IDS Financial Services, American Express Co.'s financial planning unit, will take on a new name Jan. 1.

In changing its moniker to American Express Financial Advisors. the company said it hopes to "leverage the power of the American Express brandname." The switch should help IDS reach new clients among American Express' 5 million U.S. cardholders, the company said in a news release.

The company provides its financial planning services through several banks, including First Bank System, Minneapolis.

IDS Financial Services' sales representatives, now called "financial planners," will be dubbed "financial advisors" under the new regime, because company research has shown that customers prefer the latter term.

But Dave Hubers, the company's chief executive, said the focus on financial planning won't change.

"Financial planning is the most important thing that distinguishes us from our competitors," he said in a prepared statement.

IDS has been testing the American Express name in Boston, Ft. Worth, Tex., Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Paramus, N.J.

Four affiliated companies - IDS Tax and Business Services, IDS Securities Services, IDS Institutional Retirement Services, and IDS Trust - will adopt the American Express name. But several other units, including the IDS Mutual Funds, will retain their names.

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