Every accountant prepares the basic financial statements—balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements. But do your clients know how to read them? Do they understand how to use them to make decisions and drive their business success? In short, do they love their financial statements? And, by extension, do they love you, the accountant who provides them?

All accountants present data, but the way to the client’s heart and a long-term relationship is through the way you present the data, says CPA Geni Whitehouse, a CPE Link instructor and expert in client communications. Aptly, she teaches a course called, How to Present Financial Statements Your Client Will Love.

“The secret is to think like the client and understand what they want. Typically, financial statements give clients a rear view mirror when they really want a crystal ball,” says Whitehouse. Accountants can build client loyalty and give themselves a competitive edge by adding value to the difficult-to-comprehend financial statements. Ways to add value include:

Interpret financial metrics in a language that the client understands
Connect financial statements to operational metrics
Perform financial projections and “what-if” scenarios
Show how the client’s business compares to competitors in the industry

Do this and you become more than a bean counter to your client; you become an advisor.

What response do you get when you deliver a financial statement to your client?