Should You Let a Rookie Advisor Manage Your Money?

By Hal M. Bundrick

NEW YORK (MainStreet) Most likely, everyone would agree that hiring a financial advisor based on a referral from a trusted friend or family member is the best way to go. But if your brother-in-law's advisor is in jail for mail fraud and your aunt's advisor is so old he should have retired ten years ago, what are you going to do?

You pick out a firm, walk through the door and take your chances. Most likely you'll meet the "broker of the day." A random financial advisor, usually just starting out, who will be eager to sign you up, transfer-in your assets and get you fully invested right away. Should you fear having a rookie advisor manage your assets?

"Every surgeon performs her first operation, every pilot flies his first plane," says Andrew T. Gardener, a Houston-based advisor and founder of Tanglewood Legacy Advisors. "Financial advisors are no different, except their minimum training may be just that: minimum. Rather than years of training, the average financial advisor may have only weeks."

Weeks of training and now you're going to hand over every nickel of retirement assets you've managed to scrape together over the years. Perhaps "fear" was too weak of a word to describe the feelings you'll have.

"Investors should be cautious about dealing with anyone with less than a year of experience," Gardener tells MainStreet. "I am being very kind to rookies when I say one year. I actually prefer that they should have been advising through an entire market cycle, including both a bear and bull market. I would also like them to have some personal life experiences so that they are able to appreciate both the opportunities and pressures their clients may face."

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