The symbiosis between artist and accountant at tax time

Artists can help accountants learn how to tell stories – and then storytelling can help us understand our taxes.
The symbiosis between artist and accountant at tax time

Image: shutterstock.


Anyone who has sat uncomfortably in an accountant’s office, struggling to understand the complicated financial arrangements being explained to them, would probably agree that accounting and taxation need a new communications strategy. As we’re all in the business of communicating creative ideas, perhaps that’s something the financial industry can learn from artists? 

Matthew Tucker is owner of Creative Crunchers, an accounting and taxation firm that works exclusively with clients from the creative industries. Tucker is passionate about helping arts practitioners with their tax and finances, and after working with creatives and arts workers across different disciplines, has benefited firsthand from what he calls a ‘symbiotic’ relationship between artist and accountant.

Many of Creative Crunchers’ clients are natural born storytellers. ‘They use language and imagery and story to communicate all of their ideas, so we find the best thing is to also try to tell stories about the actual financial issues they face,’ Tucker explained. 

‘For example, you hear a story about a client that encountered this particular issue and they got themselves into a bind because they did XYZ, but had they done ABC then they would have been able to avoid all of this. You can find a way of explaining very dry and cut concepts in more interesting ways to get the message across.’ 

It follows that if creatives can help accountants learn how to tell stories – to communicate better – then ultimately, it’s that same storytelling that will help us understand our tax and finances. 

‘It’s a kind of symbiotic relationship because what they need help with is understanding all of the numbers, which is what we do. Each party in the transaction gets something out of the other that doesn’t naturally occur within yourself,’ Tucker said. 

‘Coming from our position as an accountant, it is nice to work with people who are motivated by the creative process,’ he added.

The team at Creative Crunchers. Image supplied.

It’s a method that has been tried and tested over almost 20 years at Creative Crunchers as Tucker has applied storytelling as a way of cutting through the jargon to help creatives demystify taxation and accounting. 

‘It’s not just about knowing the particular rules, it’s about engaging with the client and communicating with them in a way that a lot of accountants just don’t get,’ he explained.

‘If we were only dealing with one or two artists each year, that’s not enough to change the way that we would actually communicate with clients. But when it’s your entire client base, like with us, you rethink how you communicate with those clients in a specific way.’ 

Feedback from new clients has confirmed that the strategy is working. ‘People often say “I think my old accountant tried to explain that concept to me but I had no idea what they were talking about, now it makes sense.”

‘We are very big on finding those ways of communicating concepts back to clients because the more we can empower them to understand the money side of their business – whether that’s budgeting or book keeping practices – the more that knowledge builds their confidence. Over long periods of time that relationship deepens, and eventually you spend less time explaining and more time on the important things, like planning their budget.’ 

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Brooke Boland

Thursday 27 June, 2019

About the author

Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW.