3 simple rules for creating graphs your clients will love

We've previously established that as a financial adviser you are highly likely to have an ever-so-slightly-disturbing love affair with graphs...a statistic which increases significantly when the graphs are coloured a delightful shade of corporate blue.



Graphs can be a wonderful way to show trends, progress, comparisons and patterns. They can help simplify complex data, and assist with analysis and drawing conclusions.

But they can also hinder and distort comprehension when they are poorly (and sometimes evilly) designed. Too much data. Wacky axis. Even just poor choices of colour.

Here’s an example of what not to do.

Rick Astley would never

The next time you choose to include a graph in communication with your clients — perhaps projections in a Statement of Advice, or performance in an investment summary — think about these three simple rules:

  1. Comprehend: Does this graph enhance comprehension or reinforce an important point? If not, leave it out.

  2. Remove: Is there anything on the graph that can be removed, without meaning being compromised? If so, get rid of it.

  3. Design: Are your axis clearly labelled, colours distinct, units displayed, data labelled and graph titled? If not, do it.

Keep it simple, and ensure your graphs help the people they're designed to help.

Remember, just because your financial modelling software can do it, doesn't mean you should.