No, no, not that Prudential

It’s always been quite confusing that there are two entirely separate Prudentials, the British one and the American one. But I suppose it doesn’t bother consumers over here or over there very much, because they’re scarcely aware of the existence of the other. (I don’t know if there are any third-party countries where both have businesses, and if so how on earth they manage to avoid confusion.)

Anyway, the thing is that these days, it does look very much as if there’s a third Prudential, over here in the UK, and it’s evidently a big but very low-profile company that’s behind all sorts of more familiar financial services brands.

For example, my PMI provider AXA PPP Healthcare. I’d always assumed this was part of AXA, but looking at the regulatory copy on their website it seems not. The first line reads: AXA PPP healthcare Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

This third Prudential must, it strikes me, be very big and important to need its own Regulation Authority. Or maybe it’s just very badly behaved and needs a regulator to keep a close eye on it.

Yes, of course, I know, I know, I work in financial services and I’m perfectly well aware that this isn’t a brand name, it’s a regulatory entity – so named, at the time of the splitting of the former Financial Services Authority, to identify the kind of regulation that it does and indeed doesn’t do.

But the consumer doesn’t know that. Millions of consumers just see the word Prudential, with a capital P, and assume it means the good old Pru.

I’m not sure if it really matters, but I bet the danger of this misunderstanding didn’t occur to anyone at the time they were giving the PRA its name.

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