American Express Co. is a global payments and travel company offering charge and credit payment card products as well as travel-related services to consumers and businesses. Unlike other card companies, AmEx both issues cards and processes transactions. Well-heeled consumers and companies make up the bulk of its customer base. It issues both charge cards and credit cards. The New York-based AmEx converted to become a bank holding company in 2008 to get $3.4 billion from the U.S. Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program. The company is among the banks that received permission to repay TARP funds.
Chief executive Kenneth I. Chenault is considered among the best financial-services executives. He's also one of the few black CEOs at the helm of a major U.S. corporation. Another plus for the company is Warren Buffett's backing. He has owned AmEx stock since the 1960s. His Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is AmEx's largest stockholder.
While the company prides itself in a pay-for-performance culture, it also has positioned itself as a leader in work-and-family initiatives. The company trimmed its workforce in the downturn, cutting thousands of jobs in 2008 and 2009.
The company shifted in the compensation mix in 2010, boosting base salary and reducing the cash bonus component of total compensation. For executives, overall compensation is weighted toward longer-term incentives, particularly stock-based awards.
AmEx has been recognized as a leader in work/life balance initiatives. One example: Its Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office opened its own on-site backup day-care facility.
CEO Kenneth I. Chenault shared three interview questions he likes to ask with WSJ.com:
-- Can you tell me about a time when you felt you had to compromise your values?
-- What are some things that you have done that have taken you out of your comfort zone?
-- What would someone else say are the three areas that have been instrumental to your success?