Prudential was founded on 30 May 1848 in Hatton Garden, London. The company’s registered name was “The Prudential Mutual Assurance Investment and Loan Association” and its purpose was to offer life assurance and loans to the middle classes. The firm built it's early strength on a large direct sales force of agents who would visit clients in person to discuss their needs and to collect insurance premiums. Relative to the size of the UK economy and financial markets the firm became more influential than either the Prudential of America or Nissei (Nippon Life) in Japan.
It was agents from the Pru who, on deciding to leave the Prudential and move to the United States, were given access to all the techniques of the firm to assist them in forming an insurance firm in America. That infant company went on to become Prudential of America, The Rock. There was never a significant ownership link between the two Prudential companies (one a listed firm in the UK and the Prudential of America a mutual company) although there is a memorandum of understanding about use of the Prudential name outside the United States.