7 Most-know Modeling Guides Before You Build a Financial Model.

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Introduction: Modeling Guide

Financial modeling is the process of building a spreadsheet to forecast a business’s future financial performance. This forecast is built based on the company’s historical performance and its assumptions and outlook for the future. It’s a combination of business, accounting, and finance metrics.

Its outputs are usually used for wide-range performance analysis and decision-making. They are used to make decisions on financial matters relating to capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, budgeting, capital rationing, forecasting, and strategic planning.

Building a financial model is a complex task that demands precision, foresight, and a deep understanding of the business in question. Here are seven must-know modeling guidelines to enable you to build a model of a financial mode with ease. https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/resources/financial-modeling


1] Understand the purpose and use of financial modeling.

Financial modeling is a representation in numbers of a company’s operations in the past, present, and the forecasted future. Such models are intended to be used as decision-making tools. Company executives might use them to estimate the costs and in turn project the profits of a proposed new project.

2] Understanding the business and its key drivers.

Developing a strong understanding of the business and its key drivers is crucial for building a reliable and meaningful financial model. These key drivers are the levers that directly impact the financial performance of a company.  Accurately reflecting their relationships, is essential for generating accurate forecasts and predictions.

By understanding the business and its key drivers effectively, you can build a financial model that serves as a powerful tool for informing decision-making, assessing risks, and forecasting future performance.

3] Understanding the input and output of your models.

The success of any financial model depends on the quality and relevance of its inputs, the clarity and the usefulness of its outputs. By following these principles, you can ensure your models provide valuable insights for informed decision-making.

4] Choose the right software for your needs.

Selecting the right financial modeling software can significantly impact your efficiency and the effectiveness of your analysis. It’s crucial to choose software that aligns with your needs, skills, and budget.  Skills such as what type of models you will be building. (e.g., valuation, budgeting, forecasting) and features such as Data integration capabilities (Excel, databases, APIs).


5] Set up your basic model framework and keep it simple.

The model structure should be kept as simple as possible. Complex modeling doesn’t equate to a powerful and good model. A good model should be well organized and simple so that anyone reviewing or using the model can easily understand it without much difficulty. The framework for your model should be organized into different sections, such as the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement, and should be connected.

Supporting calculations should also be included, such as depreciation and loan amortization schedules, for easy understanding. This ensures clarity, simplifies troubleshooting, and makes it more user-friendly. The formula used should be transparent, and dependencies should be easily traceable.

 6] Always input your assumptions and avoid hardcoding.

A good financial model should be flexible in order to easily incorporate changes such as changes in exchange rates and market conditions. One way to ensure a flexible model is to always input your assumptions separately and avoid hardcoding figures inside your formulas. On a separate sheet or in a different section of your model, have your assumptions clearly stated out.

This assumption will now form the basis for the formula to be inputted into the model. This ensures that if there is ever any change in the model assumptions, such changes are immediately incorporated into the model. If the formulas in the cell contain a hardcoded figure, you may have to start editing the cells one by one, thereby consuming more time.

 7] Test and refine your models.

The financial model is expected to be responsive to different scenarios or any change. While building your model, ensure to implement formulas and controls to identify and prevent errors in data entry and calculations. Such includes, Data validation, if errors.

After completing your model, conduct compressive testing. Reconcile totals, verify that assets equal liabilities plus equity, and cross-reference key figures in order to spot errors within your model. This ensures the reliability and accuracy of your model.



A financial model is only as good as its inputs and assumptions. By following these guides and investing time in careful preparation, you can build models that provide valuable insights for informed decision-making.

Click on this link to get more insights on financial modeling. https://school.bfiinsights.com/financial-modeling-school/




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