Stories from the front line

Here you can read about some of the topics we love to write about, like financial modelling.

You can also hear from some the Excel warriors we’ve spoken to about their work at the gritty coal face of financial modelling.

Unleash the power of Excel with VBA macros

Unleash the power of Excel with VBA macros Here you can see the reviews a team from an international asset management company (based in the West End of London) gave the VBA macros course. Finance staff found themselves continuously having to rearrange source spreadsheets to fit internal reporting demands. We helped them unleash the power of VBA, equipping them with the tools to create and play back Excel routines at the click of a button. “Kept the course content interesting and engaging” “Most useful training I have received in a work environment” Here you can see all the feedback that the team gave our VBA macros course: 100% of participants said they would recommend the course to someone else. You can look at all the VBA course reviews online for yourself. Book the Excel VBA macros course Our VBA macros course is running again soon You can book the course for yourself – with VBA macros you’ll be able to automate repetitive Excel tasks and take your spreadsheet work to the next level Book the VBA course Read more stories Here you can read more of our stories straight from the gritty coal face of financial modelling Read more stories Unleash the power of Excel with VBA macros was last modified: December 21st, 2016 by FTA...

Our project finance course scores 95.5% from Deutsche bank

Here you can see all the feedback that the team from Deutsche Bank’s London office recently gave our project finance course: The feedback scores came in at a stunning 95.5% (we’re sure – we put a spreadsheet together). Read more stories Here you can read more of our stories from the gritty coal face of financial modelling Read more stories 100% of participants said they would recommend the course to someone else. You can look at all the project finance course reviews online for yourself. Project finance training for your company Our project finance course is available for delivery inside your company If you have 4-5 staff who are interested in project finance, in-company training will prove cost-effective for your firm Enquire about in-company training Our project finance course scores 95.5% from Deutsche bank was last modified: October 6th, 2016 by FTA...

Can you do a 12 year old’s Excel homework?

One of our trainers came into the office the other day with an Excel crossword. The crossword had been set for his 12 year old daughter for homework. He thought it was hard (although he’s still expecting that he’ll get 100% for his daughter’s homework). You can see how you get on with it. You can print this page or click on the spreadsheet to download it. The spreadsheet is clever enough to check your answers as you go. If you check out the clues and hints below the crossword will help you with a few of Excel’s handiest keyboard shortcuts, so there’s nothing trivial about the exercise. Plus those 12 year olds will grow up and might be after your job in a few years’ time, so you might want to make sure you can cut it with them! The teacher’s across clues 6. How a cell appears Our hint We struggled to get out of the starting blocks with this one, so we’ve got a hint for you. If you like keyboard shortcuts, when you’ve got Excel open, press “Ctrl” followed by “1” (at the same time) to see what this one is all about. 7. Formatting to look like money Our hint “Ctrl” “shift” “4” (all at the same time) is the keyboard shortcut for this one. Try applying that shortcut to a number in your Excel spreadsheet. Also you might want to try “Ctrl” “Shift” “5” to format as a % or “Ctrl” “Shift” “1” to apply general formatting. 8. These come after the ‘dot’ in numbers Our hint Two words required here! We’ve slotted...

Give yourself a free Excel tune up

We can give you an Excel modelling tune up in around ten minutes a day – for free. One email a day for a month We’ll send you one email a day for a month – each email should take only around ten minutes a day to work through. An extract from our financial modelling course training The material draws on our regular Excel financial modelling course training and is well proven with people regularly taking the program. Covering all the most important formulas for Excel financial modelling Excel has hundreds of formulas on offer. That can present a bit of a challenge: you need to become fluent in the formulas that are going to be most helpful in financial modelling. We think that, by sending you one email a day for a month, in just ten minutes a day we can check you’re on top of critical Excel financial modelling formulas. All for free. The program covers all the formulas attendees on our financial modelling course ask about and find the most useful of all. Sign up online for the Excel formulas course Here you can sign up online for the free Excel formulas course. Excel modelling formulas for free You can sign up here online for the free course covering the Excel formulas most useful for financial modelling Sign up online here Give yourself a free Excel tune up was last modified: October 5th, 2016 by FTA...

