Many U.S. consumers might be preparing to make big investments.[@@]

Kenneth Chenault, chairman of American Express Company, New York, gave that assessment Thursday during a financial community presentation.

Chenault focused mainly on the company’s payment card unit, but he also talked about American Express Financial Advisors, Minneapolis.

The current economic environment “has clearly presented challenges for the entire financial services industry,” Chenault said during the presentation, according to a written version of his remarks.

The market is less than robust, regulatory costs are up and investors are uncertain, Chenault said.

But, “while clients have been reluctant to increase investment levels given the uncertainty in the markets, they have increased their planning activity,” Chenault said.

The increase in planning is “setting the stage for potentially higher sales once confidence in the markets improves,” Chenault said.