Creatives are from Mars, Accountants are from Venus

  • by Paul Barnes
  • January 4, 2015
  • No Comments

‘My accountant doesn’t understand me!’

‘Accountants like numbers and facts. I have to have one, but there’s no way I can explain how our creative agency works.’

‘Why would I bother talking about creative ideas with my accountant?’

‘It’s like my accountant is from another planet.’

The disconnect between creatives and accountants

31723894We can’t tell you if those are exact quotes or not, but judging from the feedback we receive when we start talking to creative agencies about their accountants, they’d be a fair representation!

We are all guilty of stereotyping, but there’s nothing wrong with accepting that certain groups of people have certain types of characteristics.

And when it comes to accountants talking to creatives, there is a bit of a disconnect.

Accountants tend to be orderly, definitive, rule-focused creatures.  There are debits and credits, right and wrong, legal and illegal.  There are tax laws to be investigated, and although they can be complex, there is an answer to be found. If the columns don’t add up, investigation is done until they do, and the goal is to make everything equal.

Creatives, on the other hand, are in the business of breaking the rules and stretching the boundaries.  They said it couldn’t be done? You’re there to test that theory.  Your client wants a bold new logo, but has no idea where to begin? You’ve got it covered.  Without even trying to, you’re coming up with new ideas all the time, trying something different, changing the process you had last month.  Nothing stays the same.

If you haven’t read it, no doubt you’ve heard of the book ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ by John Gray. The book was written to address the fact that men and women have a different approach to most things – so if you want to communicate properly with the opposite sex, you need to know their approach so you can have a conversation. (Just as you would if an alien from Mars or Venus arrived on your doorstep.)

‘We usually become angry or frustrated with the opposite sex because we’ve forgotten this important truth:  We expect the opposite sex to be like ourselves.’ – John Gray, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

If you are the creative type, you’ll often find it difficult to talk to accountants (and vice versa), because no matter what you know about accountants in general, it’s incredibly frustrating when they don’t think like you do.

So here are a few of our tips to understanding how the accountant thinks and works. If you consider these before talking to your accountant, it might help you not to get too frustrated.

Remember this about how your accountant thinks and works:

  • Accountants hate fluffy edges.
    • We know most creatives hate solid boundaries and want to push the envelope.  If you’re telling your accountant about your brilliant new idea, they may push back if it doesn’t seem to have any defined edges.
  • Accountants intentionally create order.
    • Creatives intentionally create chaos. That’s what you’re there to do, actually. You want to stir people up, get them thinking differently and ‘outside the lines’.  The beauty of your accountant creating order is that it helps you to have clarity on your brilliant new idea.
  • Accountants talk in terms of routes.
    • Creatives talk in terms of direction.  You’re satisfied with going this way, or towards that goal, or to develop something rather like this product (but different).  Your accountant will want to know exactly how you’re going to get there, so they can help you understand if it is viable.
  • Accountants can’t wait for it to be finished.
    • Creatives don’t really want to finish.  You are happy to go on to the next best thing, to have five or six projects on the go at once. Your accountant has deadlines that they work to – tax return deadlines, dates that regulations kick in – and that’s a huge benefit to you because if you have a trustworthy, dependable accountant, you can focus on your creating knowing that the tax return has been finished and submitted properly.
  • Accountants like software that prevents creativity.
    • Creatives love software that allows for creativity. You don’t want to use something that pushes you into a corner – even when it comes to accounts or bookkeeping.
  • Creativity in accountancy is a bad word.
    • Creativity for creatives is bread and butter! Obviously!  But it’s positive news for you that your accountant isn’t being creative – that could cost you massively.
  • Accountants talk in deliberate, realistic terms.
    • Creatives are optimistic, excited, looking to the future.  What’s interesting is that most accountants don’t mean to be pessimistic. They just know the costs, the penalties, and the repercussions, and they care about you and your business and want to protect you. If your accountant is being ‘too realistic’, remember that it stems from their desire to do the best possible job they can, and protect you and your creative agency.
  • Accountants like definites.
    • Creatives like uncertainty.  It’s fun when things are uncertain, because it tests your abilities and provides a challenge. For the accountant, that is not fun. It’s scary and difficult, and can lead to multiple problems down the road.  Again, remember that your accountant is focusing on what is known rather than unknown so that you don’t have to.

How to bridge the communication gap: Xero

We have beautiful news. This communication gap can be bridged in an instant with the beauty that is Xero.

It’s an online accounting software that has all the hard-and-fast numbers that accountants love – all of the definitive order and deadlines we love – and yet when you log in and view your dashboard, or generate reports, you get pretty graphs and simple views and the most important information right at your fingertips.

Read more about Xero

Consider the communication gap when talking to your accountant …

You may be surprised to discover that our closing suggestion is that you try to get on with your accountant – she/he is just trying to express their world in their own way.

It must be added, though, that if you’re constantly angry or frustrated with your accountant, despite many efforts to have a positive or helpful conversation, please do feel free to talk to us.  We love creative agencies and the ones we work with love us, too!


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