Sumproduct’s awesome superpower

We think Sumproduct is probably the super-hero of Excel formulas. We’re not sure Sumproduct really squeezes itself into tights and goes out fighting crime at night, but we think it definitely has some extreme powers that would see it coming out ahead of other Excel formulas in a fight. Vlookup vs. Sumproduct The Vlookup formula seems to be the most popular of ‘data picking’ solutions amongst delegates on our financial modelling course training. Often in Excel you want to ‘pick’ data out of a table of data with column headings across the top and row categories down the side. Most attendees on a training course would gravitate towards the Vlookup formula or perhaps the emminently able Index formula for this job. But Sumproduct can happily pick data out of a table and it definitely has some powers Vlookup and Index don’t have. We think that makes Sumproduct a winner. Sumproduct’s day job Sumproduct’s day job is to take sets of numbers, multiply each one (e.g. £ sales amounts) by the other (e.g. % commission) and add up the total (= £ total commission due). That’s OK but ever-so-slightly staid. Sumproduct has some hidden super powers that means it can do much more than other Excel formulas. You can click on the image above to download an example showing how to use Sumproduct for its regular job. It may help to click on cell F14 and press “Shift” “F3” on your keyboard to bring up the insert formula dialog box. How Sumproduct's like Batman We think Sumproduct is a bit like Bruce Wayne = Batman. During the day Bruce has...

Just what kind of modeller am I?

As part of an ongoing quest to discover exactly what a financial model really is, we grabbed a sample of modelling experts, quizzing them on their approach to their work in Excel. What we found was a wide variety of modelling styles, with each analysis oriented towards solving a particular commercial objective. If you’d like to think about where your own analysis fits and put your own Excel work in some kind of box, after talking to our modelling experts we developed two graphics (attached). The first graphic starts by separating the date crunchers from the financial modellers and allows you to find where you might fit. The second graphic tries to convince you that, no matter what financial modelling you’re doing at the moment, without realising it you may be on a journey working towards Excel enlightenment: integrated financial statement modelling. The data crunchers The Excel data crunchers probably aren’t really modeling at all. Perhaps they’re focussing on historic or forecast key performance indicators for a business. An example would be the funds analyst crunching thousands of lines in Excel around investment positions and returns. Perhaps the data-cruncher’s Excel spreadsheets are a patch for inadequate internal management systems and they’re facing particular issues with workbook size. They may want to set calculation to manual (in Excel 2010 and later file > options > formulas > calculation options > manual) and use the F9 keyboard shortcut to make the spreadsheet to calculate. They will want to avoid applying formulas across the whole spreadsheet forcing Excel to work through spreadsheet-wide calculations. For those people =Sum(A:A) is a bad formula. They...

Chris Sheasby, CFO at Ark Schools

Chris is chief financial officer at Ark Schools. Ark is a charity that runs 34 schools across the UK. Ark’s ambition is to transform young lives through education. Chris, and Ark, believe in the power of people. 34 schools translates to around £150m of income, more than 2,000 staff, a great number of ambitious students and huge data flows. Moreover, Ark has big plans to expand. Ark is backed by some well-known giants of the hedge fund industry, intent on using their position to make a difference. We talked to Chris about how numbers flow through Ark and Excel’s role in that. The role of Excel at Ark With high data volumes Chris told us that Ark has recently implemented a proprietary management information system. Add in a finance specialist focussed on running numbers for each of the 34 schools and that system helps ensure consistency. Still there’s a big role for Excel. For looking at ‘what if’ scenarios across Ark’s schools Chris will ask his team to use Excel. And, inevitably, there are still a few finance managers at the schools who maintain a lingering love affair with their old Excel spreadsheets Modelling style: integrated financial statements with full balance sheet In the ‘old days’ local authorities would have taken care of balance sheet issues for schools, leaving individual schools worrying about their operations In contrast, Ark’s forecast models include a full balance sheet, starting from the individual school and consolidating up. According to Chris, modelling the balance sheet at the operating unit level is essential: “It’s your check. It provides the link to cash flow.” Plus individual...

