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Finding Trading Mentors: Do You Need One, and Where to Look?

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September 7, 2016
Playbook strategy: Finding a trading mentor: why and where to look

If you’re new to the stock market and want to learn how to trade, or even if you’re a seasoned trader who’s simply stuck in a rut, finding a trading mentor can be the answer.

In the seminal investing book Market Wizards, legendary trader Paul Tudor Jones recounts how he learned his craft by standing next to famed cotton speculator Eli Tullis and watching him trade. Traditionally, that’s the kind of personal relationship we envision when it comes to a trading mentor, but today, thanks to technology, a mentorship can take many different forms.

Before you look for a trading mentor, first determine if you’re ready for one. Not ready in the sense of your market knowledge or skill level, but ready in terms of your ability to be open to new ideas, suggestions, and even criticism.

By definition, a mentor is someone who has more experience than you do in a given area. Much of that experience may be vastly different from your own. If you aren’t willing to listen, learn, and most important, put your ego aside when working with a mentor, you are liable to find it a pointless endeavor. In short, if you go down this path, try to be humble and open-minded.

Finding a Mentor in the Wild

So, assuming you’re ready to find a mentor, where can you start?

One place would be your local investing group. Most cities have groups that meet regularly to talk about trading, investing, and the stock market in general. These groups often have long-term members with deep market knowledge and varied backgrounds who are more than willing to help less-experienced traders.

If there aren’t any investing clubs near you, or if you aren’t comfortable in social settings, you can join a free online trading community, where you should begin to recognize those traders who have the most experience and are willing to share their knowledge.

Whether in person or online, remember that a trading mentorship is a relationship, and like any relationship, it takes time for it to develop and solidify.

Don’t just show up to an investor meeting or go online and announce that you’re looking for a mentor. Instead, identify someone who provides value on a regular basis. Listen to them. Get to know them. Ask a question from time to time, but don’t overdo it. Then, as you begin to develop a rapport, ask if you could talk in a bit more depth about their trading experiences, whether over a cup of coffee or in an online chat.

Remember, not everyone is interested in being a mentor. If you get turned down, don’t dwell on it or take it personally. Just see if you can find someone else who might be better suited for that dynamic.

What About a Pro?

If it turns out that you can’t find a mentor in either of these ways, you can always engage a professional mentor using a paid service. In fact, there are some clear advantages to this approach.

True, a free mentor saves you money, but because they’re free, you’ll have to work around their schedule and availability. And although they may have a lot of practical knowledge, they may not be good at teaching. A professional mentor will have a more focused approach, and despite the cost, you’re likely to get more value per hour than from a casual mentorship.

In the end, no matter what type you choose or where you find them, working with a trading mentor will only help you to become a better trader and investor. 

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