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Using Excel for Business Analysis: A Guide to Financial Modelling Fundamentals, Edition Revised for Excel 2013


Praise for Using Excel for Business Analysis

Revised Edition

"Danielle brilliantly manages the balance between business relevance and the necessary technical explanations expected from a book such as this. Her ability to walk in the shoes of the reader and deliver concise practical wisdom is unsurpassed. I highly recommend this book to anyone working with numbers, be it a Chief Financial Officer talking to the board or a Business Analyst starting their career. With Danielle's advice you can transform your career from successful to exceptional."
—Garth Holloway, Managing Director, SixFootFour Consulting

"Danielle's expertise and experience shines through in a very readable book, introducing the key concepts and considerations inherent in financial modelling. From novice to advanced modeller alike, readers are presented with many useful tips, tools, techniques, and pragmatic examples to refer to time and time again. Readily digestible, this book plugs a gaping academic hole that illustrates the risks and rewards of taking a spreadsheet by the throat and converting it into a robust, transparent, and flexible decision-making device. It will help you to 'Excel'."
—Liam Bastick, Managing Director, SumProduct, and Excel MVP

"Excel is a powerful and underestimated tool in many business environments. Whilst there are a number of books on the market that help explain the countless functions and features of the product, there are few if any that clearly articulate and teach the analyst how to unlock the power of Excel as an analysis and modelling tool for critical business decisions. Filled with easy to follow examples and based on many years of practical experience and education, Danielle Stein Fairhurst's book Using Excel for Business Analysis: A Guide to Financial Modelling Fundamentals has finally bridged that gap with a step-by-step approach to building models that address important real-world business questions."
—Michael Morgan, General Manager, Business & Productivity Solutions, Empired Limited

DANIELLE STEIN FAIRHURST is the Principal of Plum Solutions, a Sydney-based consultancy specialising in financial modelling and analysis. Her extensive experience as a financial analyst enables her to help her clients create meaningful financial models. She is regularly engaged as a speaker, course facilitator, financial modelling consultant, and analyst.

Using Excel for Business Analysis: A Guide to Financial Modelling Fundamentals, Edition Revised for Excel 2013 provides additional resources, explanations, information pertinent to users of older Excel versions, and more on the companion website at

Preface ix

CHAPTER 1 What Is Financial Modelling? 1

What’s the Difference between a

Spreadsheet and a Financial Model? 4

Types and Purposes of Financial Models 5

Tool Selection 6

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Good Financial Modeller? 17

The Ideal Financial Modeller 24

Summary 28

CHAPTER 2 Building a Model 31

Model Design 31

The Golden Rules for Model Design 33

Design Issues 35

The Workbook Anatomy of a Model 36

Project Planning Your Model 38

Model Layout Flow Charting 41

Steps to Building a Model 41

Information Requests 50

Version-Control Documentation 51

Summary 53

CHAPTER 3 Best Practice Principles of Modelling 55

Document Your Assumptions 55

Linking, Not Hard Coding 56

Enter Data Only Once 57

Avoid Bad Habits 57

Use Consistent Formulas 57

Format and Label Clearly 58

Methods and Tools of Assumptions Documentation 59

Linked Dynamic Text Assumptions Documentation 67

What Makes a Good Model? 70

Summary 72

CHAPTER 4 Financial Modelling Techniques 73

The Problem with Excel 73

Error Avoidance Strategies 75

How Long Should a Formula Be? 81

Linking to External Files 83

Building Error Checks 86

Summary 96

CHAPTER 5 Using Excel in Financial Modelling 97

Formulas and Functions in Excel 97

Excel Versions 101

Handy Excel Shortcuts 103

Basic Excel Functions 109

Logical Functions 112

Nesting: Combining Simple Functions to

Create Complex Formulas 115

Cell Referencing Best Practices 119

Named Ranges 122

Summary 126

CHAPTER 6 Functions for Financial Modelling 127

Aggregation Functions 127

LOOKUP Formulas 140

Nesting INDEX and MATCH 153

OFFSET Function 157

Regression Analysis 161

CHOOSE Function 164

Working with Dates 166

Financial Project Evaluation Functions 174

Loan Calculations 180

Summary 186

CHAPTER 7 Tools for Model Display 187

Basic Formatting 187

Custom Formatting 187

Conditional Formatting 193

Sparklines 200

Bulletproofing Your Model 204

Customising the Display Settings 208

Form Controls 216

Summary 232

CHAPTER 8 Tools for Financial Modelling 233

Hiding Sections of a Model 233

Grouping 238

Array Formulas 240

Goal Seeking 247

Structured Reference Tables 249

PivotTables 251

Macros 262

Summary 272

CHAPTER 9 Common Uses of Tools in Financial Modelling 273

Escalation Methods for Modelling 273

Understanding Nominal and Effective (Real) Rates 278

Calculating Cumulative Totals 283

How to Calculate a Payback Period 284

Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) 288

Building a Tiering Table 293

Modelling Depreciation Methods 296

Break-Even Analysis 307

Summary 313

CHAPTER 10 Model Review 315

Rebuilding an Inherited Model 315

Improving Model Performance 323

Auditing a Financial Model 328

Summary 335

Appendix 10.1: QA Log 336

CHAPTER 11 Stress-Testing, Scenarios, and Sensitivity Analysis in Financial Modelling 337

What Are the Differences between Scenario, Sensitivity, and What-If Analyses? 338

Overview of Scenario Analysis Tools and Methods 340

Advanced Conditional Formatting 349

Comparing Scenario Methods 353

Summary 365

CHAPTER 12 Presenting Model Output 367

Preparing an Oral Presentation for Model Results 367

Preparing a Graphic or Written Presentation for Model Results 369

Chart Types 372

Working with Charts 380

Handy Charting Hints 386

Dynamic Named Ranges 388

Charting with Two Different Axes and Chart Types 394

Bubble Charts 400

Creating a Dynamic Chart 402

Waterfall Charts 407

Summary 420

About the Author 421

About the Website 423

Index 425