Richards will replace Michael McLintock at M&G Investments later this year when he steps down after 19 years at the top of the business.
The electrical engineering graduate joined Aberdeen in 2003 when it bought Edinburgh Fund Managers and she has been chief investment officer since. At M&G she will be paid a salary of £400,000 but will be able to earn up to six times that amount as an annual bonus.
Aberdeen, with £291bn, has more funds under management than M&G which has £247bn, but running the Prudential business, with more than 1,900 employees in Europe and Asia, is regarded as one of the biggest jobs in the fund management industry.
Mike Wells, Prudential’s chief executive, said: “I am delighted that a person of Anne’s talent is joining the group and I look forward to working with her. Anne will be able to deploy her leadership skills and exceptional knowledge of the global asset management industry to provide the best possible outcomes for our customers, clients and shareholders.”
Prudential’s shares fell more than 3% to £13.25.
Richards was an important figure at Aberdeen as it boomed over the previous decade by focusing its investments on fast-growing emerging markets. But the company has suffered large withdrawals of funds in the past year as investors grew nervous about the slowdown in the Chinese economy and its effects on other developing economies.
Aberdeen has sought to reduce its reliance on emerging markets while telling investors those markets will grow in the long run but its reputation has taken a knock. Aberdeen said it would not appoint a direct replacement for Richards and that here work would be shared between Andrew McCaffery, the head of alternative investments, and Hugh Young who heads equities, fixed income and property.
Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen’s chief executive, said: “While we are sorry to lose Anne, we are also delighted that one of our colleagues should have been appointed to such an important role in the industry. Her appointment reflects well on Aberdeen and on the wealth of talent we have working at the company.”