The following announcement is based on an internal note to American Express employees from Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer:
As I shared with you a few weeks ago, the operating environment is changing, and we are moving with a sense of urgency to accelerate growth. Against the backdrop of ongoing cyclical headwinds and longer-term shifts in the payments industry, our plan is focused on three key priorities: growing revenues, optimizing investments, and reducing our expense base.
Today I want to talk about our approach to reducing our expense base and describe actions we are taking to enhance control and compliance across the company.
To get ahead of the changes that are altering the dynamics of the payments business, we need to re-adjust our expense base, which is why we set a target of reducing costs by $1 billion over the next two years. This is a big task. It essentially means that we must transform the way the company works. We need to do some things better and some things differently – with a “one company” perspective instead of operating as a collection of individual businesses. Among other things, this means taking a company-wide look at functions and processes that now exist in multiple parts of the organization and identifying opportunities to consolidate them into centralized utilities that provide support across business lines.
Our approach focuses on three major dimensions:
- Streamlining our organization, by bringing similar businesses and functions together, reducing management layers and increasing spans of control
- Reengineering key cross-business processes by looking at them end-to-end and creating global centers of excellence that clarify roles and responsibilities and provide support across businesses
- Leveraging policy changes to help drive tighter expense control across the company
We started this initiative last October with the reorganization into three global customer groups – consumer, commercial and merchant & loyalty. At that time, we also began an end-to-end look at two core processes that are performed in a number of different areas across the company – marketing and control & compliance. Subsequently, we started to look at other areas of our business to identify additional opportunities to increase efficiencies and effectiveness. In addition, we are looking at making certain policy changes that will cut costs across the company. Our overall goal in all of this is to create a structure that enables us to generate growth and serve customers in the most efficient and effective way possible, while enhancing our overall control environment.
Today I want to share our decisions to consolidate certain control and marketing activities, and merge our two largest servicing organizations.
Control & Compliance
Ensuring we have a strong control and compliance environment throughout the organization is one of our most important priorities – not just this year, but every year. We’ve made considerable progress in strengthening our compliance and risk management functions across the company to meet our regulatory and legal obligations. But we can do more. Currently, these functions are spread across a number of different places in the organization, which sometimes leads to duplicate work and overlapping roles and accountabilities.
We are bringing together key functions that are currently housed across our banking, risk and legal organizations into a single group. Paul Fabara, currently President of the Global Banking Group, will lead the new Global Risk & Compliance Group, and has been appointed Chief Risk Officer for the company, reporting to me. Paul is ideally suited for this role, having had extensive experience in leading a number of important risk and compliance initiatives, including spearheading the remediation efforts associated with the consent orders back in 2012, dealing with our regulators, and overseeing our domestic and international banking organizations.
Paul’s organization will include Operational Risk, led by Gabrielle Vitale, Chief Operational Risk Officer; Risk Oversight, under Global Risk Officer Bob Phelan; and Compliance, under Chief Compliance Officer Vic Warnement. Paul also retains responsibility for the Global Banking Group.
Ash Gupta, who continues to report to me, has been named President, Credit Risk and Global Information Management. Ash’s outstanding leadership as our Chief Risk Officer over the past nine years has been instrumental in bringing competitive excellence to our overall risk management program. In looking at the road ahead, Ash and I have been talking about how to best take advantage of his deep expertise to help address some of our most important challenges and opportunities. As we focus on accelerating revenue growth, it will be critically important for us to also maintain our industry-leading credit and fraud results. Ash will play a central role in this effort, ensuring we maintain our strong credit quality standards as we work to build our lending and charge portfolios.
Ash will also oversee the teams responsible for our Big Data capabilities, Performance Marketing and a number of our Information Management capabilities, which I’ll discuss later. In these areas, Ash will work closely with me and business leaders across the company to leverage the infrastructure that he and his team have built over the last several years to facilitate revenue growth and drive innovation across our businesses.
American Express is widely recognized for our strength in marketing, having attracted tens of millions of loyal customers to our products and services over the years. We’ve pioneered many innovations, but the way our marketing activities are currently structured – as separate functions within each line of business – has resulted in duplicate infrastructure, resources, expenses and processes. In taking a deeper, company-wide look at our marketing functions, as well as benchmarking other leading companies, it was clear that we could realize a number of important benefits from consolidating some activities to create scale and leverage expertise across businesses.
