April 16, 2024
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American Express: The Birth and the Growth of a Fortune 100 Company

The American Express Company (popularly known as Amex) is a multinational financial services corporation headquartered in the Financial District (200 Vesey Street) of Lower Manhattan in New York City. The company was founded in 1850 and is one of the 30 components that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company’s logo (which was adopted in 1958) is a centurion or gladiator whose image appears on the company’s traveler’s cheque, credit cards, and charge cards. 

In the 1980s, Amex invested heavily in the brokerage industry, thus acquiring what became, in increments, Shearson Lehman Hutton, which after some investing became Smith Barney Shearson (owned by Primerica) and a revived Lehman Brothers. However, by 2008, neither the Shearson nor the Lehman name existed. 

In 2016, credit cards operating on the American Express network accounted for at least 22.9% of the total dollar volume of credit card transactions in the United States. By December 31, 2019, the company had 114.4 million cards in use, including 54.7 million cards in the United States alone, each averaging $19,972 annually.

Amex moved its headquarters to the 51-story Three World Financial Center in New York City in April 1951. However, the events of September 11, 2001, forced the company to leave its headquarters temporarily because it was located directly opposite the World Trade Center and suffered damages during the fall of the towers. The gradual movement back to its rehabilitated office headquarters began sometime in 2002. 

Amex maintains major offices in Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Arizona, and Sunrise, Florida, while its data centers are situated in North Carolina and Phoenix. Globally, Amex maintains a heavy presence in nearly all the continent and sometimes in more than one country in the same continent. The Amex Bank of Canada (founded in 1853) in Toronto currently has about 3,000 in its head office in Sheppard. It also has an office in Hamilton, Ontario. 

In the UK, Amex has several offices, including a European Service Center located in the Carton Hill area of Brighton, England. This service center deals with card servicing, fraud, sales, and merchant servicing. The official Europe, Middle East, and African headquarters is located in the Belgravia district of Westminster in Central London. AMEX’s Japan, Asia-Pacific, and Australian Headquarters is co-located in Singapore, while the Latin American and Caribbean HQ is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

American Express also has a massive presence in India. It has two centers located in New Delhi. The Indian operations of American Express, apart from the credit card business for the domestic Indian economy, revolve around the back office customer services operations. It is arguably the American Express largest employee location by headcount. The aim of these centers is to support the business continuity objectives of Amex by working 24/7, particularly during Hurricane Sandy. 

Away from providing financial and banking services, America Express supports initiatives to enhance architectural and cultural heritage, with the sole aim of raising the level of awareness on the importance of environmental and historical conservation, usually through the restoration of historical monuments. American Express is founder and principal sponsor of “World Monuments Watch,” a global program that was launched in 1995, courtesy of the World Monuments Funds. 

As a result of these efforts, Amex received the Corporate Art Award for its international restoration program during the first edition of the Corporate Art Awards.

Learn more about AMEX here


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