7 tips to bring financial reports to life for your clients

Business client looks at wall display of data and financial reports on a wall from accountants #reporting

Help your clients get the most out of data visualisation and insights. Give them genuine confidence in their long-term planning and decision-making.
Reporting is visual, innovative and insightful. Move away from cold numbers and break down the communication barriers that may exist between you and your business clients.

1. Understand their business model
Get a detailed grasp of your client’s core objectives, internal processes and revenue drivers. This will help you understand what your client needs to work on, and what their reports should be saying. From here you can set key performance indicators (KPIs) which will help manage their finances.

2. Get under the skin of the business and its people
Each business is unique. The people, culture and personalities in the company influence how the business functions. Get to know the key management team – and what’s important to them – to effectively highlight the goals and objectives that carry weight for this business.

3. Put the right metrics and KPIs in place
Break down the important areas of financial focus to provide the right metrics and data. With the correct metrics and KPIs in place, you’ll start to see a clear overview of the business’ financial performance. Then you can make the necessary adjustments to improve.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of visual communication
Charts, graphs and other visual representations of client data will make the insights jump out. Numbers don’t speak to everyone, and that can limit the insight your clients can get from them. For example, if the ‘costs’ slice of the pie is bigger than the ‘gross margin’ slice, spending issues become clear.

5. Don’t just focus on the financials
Non-financial metrics often impact on the long-term success of a business. This brings significant added value to the client. Areas like customer satisfaction, social media activity, website hits and customer attrition are all important factors to consider when building management reporting.

6. Use real-world scenarios
Financials make more sense to clients when put in context. If they can relate them to a genuine scenario, their understanding will improve. If the client loses a third of their workforce, how will this impact on their profits in 6 months’ time? That gives the client real confidence in their future.

7. Show performance and progression over time
It’s easy for clients to fall into the trap of seeing their reporting as something static. Show your client’s progression in key metrics from month to month to show how performance is improving, failing or fluctuating over time.

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