updated 10/5/2009 11:39:28 AM ET 2009-10-05T15:39:28

American Express Co. said Monday its president, Alfred F. Kelly Jr., will step down early next year.

Kelly, 51, wants to run a company as a chief executive, a position that is unlikely to come open anytime soon at American Express as chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenault, 58, is entrenched in the job.

Chenault said Kelly will continue to lead the card issuer's transition to a bank holding company until his departure. He has been president and head of the global consumer group since 2007.

New York-based American Express changed its operating status last year amid the peak of the credit crisis so it could access government funding programs aimed at thawing frozen credit markets.

The company, which is still primarily a credit card lender, received $3.39 billion as part of the government's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program last fall. It repaid that money during the summer.

Kelly is just the latest banking executive to leave his position as top-level management has been increasingly turning over in the financial services sector. Last week, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis said he will retire by the end of the year. Bill Winters left his role as co-CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s investment bank as well.

With Kelly leaving, American Express' global consumer, small business and network businesses will report to Edward Gilligan, who is a vice chairman at the company and is 50 years old.

Separately, American Express also said it created a global services division that will cover customer service, technologies, operations, business processing and information management. Stephen Squeri, 50, has been named the group's president. He previously was in charge of technologies and corporate development.

The bank also created a new enterprise growth division that is aimed at generate incremental fee revenue and oversee American Express' entry into new payment areas. American Express is currently search outside the bank for an executive to run the unit.

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