Bridging the communication gap: how to avoid glazed-over eyes with clients

January 7, 2024

In the world of accounting, numbers and spreadsheets are the language of business. But not everyone is fluent in that language. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your clients are less engaged, and their eyes start to glaze over in meetings.

Maybe they don’t understand the financial jargon, or they’re overwhelmed by an endless stream of numbers. Have they stopped asking questions? Or scaled back their need for your services? These are common hurdles for any accountant. 

Read on to learn how to break down the communication barrier and enable rich two-way discussions. 

In this article:  

  • Recognising the symptoms  
  • The root of the problem  
  • Moving to a solution 
  • The shifting landscape  
  • Offer value to clients 
  • Embrace the change 

Recognising the symptoms  

Have you encountered clients who seem disengaged, distant, or even bewildered during meetings? Clients’ eyes might glaze over when financial matters are discussed; rarely asking questions or seeking additional assistance. 

 These symptoms are indicators of a communication gap that needs to be addressed — you and your client should be speaking the same language. After all, if you can’t understand each other, you’ll want to move on from the relationship. Clients might consider downgrading their service package or, worse, leaving for another financial service provider. And they'll only ever see you as someone who ticks a compliance box.  

Patrick Arnold quote

The root of the problem  

When it comes to the underlying problem, the research points in one direction: spreadsheets. While spreadsheets are powerful tools for professionals, they can often seem complex and overwhelming for clients. When financial information gets lost in translation, so does your audience. Those who aren’t well-versed in the language of numbers can lose the confidence to speak up or ask questions. Meaningful communication is reduced, and so are business outcomes as a result.   

As accountants, your knowledge and expertise could significantly benefit your clients. However, if you're using the wrong tool to communicate — one that doesn't get your message across to your audience clearly — those benefits may not be realised by your clients.  

Imran Mustafa quote 1-1

Moving to a solution 

For every problem, there is a solution. In this case, it’s about adopting the right tool for clear communication and deeper client understanding of the story behind their numbers. When you’re both speaking the same language around financial insights, communication feels easy, clients understand more, and their business can benefit.  


The shifting landscape  

When your clients understand finances, they become more confident in financial interpretation and can make more informed decisions. 

By nurturing this financial understanding, they begin to value you not just as an accountant but as a trusted advisor. They actively engage in conversations, ask insightful questions, and seek your guidance in various areas of their business. 

Imran Mustafa quote 2-1

Offer value to clients 

Clear communication matters. Here’s why:  

  1. Enhanced financial understanding: Clients grasp financial concepts more easily, leading to better decision-making and strategic planning.  
  2. Better communication: The two-way conversation allows clients to express their needs and goals, leading to a more tailored and effective financial strategy.  
  3. Increased confidence: Armed with financial knowledge, clients approach challenges with confidence, leading to improved business outcomes.  
  4. Trusted advisor relationship: As clients see the value you bring beyond the numbers, you develop a lasting partnership built on trust and collaboration.  
Geni whitehouse quote

Embrace the change  

In the dynamic world of accounting, effective communication is crucial. The days of speaking solely in ‘accountanese’ are over. By shifting towards clear, understandable conversations, your clients see you as a strategic partner in their business, not only a ‘number cruncher’.   

Embrace the change, choose the right tools, and guide your clients as financially fluent decision-makers who seek your guidance to navigate their business journey.  


Are you sure you still want to use spreadsheets?  

There’s a better way. Simplify complex data for clients, and take them through the insights that matter. Try Fathom for free.  

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