Chris Lee standing in front of a mountain lake Chis Lee (MAcc 2017) grew up in Ames, Iowa. Now situated in The Big Apple, Lee told us about the framework for his career, where it has taken him and why he attributes his success to the School of Accountancy.

At 13 years old, Lee began his most cherished hobby, considering himself a “sneakerhead,” collecting, selling and trading second-hand sneakers in the multi-million-dollar industry. He still practices the hobby and credits it for sparking his interest in pricing.

The 2008 financial crisis had a strong impact on Lee’s career choice. He decided to take the “safe” route in light of the unstable environment his brother faced as he graduated.

“At the time, there were maybe three schools nationally that had a data emphasis or track in accounting and DU was one of them,” Lee said. “Coupled with the excellent reputation for the accounting program, and a city with improving economic prospects, the University of Denver had the complete package for educational and post-graduation opportunities.”

Coming from a family with no business background or connections, Lee reflected on how much of an impact Daniels College of Business had in kickstarting his career. Although, he was not always set on the accounting track. As an analytically minded individual, he joined the accounting program—after initially pursuing an undergrad degree in biology—figuring he would find more stability in the profession.

“Graduate school was the year I felt like I transitioned from being a student to a professional,” Lee said. “The coaching I received from everyone—Jeff Woods, Jodye Whitsell, Professors Suzette Loving, Kathleen Davisson and Sharon Lassar—is something I will always be grateful for.

“At every position I’ve had, I have been known as a data ‘wizard’ and that traces back to many of the skills I developed at DU. I really enjoy the role I have today because it’s pairing of data and finance.”Chris Lee in a soccer jersey standing on a field

After his time at DU, Lee started his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers in financial services audit, where he specialized in asset and wealth management clients. There, he applied knowledge of SQL, database design, SOC Reports and software like Tableau, which he learned in Kathleen Davisson’s and Suzette Loving’s classes.

Building on this framework gave him the confidence to pursue his dream to move to NYC and work in wealth management. Understanding cashflow, accruals, interest rates and similar accounting concepts gave context to the data. Lee says that mastering accounting allowed him to better synthesize pricing data in order to build the toolkits to manipulate and process the data. He urges executive track-minded young people to follow in his footsteps so they are allowed the same depth of understanding. 

While in New York, he was selected to run the LIBOR cessation reporting for all of wealth management at JPMorgan Chase, which he describes as “the painful springboard to get promoted to vice president.” He was promoted to VP after his first year at the bank and third year after graduation. Since then, he has become the global lending pricing manager for wealth management.

In his professional life, Lee is passionate about the connection of data to the real world. “I love seeing the narrative about a company or individual in journalism or a news story and getting to see the trickle-down impacts of the data,” he said. He also finds the people that he works with to be an invaluable part of his professional experience. “It’s really fun getting to work with a dedicated and intelligent group of people,” he said.

What are his plans for the future? Lee says: “I hope to remain in Manhattan for the rest of my life and start a family here. I am fortunate enough to have met my partner and we recently moved in together. My next goal is to continue to climb the thrilling corporate ladder, as I hope to continue in my career progression at JPMorgan.”