The role a financial advisor can play in a clients life is a mystery to many, according to McAdam LLC, an independent financial advisory firm with five offices in the eastern United States.

Thirty-six percent of the 2,143 people surveyed said they do not have a strong understanding of what a financial advisor does, according to a survey by McAdam released Thursday.

Even among individuals who say they have a strong understanding of what a financial advisor providing holistic advice does, there is a lack of understanding about a number of other factors, according to the survey.

Only 36 percent know financial advisors can help clients evaluate career decisions and only 21 percent say financial advisors can help clients navigate through personal relationship issues. At the same time, 34 percent did not know financial advisors can help clients with life changes such as getting married, having a baby or getting a new job, according to the survey.

The term financial advisor can be inadequate because, although we deal primarily with our clients finances, we need to have a full understanding of their larger life goals and their personal issues in order to advise them effectively, said Michael McAdam, CEO of McAdam.