Introduction to Financial Modeling using Excel [Part 1 of 6]
This is a guest post written by Paramdeep from Pristine. Chandoo.org is partnering with Pristine to bring an excel financial modeling online training program for you.
This is Part 1 of 6 on Financial Modeling using Excel
In this and next 5 posts, we are going to learn how to build a financial model to do project evaluation using Excel. The 6 parts of this tutorial are,
 Introduction to Financial Modeling
 Building a layout for Project Evaluation Model – Best practices
 Building Inputs and Assumptions Sheet
 Building Projections for Project Evaluation
 Modeling the Cash Flow Statement and Projections
 Putting it all together – Final Project Evaluation Model
 Join our Financial Modeling Classes
What is financial modeling?
Financial modeling is creating a complete program/ structure, which helps you in coming to a decision regarding investment in a project/ company. Now this could be on a simple piece of paper or in excel. The advantage with excel is that, even if you have calculation speed and accuracy like me (this is one place where I am like Einstien!), then also you would be able to come to the right conclusion!
Who does Financial Modeling?
Anybody dealing with any decision related to money (wish there was somebody who did not require that!). If you are involved in financial decision making/ planning related to large corporate, then you would definitely need financial modelling day in and day out. Financial modeling is a mandatory activity for investment bankers, bankers, project finance persons, equity research folks, PE & VCs.
What are the steps in building a financial model?
 Data collection – This is where the real front end banker works. She goes to the client, collects the data like revenue, growth, investments, need for money, etc.
 Back of the envelope calculations – Now most of the corporate guys are very hunky dory about their business. They usually think that their idea is one of a kind and is going to generate loads of mullah. Banker would sanitize their thoughts and try to figure out, if the business makes sense. Initially the thinking and analysis is very simple,
 Does the corporate guy look sober to me?
 How soon can I get my investment back?
 Is the revenue that he is projecting seem greater than the market size? 😉
You usually need no industry knowledge for this. Just keep your eyes and ears open and put your thinking cap on!
 Structured approach to thinking – Once the basic numbers seem reasonable (they make business sense and seem to be true as well), you have to dig deeper! This is where you need a complete financial model. And the first real step to doing that is to think of a structure of analysis. Thankfully finance has some basic theories in place and you can rely on them to proceed:
 Cash is the king – The more cash is generated (from the operations of the business) the better is the business
 Money today is better than money tomorrow – technically this can be called Time value of money. But it does not matter!
Practically these are the fundamental building blocks of analysis and you have to start thinking in these terms for the analysis
 Deciding on a Layout – Now when you start to put this plan in excel, the starting point is deciding on a layout for your financial model. Usually the following questions need to be answered:
 How much information/ data would your model have? If its going to be large, then it might make sense to break the model in multiple sheets
 What kind of assumptions would your model make? For better readability, we would try to keep assumptions in a different heading than the calculations and the final conclusion
 Different fonts/ formatting for assumptions and other parts might enhance readability as well
 Create logical modules for your model
 Keep your P&L, Balance Sheet, cash flow statement, etc. separate
 Even in P&L, keep the revenue generation separate from costs
One Advice for Aspiring Financial Modelers
Speed is the Key: Finally when you are dealing with tons of information, you can easily get bored. If you remember a bunch of keyboard shortcuts, then it would be very beneficial! Here are some resources to get you started:
 Comprehensive list of Excel Keyboard Shortcuts: Lists 97 shortcuts organized by functionality and usefulness.
 Favorite Shortcuts as voted by readers: Keyboard shortcuts shared by our readers.
 Using Mouse Effectively – Part 1 & Part 2: If you are going to use mouse, you better be productive at it.
An Example Financial Modeling Case
Now to make your life easy, we have done the first two parts for you! 🙂 There is a case (In the attached PDF file) that lists a situation and some of the data you might need to organize your thoughts. The decision is simple, would you advice Mr. Samar to invest in design Y?
Download the case pdf from here [pdf].
Once you have read the case and analyzed the numbers try creating a model for evaluation. Remember to make the layout of your model in such a way that navigation becomes easier.
What Next?
In the next installment of this tutorial, learn how to create a layout / template for our project evaluation model. We also discuss about some of the best practices to follow when building models in excel.
Join our Financial Modeling Classes
We are glad to inform that our new financial modeling & project finance modeling online class is ready for your consideration.
Please click here to learn more about the program & signup.
Share your Experience:
Do you build financial models? What is your experience like? What process do you follow and how do you plan the model? Do share your ideas and methods thru comments.
Added by Chandoo:
Thank you Paramdeep & Pristine:
Many thanks to Paramdeep and Pristine for making this happen. I am really enjoying this series and learning a lot of valuable tricks about financial modeling.
If you like this series, say thanks to Paramdeep. I am sure he can take any amount of appreciation without choking.
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Pristine is an awesome training institute for CFA, PRIMA, GARP etc. They have trained folks at HSBC, BoA etc. Chandoo.org is partnering with Pristine to bring an excel financial modeling online training program for you.
Hello Awesome...
My name is Chandoo. Thanks for dropping by. My mission is to make you awesome in Excel & your work. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. When I am not F9ing my formulas, I cycle, cook or play lego with my kids. Know more about me.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Visit Excel for Beginner or Advanced Excel pages to learn more or join my online video class to master Excel.
Thank you and see you around.

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52 Responses to “Introduction to Financial Modeling using Excel [Part 1 of 6]”
Oooh! Chandoo  are you looking to outperform the Altman ZScore?
I'm all ears 😉
Many thanks, Paramdeep. Looking forward to the remaining parts of the series
Thank you Paramdeep. I look forward to following the series.
