Abbot Downing Announces New Hire As Part Of Chicago Office Expansion

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Michael Lee, formerly a partner and head of Corporate & Executive Services at William Blair & Company, is joining Abbot Downing as a relationship manager and wealth planning strategist in Chicago.

He joins a team of more than a dozen professionals providing planning and family dynamics services, asset management, private banking, trust, fiduciary and administrative services in Chicago, where the firm is aggressively expanding as it marks the one-year anniversary of the Abbot Downing brand launch. Abbot Downing, with $33.4 billion in client assets and a 40-year history serving ultra-high-net-worth clients, is part of Wells Fargo’s Wealth, Brokerage and Retirement group, a leading U.S. wealth manager, with $1.4 trillion in client assets.

Since announcing its plans for the new brand in November 2011, Abbot Downing’s client assets have grown more than 20 percent. As part of its Chicago expansion, Abbot Downing will move into prime new office space next year on the 29th floor of 10 S. Wacker St. in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Center.

'Clients across the country have responded very favorably to Abbot Downing and we’re excited to be expanding in Chicago', said Jim Steiner, president of Abbot Downing. 'In our brand research, people told us they wanted an integrated offering of services combined with a high-touch client service experience. With Abbot Downing’s boutique approach and the power of Wells Fargo - one of the top 10 among all U.S. companies in profits and top 15 in U.S. market value - we are uniquely positioned to lead our clients through these times of uncertainty in the markets and the economy'.

Bill Bard, Abbot Downing managing director of the Chicago office, said, 'We are delighted to build a team with such depth and breadth of experience in one of America’s greatest cities. Successful individuals and families are looking for wealth managers who can go beyond the numbers to help them use their wealth to positively impact their families and their communities'.

Lee focuses on the unique issues that face owners and executives of private and public companies. Prior to joining William Blair in 2004, he was a tax attorney with experience in the areas of wealth, tax, and estate planning. In addition to being a faculty member of both Chicago Kent College of Law and John Marshall Law School, Lee also is a Certified Financial Planner and a frequent speaker for national audiences. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association and Chicago Estate Planning Council. 

Before entering the practice of law, Lee was an electrical engineer in the Advanced Avionics Systems Group of General Dynamics Space Systems, where he developed advanced guidance, navigation, and control systems for launch vehicles. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, master’s degree and juris doctorate at Tulane University, and a master of laws degree at Chicago Kent College of Law.

Lee is one of eight professionals the firm has added in the last 12 months to its Chicago office. Additional members of the Abbot Downing team in Chicago include:

  • Steve Alderson, senior portfolio manager
  • Patricia Armstrong, managing director of Family Dynamics
  • Daniel Burke, portfolio manager
  • Shea Brown, client service associate
  • Nadege Draper, operational risk consultant
  • Gabrielle Griffin, relationship manager
  • Andrea Janega, private banking underwriter
  • Katie Johnson, investment analyst
  • Kyle Jorgenson, portfolio manager
  • Jim Wiehe, senior private banker
  • Andrew Wojciak, private banking underwriter

In the Chicago community, Abbot Downing has actively supported the Victory Gardens Theater, the Lone Survivor Foundation and Honor Flight Chicago.

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