific insurance leader.
Jacob Kilstein, an analyst at Argus Research Corp., told Bloomberg in January that both Lowery and MetLife Inc.’s Michel Khalaf were named to the top posts because both life insurers “are pursuing an international strategy.”
Prudential’s international insurance segment, which currently contributes 44 percent of the company’s earnings, develops and distributes life insurance, retirement products and certain accident and health products with fixed benefits to the mass affluent and affluent markets through its “Life Planner” operations in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.
The segment also provide similar products to the broad middle income and mass affluent markets across Japan, joint ventures in Chile, Malaysia, India and Indonesia, and in Ghana through multiple distribution channels including banks, independent agencies and “Life Consultants” associated with the segment’s “Gibraltar Life and Other” operations.
In the second quarter, the international insurance segment reported adjusted operating income of $849 million in the second quarter of 2019, compared to $784 million in the year-ago quarter.
Overall, the company’s second quarter net income $708 million, or $1.71 per share, compared to $197 million, or 46 cents per share a year ago. After-tax adjusted operating income was $1.307 billion, or $3.14 per share, missing analysts’ $3.23 estimate, according to Bloomberg.
In the company’s earnings call with analysts, Lowrey said that Prudential’s performance in the near-term would continue to be impacted by implementation costs from “accelerating our strategy.” However, the company is on track to achieve a high-single digit earnings per share growth rate over the intermediate term, with the potential for a low-double digit growth rate over the longer term.
“The strength of our distinct business model and ability to execute our strategy gives us confidence that we will achieve our financial results,” he said.
For the international insurance segment, Prudential expects mid-single digit intermediate term earnings growth by expanding distribution in proprietary and third-party channels, as well as making strategic investments in emerging markets. But the company also expects mid-to-high single digit intermediate term earnings growth in both its global assets management PGIM business and its U.S. “financial wellness” business.
“Our U.S. financial wellness businesses, PGIM and our international business offers unique scale and growth opportunities that cannot be easily replicated,” Lowrey said.
Lowrey became chairman and CEO in December when John Strangfeld retired. Prior to assuming his current roles, Lowrey served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Prudential’s international businesses. Previously, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Prudential’s U.S. businesses.
Lowrey also served as president and CEO of PGIM, Prudential’s global investment management business, and earlier as CEO of its real estate investment business, PGIM Real Estate.
Before joining Prudential in 2001, Lowrey was a managing director and head of the Americas for J.P. Morgan’s real estate and lodging investment banking group, where he began his investment banking career in 1988. Earlier, Lowrey spent four years as a managing partner of an architecture firm he founded in New York City. During this time, he became a registered New York architect.
He’s No. 50 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies
Headquarters: Newark, N.J.
Education: MBA from Harvard University, a master’s degree in architecture from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Princeton University.
First joined company: 2001
Prior to joining Prudential: JP Morgan
Named CEO: 2019