Accounting & Infographics

I’ve worked in accounting for three years.  I’ve studied accounting in University for nine years.  And I’ve taught accounting for fifteen years:

My life

And I have a question.  Why do accountants use so few infographics?  Here’s a Venn Diagram to explain the problem:

How Accounting relates to Infographics
Accounting is the language of business.  It accumulates, classifies and reports financial information.  Infographics is “graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education” (Wikipedia retrieved April 23, 2012).  It seems to me that accounting and infographics should complement each other: Accounting provides financial information and data, and infographics present it in a graphically revealing way.  But this almost never happens.  Why not?

This is not to say that some companies’ financial statements don’t include basic infographics.  The best example I know of is Pepsico‘s notes to financial statements.  Here are a few charts from Pepsico’s Financial Highlights:

Pepsico

And yet, when compared to how beautifully infographic artists can portray such mundane information as subway maps and the European debt crisis, Pepsico’s accounting bar graphs and pie charts seem pathetically gratuitious.

How much I like their graphical presentations
So, for all we accountants love to trash the subways and the New York Times, why do we fail so miserably at presenting our information better than they do?
Ladies and gentlemen of the accounting profession: How can we do better?
About these ads

About Mark P. Holtzman

Chair of Accounting Department at Seton Hall University. PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. Worked at Deloitte's New York Office. BSBA from Hofstra University.

4 comments

  1. Pingback: Infographic On Becoming CPA « The Summa

  2. Kendall

    Hi Mark,

    I couldn’t agree more. I just started at a big four firm as a grad this year and am oblivious as to why there is such a disconnect between the two. I think in order to survive in these lean times we need to be moving toward the value add side of things. I thought this video sums up the potential of infographics in terms of communicating a lot of data clearly and quickly:

    http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672709/watch-a-superb-introduction-to-the-wide-world-of-infographics

    This is something that accountants sometimes struggle to do as we believe all clients have the same financial literacy as us!

    • Thanks, Kendall for the comment. There seems little or no sign of any change right now, eh?

      • Kendall

        No, unfortunately not…

        But I think change may be near, at least in my home country as we’ve had some legislative changes come through the pipelines that has cut most compliance for SMEs. If we don’t move soon towards something like this, we will be losing a lot of clients as they no longer need big bulky accounts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers

%d bloggers like this: