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Accounting

Improve financial reports with visual business data

Christina Sullivan  CPA

Christina Sullivan  CPA

Throughout the years, we have shifted to a more visual culture. Americans and global citizens alike hold an expectation that the data they consume will come with a visual element – whether in school, at work, or while experiencing their preferred choice of entertainment.

What is visual culture?

This phenomenon of a visual culture is defined as the aspect of culture expressed in visual images. There is a field of study related to visual culture, which aggregates “visual events in which information, meaning, or pleasure is sought by the consumer in an interface with visual technology.” The term visual technology refers to any media designed for the purposes of perception or with the potential to expand the reader’s visual capability.

Tax and accounting firms know that visual storytelling and infographics are an effective way of communicating a company’s message, values, and performance. Infographics can summarize complicated financial information, for example, into a more aesthetically pleasing and appealing format for the client.

How is visual storytelling changing the way accounting firms communicate financial data?

Financial statement users, and data consumers in general, have shorter attention spans when it comes to the information they are internalizing. Infographics and other visual mediums of communication are now more in demand than traditional words on paper or screens, which used to be the common vessel for information and data exchange.

If you think about it, shared images on the internet and social media can become assets in their own right. If accounting firms aren’t engaging in this space of online visual data sharing, they are putting their competitors at an advantage over them. The other side is that they could become a liability too, if burdened with inaccurate or sloppy data.

No longer just a novelty, infographics are a critical element of information transfer and marketing for tax and accounting firms. Nonprofit and governmental entities also rely greatly on the use of infographics to share operational successes and achievements with their stakeholders.

Think about it – individuals are far more likely to read (and share!) a visual summary of an organization’s success than they are its annual report.

How accounting firms can use visual data to improve financial reports

Lengthy financial reports aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They are a key component of financial reporting and likely always will be. Infographics, on the other hand, can condense and summarize a wealth of text and number data into a single image. This format is easier and more engaging for clients and readers, so they can understand and retain a larger scale of financial data as they move through the report.

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Checkpoint Learning has an excellent, brief course on the history of infographics and how they have been incorporated into business data sharing throughout the years. Grow your expertise with a CPE subscription package and achieve your goals, your way.

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