YOUR PRACTICE-Five tips for effective client meetings

Tue May 21, 2013 7:59am EDT
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By Suzanne Barlyn

May 21 (Reuters) - Keeping clients on track during one-on-one strategy sessions is often a tricky balancing act. It requires planners to acknowledge the deep emotions that are usually attached to the financial lives of their clients. At the same time, advisers must keep the discussion from straying too far from the careful decision-making that goes into every financial plan.

Many advisers manage to straddle the line between the personal and the practical by carefully preparing before each meeting and by using timely verbal cues when sitting face-to-face with the client.

Now is a good time for advisers to brush up on those skills. The Dow Jones industrial average recently eclipsed 15,000 - a record high and a wake-up call to clients who have shied away from investing in recent years, said Laura Mattia, a principal at Baron Financial Group, a Fair Lawn, New Jersey-based registered investment adviser.

"They've been sitting on the sidelines and realize they need a strategy," Mattia said.

When such clients finally meet with their advisers, however, unexpected, often emotionally charged concerns can surface. A client who recently met with Mattia to discuss investments revealed that he was sick and needed to update his estate planning documents, she said.

Here are five strategies that advisers use to stay in charge of the discussion while maintaining an emotional bond with clients: