Max Saffian
Fortress Investment Group

A born-and-bred New Yorker, Max Saffian got into finance the old-fashioned way — as a runner. The son of a stockbroker-turned–research analyst and a prekindergarten teacher, Saffian, 36, who majored in political science at Columbia University, knew from a young age he wanted to work in finance. By 16 he was running for a high-yield bond broker. (Before the universal adoption of electronic trading and Bloomberg terminals, someone would sprint between traders to deliver bids and offers.)

After graduating from Columbia in 2002, Saffian continued kicking it old-school, landing a job as a junior analyst with W.R. Huff Asset Management Co., a high-yield bond fund firm based in Morristown, New Jersey. Huff took a traditional, research-intensive approach to investing, and Saffian learned the art of lengthy research memos.

In 2006, on the lookout for new opportunities, he got a call from a recruiter hiring for Peter Briger Jr.’s credit team at Fortress Investment Group in New York. Saffian interviewed with Briger lieutenants Andrew McKnight and Leslee Cowen and landed the job, starting out as an associate. He has been with the $70 billion publicly traded alternative-investment firm ever since, becoming a core member of its credit investment group.

In 2011, Saffian moved to a new San Francisco office with Briger, McKnight and others on the credit team. For Saffian, now a managing director with FIG, the change was quite an adjustment: He didn’t even have a driver’s license. In the month before the big West Coast move, he took lessons and passed his road test (though on hearing the news Briger swore he will never get in a car driven by his young trader). Saffian has adapted to the healthy, outdoorsy San Francisco Bay Area lifestyle. He even took up jogging, but now having sons aged three months and one year has put pay to such a workout regime.

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