A flippant, fearless, and fundamental countdown of big money investing.

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#42 Connectors

Charlie Ruffel, Trusted Connector

John Gutfreund, on my first day at Salomon Brothers in 1986, told me, “You are joining an industry with by far the largest concentration of assholes—which is why, when you find the people you admire and trust, hang onto them for dear life.”

In hindsight, his words resemble an airline safety briefing more than a welcome speech. Yet it was, and is, true: In the 30 years I have spent exploring the investment industrial complex, I have met few people more admirable and trustworthy than my friend Charlie Ruffel.

I met Charlie more than 20 years ago. I was immediately struck by his charisma, energy, creativity, and—most importantly—trustworthiness. What was true then remains true now: He is still delivering straight talk and unvarnished views, but always with good intent and respect. Unlike most people in Gutfreund’s dystopian version of our industry, he gives credit selflessly, confronts reality, and learns from his mistakes. Rather than pursuing some abstract goal or plan, his compass is to be the best man he can be, personally and professionally.

In addition to personifying these qualities, he actively works to make those around him better. Our industry is a far better place for all the people Charlie has touched. Charlie is the very definition of a ‘trust bridge’—someone who connects two parties by leveraging a common trust. I’ve lost count of the number of times he has connected me with individuals and firms that proved vital to my success, and made these connections happen with no expectation for gain on his part.

Nothing motivates or inspires people like having trust extended to them; it brings out the best in people. He has brought out the best in me. He has been and remains a role model for how I conduct my professional and personal relationships; he is one of my most treasured friends and advisors.

Other than his unique sense of humor, the quality I most admire is his ability to listen, learn, and see possible connections others cannot. His vision of what is possible is why he has played such a major role in our industry’s constant innovation. Henry Ford said it best: “If there is any great secret of success in life, it lies in the ability to put yourself in the other person’s place and to see things from his point of view—as well as your own.”

Maarten Nederlof is CEO and CIO of Risk Premium Investment Management Company. Charlie Ruffel founded Chief Investment Officer.

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