"We should not be surprised that people have no idea what we do, [because] there are many people that are simply selling product and collecting a commission," he said. But potential clients "don't know about fee-based models, commission-based models or a combination," Kelley added. "I mean, after all, [why do] most people seek out help? They want advice.
"I think that our industry needs to be more clear and up-front about how we get paid and let the consumer make their own choice," he said.
Kelley provides a big-picture overview to clarify the profession to the public.
"For most advisors, the investment side is only part of the puzzle," he said. "For us, it is generally the idea that financial planning is achieving a balance between saving, spending and investing so that clients and their families can live an enjoyable life, pay for college and fund a dignified retirement."
— By Deborah Nason, special to CNBC.com