As a result, we are forming global centers of excellence in three areas: marketing operations, information management, and digital services. Key changes are as follows:
- We are creating a new global Marketing Operations organization, which will bring together marketing execution activities – such as campaign set-up, review and approval, and campaign implementation and reporting – from different areas of the business into a single organization. Mike McCormack will lead this new group as Vice President, Marketing Operations, reporting to Tammy Weinbaum, EVP of Global Business Services, the group that provides a number of internal services to our businesses across the company.
- We are evolving our Information Management (IM) functions so that we can accelerate innovation to drive revenue growth, while improving efficiency. Our focus is on two fronts: consolidating modeling and analytics resources to support consumer and business-to-business organizations globally, and creating an enterprise wide center of excellence that will manage the data infrastructure supporting all the businesses.
- For the Global Consumer Business we will follow the successful approach we have taken in our International Consumer group and bring together our international and U.S. consumer modeling and analytic resources to support the business globally. CP Duggal, EVP, Global Consumer Capabilities, will take on these responsibilities in an expanded role, adding them to his current responsibilities managing a number of other centralized functions for our global consumer business, reporting to Doug Buckminster, President of the Global Consumer Group.
- On the business-to-business side, Venkat Varadachary, SVP, Information Management and Chief Data Officer, will lead the IM group that supports our commercial and merchant services businesses. Venkat will continue to report to Manish Gupta, EVP, Information Management and Data Products.
- In addition, we are creating a global utility within our Risk and Information Management group that will bring together all of our various information databases and provide database management, governance and capabilities support to all our businesses globally.
We are creating an Enterprise Digital group that will centralize our web, mobile and digital product management activities to support our businesses across the enterprise. This group will be led by SVP Luke Gebb, who will report to Doug Buckminster.
John Hayes, our Chief Marketing Officer, led the marketing review that resulted in these decisions, working with me and business leaders throughout the company. Through this process, John has been a strong advocate for consolidating functions in the most pragmatic and efficient way possible, and that meant a structure with fewer leadership roles as we create the new centralized marketing capabilities. As a result, John suggested that, under the new structure, it was the right time for him to leave the company. While I know he would have continued to make significant contributions to our success under this realignment, I respect his decision. John will be part of our ongoing transition to this new marketing construct, and he will be available to our entire team as a resource in the coming months ahead.
In his 21 years at American Express, John has made an indelible mark on our company. During his tenure, he not only created a number of iconic brand advertising and marketing campaigns, but also played a key leadership role on major product innovations and ran our highly-respected publishing group prior to its divestiture. His experience, judgment and creative talent helped strengthen our brand and grow our business. John’s guidance and wisdom will continue to be a great help to us as we go through this transition.
Following this development, I am pleased to announce that Elizabeth Rutledge has been named EVP, Global Advertising and Media, reporting to me. Elizabeth will be responsible for global brand strategy, advertising and identity, media, sponsorships and 360 communications. Elizabeth is one of our most seasoned executives, having served in a number of leadership roles in Global Merchant Services and Consumer Products & Services. In her most recent role as EVP of Charge Card Products & Benefits, Elizabeth drove strong results for our consumer charge products, Membership Rewards and consumer benefits.
We have decided to merge World Service and Global Credit Administration into a single organization led by EVP Raymond Joabar, who continues to report to Vice Chairman, Steve Squeri.
As a result of this decision, Paul Dottle, EVP of Global Credit Administration, will take the opportunity to retire at the end of this year after a long and distinguished career at American Express that dates back to 1989.
As I announced a few weeks ago, I have assigned Steve Squeri, our Vice Chairman, to lead the overall expense reduction efforts for the entire company.
As we said last month, the changes we’ll be making to our organization and processes will result in a number of job eliminations across the company. At this time, we do not know what the magnitude of those reductions will be, as decisions on specific positions affected are yet to be made. Our intent is to make and communicate those decisions as quickly as we can.
Our industry is going through a sea change, and we are taking aggressive actions to stay out in front of that change. I am confident that we are on the right path. I’m confident because I know that we have the assets, the plans, the people and the determination to win in this evolving landscape.
We have many exciting growth opportunities, and we have a plan to pursue them. As we move ahead, we will continue to invest in:
- Growing our Card Member base and merchant network
- Deepening customer relationships through lending and rewards
- Increasing our international presence
- Growing our commercial payments business
- And developing newer, adjacent opportunities, like our Loyalty Coalition business
Embracing change and coming out stronger is something we at American Express have done many times in our history. Over the years, our people have demonstrated the resilience and the resolve to reinvent the company, adapting to changing customer needs and expectations while creating entirely new businesses in the process. I believe we are in one of those times of transformation now.
As always, I thank you for your ongoing commitment to our company, and I look forward with confidence to the success we will achieve together.
About American Express
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