Two Asian financial giants deserve to be better known

TOYOTA, Unilever, Barclays, Amazon, Tata. There are 71,000 listed firms in the world, but only a few hundred that many people know at least a little about. Schumpeter would like to propose two Asia-centric candidates: AIA and Prudential PLC. They pass the key tests of relevance. They are big, with a combined market value of $160bn. They are special, having grown profits faster than two-thirds of listed companies over the past decade. They have prospered against the odds, surviving wars, revolutionary Shanghai, decolonisation and the 2008 Wall Street crash. And they illustrate a global trend: the rise of Asia as a mighty force—perhaps eventually the dominant force—in global finance.

AIA and Pru are specialists in getting Asians to save through long-term insurance, typically life or health policies. They span 20 Asian countries, have over 60m customers and employ almost a million agents to sell their services. They are big investors in local financial markets. And they are beneficiaries of...



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