When talking to new clients, many advisors get right to the numbers, walking prospects through budgets and investment strategies that will help make their retirement years golden.

Not Robert K. O'Dell. He wants to talk about families - kids, parents and grandparents - and not just who they are, but where they live and how much the clients are involved in their lives. Then he'll ask about milestones: when or whether the clients plan to retire or move, and when they expect their kids to complete college, marry or have children of their own. His mission: Understand the emotional issues that inspire individuals to see a planner in the first place.

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