Choosing the right retirement planner can be the difference between retiring now or not retiring at all.

According to an Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) study conducted in August, 52.8 percent of Baby Boomers and 62.5 percent of Generations Xers have not consulted a financial advisor.

Why is it that so few people, whether they are president of a company or are younger and still building their nest eggs, seek financial planning advice from a professional?

I believe a large part of it is due to lack of education. Some people may think they understand financial planning because they bought stock through an online retailer. The reality is a quality retirement plan is much more involved than simply picking the hot stock of the day.

So what does a retirement planner do that you may not be doing as an individual?

Planners have different approaches. At Kelly Financial Services, my focus is on asset preservation. Retirement planning is more about establishing an income you can’t outlive and ensuring you don’t lose money. In other words, rather than trying to grow your wealth, my goal is to protect and preserve your wealth.

Protecting your assets from the volatility of our economy is also something a financial coach will help you with when you are preparing for retirement.

With the guidance and assistance of a financial advisor, you don’t have to resign yourself to risking your nest egg. There are steps you can take to protect your financial security. First, a financial advisor will help you understand all the options that are available to you. If you’re at or near retirement, they will help you begin setting goals and finding the right investment vehicles that can generate a fair rate of return without exposing you to market risk. Products like this are out there. You just need to work with an advisor who is using them.

If you think good advice is out of your league, you just haven’t found the right advisor for you yet. If you already have a financial planner and are wondering if he or she is the right fit for you, there a couple questions you can ask yourself:

When was that last time you spoke to him or her? Do they specialize in retirement planning? Do they listen to your comments or rant about sure-thing investments? Are you confident enough in your planner that you wouldn’t need to seek a second opinion? Are they charging you fees that could be delaying your retirement?

These are crucial things to consider. Don’t suspend making decisions on your financial future because the task seems too cumbersome. Taking that first step in seeking professional advice is the most important step you can take.

John T. Kelly is President of Kelly Financial Services, a financial services firm based in Oak Lawn, IL. John has been in the financial services industry for nearly two decades. During this time, John has helped hundreds of clients in the Chicago area with their estate planning and investment planning needs.