Unhappiness at Prudential due to former CEO, says lawyer, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Unhappiness at Prudential due to former CEO, says lawyer

This article is more than 12 months old

There was unhappiness with Mr Philip Seah, former chief executive of Prudential Assurance Company Singapore, the High Court heard yesterday.

In one instance, more than 300 agency leaders in Singapore wrote a strongly worded e-mail to Prudential group chief executive Mike Wells, expressing "extreme disappointment" with Mr Seah, said Senior Counsel Thio Shen Yi of TSMP Law Corporation.

It was the first day Mr Seah took to the stand in an ongoing lawsuit between Prudential and its former top agency manager Peter Tan Shou Yi.


Mr Tan is being sued for up to $2.5 billion for allegedly instigating the defection to rival insurer Aviva Financial Advisers in mid-2016.

Prudential claims he breached contractual and fiduciary duties by poaching agents while he was still with the company. But Mr Tan contends there was already discontentment among the agents.

Citing a 2016 e-mail by Prudence, a network of agency leaders, Mr Thio said Mr Seah "managed to alienate the entire sales force with his high-handedness, especially in unilaterally removing long-established incentives without prior consultation".

Agency leaders also took issue with cuts in benefits that fell hardest on star performers, adding that a shareholding scheme implemented five years ago was also terminated.

They said the firm could "look forward to a bloodbath if the chief executive continues with his authoritarian leadership style".

Mr Seah eventually acknowledged that the letter was a clear indication that Prudence was unhappy. He disagreed, however, that this meant the entire agency force was unhappy.

Defence lawyers yesterday also cast doubt on the losses that Prudential claimed. Mr Thio argued that there were units under the Peter Tan Organisation (PTO) - where the defecting agents were from - who worked independently of Mr Tan.

While Mr Thio suggested these units would not be affected by Mr Tan's departure, Mr Seah disputed this, saying he still had influence over the agents.