Phillip Jarman, venture capital fund manager

Sitting down and talking to Phillip Jaraman of Anglo African Enterprises quickly leaves you with the impression that his life moves at a pace that’s different than the rest of ours. Armed with a fresh MBA and a background with investment bank UBS, Phillip has teamed with pan-Africa data services company “Anglo African” to establish an in-house venture capital firm. In three months he has: Surrounded himself with a stellar board; Crunched through his market research and established a pipeline of potential investments; Teamed with Barclays to establish the first in a chain of African start-up incubators; Cut a deal with his first start-up business and made sure he is on track to cut his second. As well as being in an enormous hurry, Phillip strikes you as someone who, quietly and confidently, is absolutely determined to get somewhere. That explains why Anglo African have backed him into his own private equity fund and why he’s managed to surround himself with such a strong team. We talked to Phillip about the models he is seeing from potential investees as well as his own work in Excel. Modelling style: a data cruncher one minute, a cash flow modeller the next It turns out that some days Phillip is a data cruncher (A). Some days he is a cash flow modeller (C). Phillip has been using Excel to crunch through market data and establish a pipeline of deal opportunities for his private equity business. By our reckoning that makes him a ‘data cruncher’ some of the time. But he’s also developed a cash flow model for the private equity business. We...

Hannah Robertson, strategy analyst

Hannah and Renewable Energy Systems (RES) are intent on making the world a better place with clean renewable energy. Internationally RES has developed a renewable electricity generation portfolio with capacity of around 10GW – equivalent to approximately 15% of the UK’s total. But don’t talk to Hannah about wind mills. They’re not windmills. Windmills are something you grind flour in. You can talk to her about wind turbines or wind farms. That’s OK. Joining RES after an engineering degree from Oxford, RES obviously regard Hannah as one of their bright young things, regularly transporting her between her home in the UK and RES’s Coloarado office. Hannah works in RES’s strategy team looking at how new technologies could be applied in new markets – so it seems they’ve given her the challenge of taking over America. As you would expect, RES are taking Hannah’s initiatives very seriously, with her team reporting its findings direct to RES’s main board. Modelling style: data cruncher and cash flow modeller Hannah is another modeller who sometimes is a data cruncher and sometimes is a cash flow modeller. Hannah spends part of her time evaluating new technologies and new markets, looking at data for electricity prices and technology costs. In those periods she’s a data cruncher. At other times Hannah is a cash flow modeller, for example when she’s evaluating whether a new technology can be applied into a new market. Read the full article: what kind of modeller am I? You’re reading part of an article regarding Excel modelling styles. You can read the full text of the article here: What kind of modeller...

Has Excel’s time come?

Hands up if you remember fax machines? Do you remember going to conferences and having to check to see whether your name was pinned up on the message board? What about the day when your company first issued you with a (probably Nokia) mobile phone that was actually a phone, and would happily live on its battery for two weeks? Do you remember when you didn’t feel obliged to (in fact you couldn’t) check your emails on holiday? Even when emails started following us around the head of your organisation’s IT department must have had a simple life. All they needed to do was make sure each staff member had a whizzy mobile phone and a licence for everyday Microsoft office products. But now we’re living in a world of sophisticated smart phones and tablets, where companies have started to allow staff to bring their own choice of device to work. Everyone wants to be able to bat emails around but not everyone needs to do serious number crunching. If you’re a modern worker running around everywhere with a tablet or smart phone in your pocket do you really need Excel at all? Alternatives to Excel As well as Excel we’ve now got products that justify their existence by doing a great job at specialist tasks such as statistical analysis or storing and manipulating internal management data. Then we’ve got free direct alternatives to Excel such as Google’s sheets or Apache’s Open Office “Calc” spreadsheeting package. We’ve also got free spreadsheeting software “apps” you can download for your tablet or phone. None have the depth of functionality or are...
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