The board at financial and credit card services conglomerate American Express Co. engaged Big Four firm Ernst & Young as the auditor for its American Express Financial Advisors unit. The company, headquartered here, said that the board's decision was fueled by the planned spin-off of AEFA to shareholders, which the company announced earlier this month. Minneapolis-based AEFA came under fire recently when the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation filed a petition for relief in the amount of $17.5 million against it, after an audit revealed a disproportionate amount of American Express funds in clients' financial plans. An investigation revealed management's support of advisors that promoted the firms' poorer-performing funds, as opposed to those of competitors, and backed it up by offering more lucrative incentives for Amex products. PricewaterhouseCoopers will remain the independent accountant for American Express Co. for fiscal 2005.

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