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Death to spreadsheets: How dataviz is transforming finance

The finance sector needs change, fast.

As 2019 comes to a close, both the US and EU banking sectors are feeling the threat of fintech, a saturated market and seeing this reflected in disappointing returns — simply, there are just too many banks. Growth has slowed to its lowest rate in five years, and 75% of noteworthy EU banks are operating below the shareholder equity benchmark.

When a crowded market place is an issue, differentiators are paramount. Finance companies need to work smarter rather than harder, embrace new technologies, and communicate with more persuasion and elegance.

Dataviz works as a solution to all of these issues and more.

The speed at which the market moves is necessitating faster ways to understand, and act on, larger and larger sets of data. Experts can scan through complex tabular spreadsheets and understand exactly the viability, forecasts and critical factors of the information within: but even for experts, this process takes time — and the old adage remains that time is money, and money is precisely the business we are in.

Speed, however, should never be the only goal when introducing new technologies and processes. Haste creates mistakes and errors — and part of the benefit of really seeing what the data is telling you in a visual format is spotting inconsistencies, misleading figures and a more concrete story that becomes glaringly obvious when drawn. Tools that make additional analysis of your data automatic, easy and accurate become indispensable.

Three charts every financial company should be making the greatest use of are the Time Series Graph, Waterfall Chart and, of course, the humble Bar Chart (with a few jazzy extras added):

apple revenue income statement 2017 2019 bar chart projections 2020 Create a stacked bar chart with projections using Vizzlo Big numbers are only part of the story here, made clear by the projections analysis feature in Vizzlo’s bar charts. The iPhone sales may look impressive in figures, but as a financial speculator large markets are not valuable when their growth has peaked—and the small upturn predicted in the Services and Other products sectors don’t make up for the lost revenue in iPhone, Mac and iPad sales downturns.

Create a time series graph with trend lines using Vizzlo One of the major advantages of visualizing data is the sheer amount of information that can be processed from an image, especially over large periods across a Time Series Graph. The tabular spreadsheet for this data set would be so enormous that barely any conclusions could be drawn — in fact, only the last few figures could be comprehended, leading to the false impression that the Tesla stock prices have remained relatively moderate and even trended downward slightly. A complete overview of the decade leads to a better informed conclusion: that Tesla stock has risen exponentially.

The Waterfall Chart, also known as the Bridge chart, is probably the most classic financial dataviz. Profit and loss, growth rates, revenues, expenses and overall balances are compared sequentially, showing the cumulative effect on the initial value. Of course, this makes a great reportage or presentation graphic — but really has the greatest impact when used as a live, exploratory tool. Watching the effects of different months, processes or departments’ achievements directly change the overall outcome before your eyes is a game-changer. Vizzlo now supports live datasync, so your Waterfall chart will update automatically with the figures on your dataset — just link the source and watch it go, no manual revision required.

But which is the best tool for financial data visualization?

The short answer is: the one you want to use.

To stay ahead of the game in an overstuffed industry, changes need to be made sooner rather than later; an intuitive tool you can jump right into will enable you to hit the ground running. But don’t make the mistake of looking for an easy-to-use software package and ending up with child’s play: Vizzlo is a tool with incredibly complex, data-driven, analytical potential presented intuitively and beautifully to the user, the investor and beyond.

The founders of Vizzlo were running other businesses when they decided to create the visualization software they wanted to use in those industries, and once they realised how much of a difference it made in their work processes they had to share it with other frustrated executives. We created our Enterprise, Teams and Personal packages to reflect this — to bring the easy, fast and beautiful experience to the collaborative finance company or the independent consultant in just the way that fits them: from just $11 per month.

Find out more at our website or claim your 14 day free trial now