Christopher Letts, a Broad College alumnus, is no stranger to recognition. Since his early days as a Spartan, Letts has been making waves in his community and has received honors in his industry. Forbes named him a member of the Best-in-State Next-Gen Wealth Advisors for both its 2018 and 2019 classes. In addition, Letts has been honored as a Five Star Wealth Manager by Hour Detroit every year since 2013.
On Sept. 23, DBusiness magazine released its list of 30 in Their Thirties. This annual series profiles noteworthy industry leaders in the metro Detroit region who’ve achieved success in their respective professions. The Broad College of Business was well represented on this year’s list by alums Blake George (B.A. General Management ’09), Robert Platt (B.A. Hospitality Business ’04), Nathan Steiner (B.A. Finance ’03) and, last but not least, Letts (B.A. Finance ’06).
When asked about the DBusiness recognition, Letts described the impact of being acknowledged by those directly connected to him. “I think this honor is especially meaningful to me because I have been recognized as a leader in Detroit by those who work and lead in this city,” he said. “I often feel it’s more difficult — and significant, for that matter — to be recognized by those who actually know you.”
He added, “There are 4.3 million people who live in Metro Detroit. To make a list of only 30 in their thirties is also very special for me.”
Letts enrolled at MSU in 2002 as the first in his family to attend college. While earning his degree, he worked several jobs and internships, including starting his own painting company after his freshman year. He interned at Daimler Chrysler after his sophomore year as the only undergraduate manufacturing intern in the entire company. After his junior year, he spent the summer as a finance intern at General Mills. Upon graduation, Letts joined Morgan Stanley as a financial advisor.
He currently serves as vice president of The Pine Harbor Group, a wealth management firm within Morgan Stanley that he co-founded at the age of 29. Letts noted that, considering that the average wealth management advisor is about 60 years old, his age was an issue for some clients at the outset. “I have overcome that challenge by creating a culture and expertise within Pine Harbor that specializes in meeting the precise needs of these unique clients,” he said.
Letts, now 35, pointed out how his age has turned into a major strength compared to “more seasoned” advisors. “My relatively young age is now a tremendous asset as the families I serve know I will be alongside them for the next 30 years, serving their needs and the needs of their children, something a 60-year-old advisor can’t say.”
In addition to his work with Pine Harbor, Letts serves as chairman of the Detroit chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. Prior to becoming chairman, he was president of the chapter, another milestone in his career. Letts was the youngest president that had ever been selected for the chapter and the youngest president of any of the ACG’s 58 chapters, made up of 14,500 members worldwide. In July, Letts was honored by ACG with its Global Meritorious Service Award to recognize his exceptional leadership and service as the president of ACG Detroit.
“Being a leader within ACG is important to me because it is the top organization that represents the interests of middle-market businesses — those with revenues between $10 million and $1 billion — throughout the world,” Letts said. “The work we do is extremely important and very relevant to the types of entrepreneurial clients that I serve at Pine Harbor Group here at Morgan Stanley.”
Letts also touched on how Broad has impacted his career. “I often compete against graduates from prestigious business schools from around the world,” he said. “I believe my education at Broad gave me all of the conceptual knowledge required to understand the complexities of the global financial markets.”
He is still very much a part of his alma mater, serving as a member of the Department of Finance Advisory Board within the Broad College. In this capacity, Letts acts as both a mentor to students and an advisor to the department chair.
Letts went on to note how the relationships that students in the Broad College create can benefit them long after graduation. “Even more important, I benefited from my fellow Broad students who pushed me to compete in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise done on my own — many of whom are still my dear friends.”