If you're like most advisors working with the wealthy, you could use more free time-and don't want to sacrifice your earnings to get it. But it is indeed possible to maximize your free time and increase your income in the process.

First, advisors need to realize that time and money fly out the window every time an affluent client is engaged ineffectively. For a client meeting to be productive, advisors need to listen intently and with insight. They have to ask thought-provoking questions and position ideas in a compelling way that makes clients more inclined to be decisive. It's hard work, but it helps advisors gain a client's trust and "close the deal."

When one meeting becomes three because you failed to ask the right questions in the first and second meetings, didn't listen to the client well enough, or couldn't decide on a strategy, you have effectively decreased your income potential by a third-and lost your free time in the process.

Problems And Solutions
Here are some telltale signs that you are losing time-and losing ground-in client or prospect meetings along with suggestions on how to make meetings more productive:

The repeating client: When clients start to repeat themselves, stop talking. It indicates they think you aren't listening. They are very likely becoming frustrated, and as their frustration rises, your credibility decreases.

There is only one way out of this hole: Play back what they are trying to say so they understand you were indeed listening. It could sound like this:

"Agnes, you've mentioned a couple of times how critical it is that your investments deliver excellent returns but that you want to be sure that your retirement is secure. If I understand you correctly, you like the idea of aggressive investing, as long as your retirement options won't be put at risk. Is that correct? What am I missing?"

Reflecting their words back to them yields huge returns for you and your client. Clients will likely relax after seeing that you really do care about what they have to say. They may feel it's safe to let some of their guard down. At this point, pay close attention. Take notes. They may hand you the essence of their hopes and fears.
Clients taking control: Intentionally or unintentionally, clients can steal control of a meeting and put you on the defensive just by asking a question. You may not even realize that it's happening. Respond with care in these situations.

"How long have you been managing money?" can be an innocent inquiry or it can be the client's way of confirming that his current investment advisor is better than you. When affluent clients ask you questions-even seemingly simple questions-respond with a short answer and immediately follow up with the phrase, "Tell me what you're thinking." Said with the right tone of voice-nonchalantly and with genuine interest-this question most often leads to full disclosure. Now your answer can be based on your more in-depth understanding of the intent behind the question.

Don't trust adjectives: Adverbs are no better. When clients share their stories, they will often start with flowery language with no meaning. Your job is to get past this artificial barrier to find out what's really on clients' minds and give them the advice they need.