Help Your Clients See Their Financial Data


In financial planning and analysis, the term “seeing is believing” is especially true. But why? As a CPA, you love numbers, and understanding them comes naturally. Well, believe it or not, the rest of the population doesn’t feel the same. Numbers, math, and accounting are often confusing and overwhelming to your clients. 

By creating Visual Financial Reports for your clients, you are changing the game by taking advantage of how the human brain naturally collects information. The connection between the human brain and the eyes is truly amazing. Let’s take a peek at a few studies to teach us how “seeing is believing” works.

Gregory’s Visual Assumption Theory

Psychologist Richard Gregory’s theory taught us we form our perceptions starting with the big picture. Our brains make their best guess of what we see based on context clues, beliefs, prior knowledge, expectations, and past experiences. In simpler terms, we make calculated assumptions. According to Gregory, we are most often correct in our beliefs.

He used the Hollow Face Experiment to test his hypothesis. Check it out here.

Lessons for Visual Financial Reports;

  1. Use meaningful headlines to set the expectation. 
  2. Be consistent from report to report to promote understanding. 

Sanocki and Sulman’s Color Relations Experiment

In 2011, Thomas Sanocki and Noah Sulman tested their theory that colors affect people’s ability to remember patterns. They tested people with four sets of color block trials. In each trial, they showed the participants both harmonious and contrasting patterns. Each pattern contained between 9-15 colors. When colors were harmonious, patterns were more easily remembered.

Lessons for Visual Financial Reports;

  1. Reduce color contrast for more complex content. 
  2. Stick with a harmonious color palette. 
  3. Use high contrast between background and visual. 

Larson and Picard’s Study on Typography 

Kevin Larson (Microsoft) and Rosalind Picard (MIT) conducted a study on typography’s influence on a reader’s cognitive ability and mood. 

The participants were divided into two groups; one group had a correctly typeset article, and the other with the same article but with an incorrect typeset. While the participants were reading the article, they were interrupted and asked how much time had passed since the experiment started. Both groups underestimated how much time had passed. The correctly typeset group underestimated the time more significantly. This result shows those reading the correctly typeset article were more engaged in their reading. Therefore, the better the typography, the more comfortable your words are to read and understand. 

Lessons for Visual Financial Reports;

  1. Always use easy to read font with the correct typeset. 
  2. Use whitespace to your advantage by leaving sufficient space between visuals. 
  3. Never put a visual in the middle of any text. 

What does this mean for Financial Planning and Analysis?

Now you have a little more understanding of how the eyes and brain work together to collect visual information. So let’s apply all these things to how you build Financial Reports!  That is where Reach Reporting comes into play; we have already created templates with all of this information in mind. Your clients will be giddy with excitement over the newfound understanding your reports provide. 

Please give us a follow on our social media accounts and see what Reach Reporting can do for you, your business, and your clients. Want more?  Schedule a demo to see our software in action. 

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