Financial statements can be satisfying, since they mark the culmination of lots of hard work. They can be dreaded, if we know they won’t say what we want. But a “personal passion”? That’s what they are if you’re CPA Link instructor Geni Whitehouse.

Whitehouse says that most people just don’t understand financial statements, and adds that it’s pretty depressing when “you spend your days creating something no one can understand — especially when it’s in balance and everything.”

Whitehouse’s advice is that you can’t solve the problem of financial statements that fall flat — whether they’re unintelligible, boring, or have minimal value — just by changing the medium.

For example, even if you update your presentation from a printed report to a glitzy PowerPoint, it “does nothing to improve the meaning or value of the information. Boring information on paper equals boring information on slides,” Whitehouse says.

There’s also a real danger (aside from the yawns) in presenting unintelligible data, she warns. Since many clients don’t understand the information we provide, many of our services can be undervalued and all that good, sensible advice we provide is ignored.

Whitehouse teaches practitioners how to present dynamic financial statements that also help their clients make better financial decisions.

She likens much of the information we provide to clients as a rearview mirror. In fact, she points out, what is wanted is a crystal ball.

There are some basic tools she advocates, including Excel add-ins, dashboards, reporting tools and interactive scorecards.

What the client wants to know, Whitehouse points out, is:

* What do I do tomorrow?
* Am I on the right track?
* How do I compare with others in my industry?
* How do I drive behaviors?

Whitehouse is a comedian, self-proclaimed nerd, former technology executive and CPA firm partner with a “burning love of all things techie.”

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