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Margaret Kirch Cohenmargaret.cohen@morningstar.com
American Express Retirement Services Launches Comprehensive Advice and Guidance Platform, Powered by Morningstar

CHICAGO, Sep 02, 2003 – Clients to give participants access to investment planning services via the Web, telephone and in person.

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 2, 2003 — American Express Retirement Services announced today the launch of its retirement plan advice and guidance platform. The new platform combines the power of the Morningstar® Enterprise Advice Solutionsm, a comprehensive set of retirement plan advice services, with American Express Financial Advisors, one of the most dynamic networks of personal, face-to-face financial educators in the industry. 

Retirement plan sponsors now have the opportunity to provide plan participants access to Morningstar Advice services via three different channels: the Web, in person and over the telephone. This multifaceted platform also marks the first time the Morningstar Advice Call Centersm tool has been made available.

American Express Retirement Services clients in the initial implementation include: Air Liquide, which specializes in industrial and medical gases and related services, and Chemtex, an engineering partner firm. Additional clients are already preparing to implement the new program before the end of the year. American Express Retirement Services initially announced the new platform along with the retention of Morningstar in January 2003.

According to Rusty Field, vice president of American Express Financial Education and Planning Services, “Our own research* tells us that more than half of the people working for companies with 401(k) retirement plans would like assistance in deciding where to put money in the plan, and more than one third said their need for advice has increased with the recent market volatility. The study also found that a majority of people prefer personal interaction (in person or on the phone) to online or paper-based forms of guidance or advice. All this has driven us to create this umbrella approach that offers an advice or guidance solution for everyone, meeting both plan sponsor and participant demand.”

“Multiple-channel retirement advice is the wave of the future. American Express is giving employers what they have been asking for — a variety of ways in which to help their employees successfully meet their goals,” said John Rekenthaler, president of Morningstar Associates, LLC. “Through our online and call center tools, Morningstar Associates is ready to serve investors in today's rapidly changing marketplace.”

“The top reasons plan sponsors give for not offering their participants investment help has been the cost and fiduciary concerns,” said Field. “We believe our approach effectively removes these barriers, offering our clients guidance-level service at no cost. Additionally, our arrangement is designed to be consistent with recent Department of Labor direction giving plan sponsors more peace of mind while giving participants access to retirement planning help with the human interaction many are seeking.”

About Morningstar, Inc. and Morningstar Associates, LLC
Morningstar, Inc. is a leading global investment research firm that provides an extensive line of print, software, and Web-based products and services for individuals, financial advisors and institutions. Morningstar is a valued source of investment information and analysis for stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, closed-end funds, separate accounts, 529 plans, and variable annuities.

The Morningstar® Enterprise Advice Solutionsm is provided by Morningstar Associates, LLC, a registered investment advisor and a wholly owned subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc. The financial data and methodology used in the Enterprise Advice Solution are proprietary to Morningstar, Inc., and/or Morningstar Associates, LLC.

About American Express Retirement Services
American Express Retirement Services, a service group of American Express Financial Advisors, is a provider of services for defined contribution and 401(k) plans with total combined assets of more than $27 billion and a participant base of more than 1 million as of June 30, 2003. Based in Minneapolis, it provides corporations, unions and municipalities nationwide with a complete package of financial education, recordkeeping and trustee services for qualified retirement plans. For more information on American Express Retirement Services, visit www.americanexpress.com/sponsors.

American Express Retirement Services' Financial Education & Planning Services group delivers comprehensive financial education programs to organizations ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations. They provide Web, phone, print and face-to-face education, guidance and advice to more than 2 million employees nationwide.

American Express Retirement Services is a service group of American Express Financial Advisors, provider of financial advisory services and investment programs for more than 2.3 million clients. They have helped people with their financial goals for more than 100 years. American Express Financial Advisors provides an array of financial products and services to individuals and businesses across the country through the personal service of more than 10,000 financial advisors. More than 4,500 of these advisors have experience providing financial education in the workplace. Financial advisors with American Express Financial Advisors hold more professional designations than any other sales force in the industry.

Registered investments and financial planning services are offered through American Express Financial Advisors Inc., Member NASD. American Express Company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer. Retirement plan and trust related services are offered through American Express Trust Company.

*November 2002 American Express Retirement Services Omnibus Survey on Financial Stress and Investment Advice. BAI Global conducted the telephone survey of nationally representative households receiving a total of 756 qualified consumer responses: 493 were currently enrolled in a company sponsored retirement plan, and 263 had employers that offered a retirement plan but were not currently participating in the plan. American Express Global Marketplace Insights research group provided data analysis and findings.

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