Ivory Coast-born Mr Thiam, who became the first black chief executive of a FTSE 100 Index company when he was appointed to the role in 2009, is to become the new boss of banking group Credit Suisse.
Plans for his departure later this year were announced alongside annual results in which the Prudential posted a 14 per cent rise in annual operating profits to £3.2 billion.
Mr Thiam oversaw the company’s response to the financial crisis and shaped its successful Asia-focused strategy, where Prudential has tapped demand for savings among the region’s rapidly growing middle classes.
He joined the Pru from rival Aviva in 2008 and served as its chief financial officer for a year before taking on the role of chief executive.
Prudential chairman Paul Manduca said the company will be sorry to see Mr Thiam go, adding: “Tidjane has been one of the most exceptional leaders in Prudential’s long and illustrious history.”
Mr Thiam survived calls for his resignation in 2010 when shareholders railed at the Prudential’s failed bid worth 35.5 billion US dollars (£23.5 billion) to buy Asian insurer AIA. It would have been one of the biggest ever overseas takeover deals by a British company.
Prudential has gone on to more than double its size and profitability in Asia since 2009 and is also regarded as a robust performer in the UK life insurance market.
Mr Thiam said: “It has been a privilege and a pleasure to lead one of the iconic companies in UK financial services. We have successfully navigated some challenging times, including the global financial crisis, and have emerged with four profitable and strongly cash-generative businesses.”
He will present the company’s first quarter results in May and attend his final AGM as chief executive in May.