Those interested in Financial Modelling may also find this site interesting:
http://www.fimodo.com/
Hi Chandoo,
Really looking forward for this awesome financial modeling journey 🙂
All the very best..
Regards
Rohit1409
Hi Chandoo,
it seems the future is not away when we will have a new software/spreadsheet as competitor to Microsoft Office/Linux etc.......Hats Off to you..
KEEP SMILING
GURU
@apex, clarity: Thanks...
@all: I do hope that you have started creating the model for the simple case given.. Lets see, what according to you all is the best way forward. So your views on the best practices for the template for valuation?
The planning process varies depending on the project and type of data I am looking at.
If I am doing a cost impact study based on actuals, verses a cost impact study to estimate future cost, verses reviewing historical data then creating a model, verse having to review historical data, apply it to a draft model, update the model based on the draft outputs and the presentation then sometimes repeat the process a few times.
Revisions are an absolutely necessary part of corporate financial modeling especially for the presentation sections. A good presentation will be revised multiple time. There are just to many elements which cannot be planned for, especially with ad hoc reports/models.
Revisions are leading cause of errors, and time spent tracking down errors. The more complex the model the more important revision control is. I would be interested in a section on revision control and good methodologies to determine the effect of changes on models. That is without having to due detail review of the whole model over again.
Hi Paramdeep,
I can't wait for the continuation of this series. You have done a great job in making technical terms appear simple and easy to understand. This article is also very useful in our line of business, in fact i will be featuring this article in our site. Of course the credits will go out to you.
Many thanks and keep it up!
Drew
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@Drew: Thanks! Hope that you found the tutorials useful. Feel free to get back with any queries.
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Great information, i also want to learn financial modeling, how to learn
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chando bhai i m tired for looking financial modeling detail but i cant find it anyway. so plz kindly send me full detail of financial modeling from beginning levelo to final. where i learn complete modeling procedure n order to become professional
You noob, you won`t become a professional like that, you need to do it on your own and learn as you go
@Nadeem Bhai,
The 6 links to the tutorial at the top of this post, build a small integrated financial model step by step. We are also running a complete 8 weeks course on financial modeling (similar to excel school). But that is almost 50% complete right now. If you want to join, you can join the next batch (probably starting in Jan/ Feb)
Feel free to get back, if you have any queries regarding the model/ steps in creating the same
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I want to learn how to build a financial model
Dear Lulama,
You can use this tutorial to learn to build a financial model. We also run a course on financial modeling and project finance modeling. The details can be obtained from:
http://chandoo.org/wp/financialmodeling/
You can consider joining that as well.
I would strongly encourage you to join the newsletter to get the updates about financial modeling and the next batch starting for the course.
I want to learn thorough excel and financial modelling thing !!! I am a chartered accountant..CAn you please suggest a detail syllabus that should be learn by me. Also suggest any classes that would cover everything in excel and financial modelling related things.. I stay in mumbai, so please suggest a class in mumbai or any books..byyee.. thanks ..
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Hi Vivek,
We do conduct the financial modeling course online as well as in Mumbai. We start with the basics of excel and build a completely integrated financial model in the class. For details you can look at:
http://chandoo.org/wp/financialmodeling/
or
http://www.edupristine.com/courses/financialmodeling/prisitnefmoffering
Please describe to me various type of financial modela and demonstrate how a model can be build.
Regards,
Dear Immanuel,
This series of articles does exactly that. If you go step by step through the articles and create the excel sheets on your own, you will understand how to create an integrated financial model.
Alternatively, if you are looking for video sessions, you can consider joining our course:
http://chandoo.org/wp/financialmodeling/
It is expected to reopen somewhere in mid july.
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Thanks Paramdeep this is great!
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Paramdeep Hi! A bit ignorant here, but let's ask anyway. Can I access "recorded" video sessions apart from following the step by step articles?
Thanks!
@Marius: Yes, we do have a training program with recorded video sessions. If you are interested, you can enroll for the same. The details can be obtained from: http://chandoo.org/wp/financialmodeling/
i want to know about the scope of financial modeling.i also want to know after doing financial modeling course what are the job prospect, like where i can found job so plz send me full detail of financial modeling from beginning levelo to final.
I am interested to join your Financial modelling class cos am involved in a new business. But I have a Macbook Air with Excel for Mac installed. Would that work with your program?
Dear Charsiew,
The complete training program is built using Excel 2007 with MS windows. Though there is nothing specific to Microsoft in the training. I think a few people have joined the program and are using MAC. If you write an email to me on paramdeep @ gmail.com, I can send you the email ids of those participants and you can get to know their feedback and difficulties in using the program.
This is great, when does the next batch start?
Dear Karan,
The course is in recorded format and you can register for the same as soon as you want.
Paramdeep, thanks. I'm venturing into financial modelling for the first time and from the little I've read from your website already, I'm sure I'll find your resources very useful; thanks once again.
Dear Seun,
I am glad that you are finding the resources to be useful. Feel free to send in comments with your feedback and further questions.
hie ppl...I jst wantd a small favour cn smone help me out in calculating EBITDA, along with its working, from wipros annual report 20112012, link  http://www.wipro.com/investors/annualreports.aspx
...PLZ plz... i am having a submission tommorow.
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Nice article.
In designing Excel Financial Models I design the user interface as friendly as possible and structuring the input variables in the workflow of the client's operations so that they can flow through the impact of the input variables in Excel using buttons and macros and giving the model transparency.
Cheers
Arthur
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Another step to build any financial model is to do a financial analysis beforehand. This normally helps to design and come up with good projections.
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