What's Your Financial Information Style?

By Denise Dooley

Are you a person who learns by doing? Or would you rather watch someone else show you how it’s done before you give it a try? When the box says, “some assembly required,” do you locate and read the directions first, or do you dump all of the pieces out on the floor and see what fits where? When it comes to financial information, people have style preferences, too.

Often financial information is presented in the form of “financial statements.” For some people, these reports make perfect sense and tell them exactly what they need to know. For others, the reports are just a bunch of noise, and they want their accountant to “just tell me how I’m doing.” Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple.

Thankfully, the rise of technology has given accounting firms the option of presenting financial information in graphic formats with any number of visual “bells and whistles.” With a couple extra clicks of a mouse, the people who need or want charts and graphs to make things clearer can have those formats now. As with any technology, some people don’t need or want bells and whistles. They can still be provided with financial information in the same format they’re accustomed to. Both style preferences can be accommodated. And regardless of presentation, as long as the underlying financial statements adhere to generally accepted accounting principles, then the graphic reports are acceptable as well.

So, whether you’re providing or receiving the information, how do you make sure it’s in the most effective format? Communication! Ask your client what their financial information style is. Clients, even if you aren’t asked, don’t be shy about letting your accounting professional know your style and preferences. If the financial reports aren’t meeting a need for you, be very clear with your provider about what you need and how you need it presented – “just the facts” rows and columns of numbers and labels? – or “bells and whistles” with graphics and perhaps even animation? It’s your information, so be sure it’s presented to you in a way that doesn’t confuse or intimidate you. Have it complement your style!

Denise Dooley | Accounting Specialist