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How to Become a Professional Financial Modeler in 2024

In any field, for a novice to evolve into an expert, it is necessary to know what will be relevant to your career. As described in financial modeling, this challenge amplifies because of the extent of all that falls under “finance.” As any domain evolves, qualified practitioners become increasingly specialized. It takes years of practice to build a useful financial model. You learn by doing as you climb up the professional ladder. The article discusses the career prospects, skills required, job scope, and roles and responsibilities of a Professional Financial Modeler.

how to become a professional financial modeler

What Is a Financial Model?

A financial model is a spreadsheet tool to predict a business’ economic performance in the future.   The forecast relies on the firm’s historical performance and beliefs about the future.  It demands preparing an income statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, and supporting schedules (a 3 statement model).  From there, more cutting-edge types of models are built, such as leveraged-buyout (LBO), mergers and acquisitions (M&A), discounted cash flow analysis (DCF model),  and sensitivity analysis.

A financial model summarizes a company’s execution according to certain variables that help the company forecast future economic performance. In other words, it allows a company to see the potential financial results of a decision quantitatively. The measurements and skills employed to construct the model comprise accounting, corporate finance, understanding of the company’s operations, and Excel spreadsheets.

These models amalgamate those skills, group them based on performance, and then examine how a business will react to various economic crises or events. We commonly use financial models to calculate the result of a specific financial decision before the company engages any funds or efforts toward it. 

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Why Are Financial Models Important?

Financial Modelling is the primary core element of accepting the significant business decisions in a corporate world. The Financial models are the most valuable means for conducting business choices to obtain perfect solutions. A model can inform you regarding the risk associated with executing certain decisions. We can also utilize them to create an effective financial statement that mirrors the finances and functions of the company. These models enable online internet businesses to make prompt decisions more confidently.

Who is a Professional Financial Modeller?

A job in financial modeling involves building an abstract representation of a financial position. A Professional Financial Modeler designs a Financial model to describe the performance of an investment like a financial asset which helps a business find new market opportunities and forecast and quantify risk.

What Does a Professional Financial Modeler Do?

There are some typical duties for a Professional Financial Modeller. The main tasks that a Professional financial modeler will carry out include:

  • Building Financial models utilizing historical data
  • Performing scenario analysis by considering the macro and micro factors that will assist in assessing risk
  • Recognizing significant financial and non-financial risks and suggesting actions
  • Carrying out financial analysis by evaluating information and transactions like financial statements and cash flow statements
  • Updating complicated financial models all along earning seasons
  • Operating with advanced Excel & balance sheets
  • Work with different members of FMG to execute production-quality models
  • Check all model-related reports and deliver commentary, including forecast error considerations
  • Make a monthly write-up about model performance, relative value, and prepayment trends
  • Manage research analysts on exact projects
  • Maintain and improve the FSB’s long term planning model to create monthly financial projections and a package for Financial performance for the FSB
  • Conduct ongoing development and improvement of the FSB strategic operating model with a priority on product level income statements and enterprise alignment endeavors
  • Work as a primary business partner to CFO, accountable for multiple teams
  • Lead planning, budgeting, and financial management activities for customers
  • Spearhead the measure to reduce results variability, exploring root causes and conducting forecasting improvements
  • Study research data and synthesize basic information into insights and suggestions etc

How Does a Professional Financial Modeler Build a Financial Model?

The following are some of the basic steps an expert financial modeler follows to build a Financial model.

  • Historical data – observe at least three years of historical economic information for the business.
  • Ratios and metrics – estimate the historical ratios or metrics for the company, such as growth rates, asset turnover ratio, margins, inventory changes, etc.
  • Assumptions – continue creating the ratios and metrics for the future by making inferences about what growth rates, asset turnover, future margins, and inventory changes will be going ahead.
  • Forecast – predict the income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet into the future by overturning all the calculations you utilized to calculate historical ratios and metrics.   In other terms, use the assumptions that you created to fill in the financial statements.
  • Valuation – after the professional financial modeler creates a forecast, the valuation of the business happens by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analysis method.

What Are the Financial Modelling Skills required to Becoming a Professional Financial Modeler?

  • Excel proficiency 

This skill is concentrated on you being able to use Excel like a professional.  You would be both fruitful and efficient in how you use Excel.  It is not precisely like understanding Excel inside-out.  Instead, it’s more to do with being incredibly selective about what tools you should utilize and why.

Excel proficiency implies setting up the Excel environment to work for you.  For example, you could be conscious in deciding on a calculation mode and choose the movement of the cell highlight box when you press Enter or edit in the formula bar rather than inside the cell itself. 

Taking care of the Excel setting is about a strong start. If you are conscious of where you edit Formulas, you are also likely to be aware of other, more complicated tasks. 

It is easy to get enthusiastic about all the options in Excel. A proficient Excel user will understand what these possibilities are and which are the most useful, and why. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of, for example, a particular function is an essential skill to have. Of over four hundred and fifty Functions in Excel, we require only 10 – 15 for financial modeling. The work-horse Functions are simple, evident, and easy to comprehend.

While a professional financial modeler requires a working knowledge of VBA and macros, a good modeler will make conscious choices to make the best use of it. They will often limit its use to automating uncomplicated routines created to avoid repetitious manual tasks, judging that transparency and simplicity are preferable to macro patterns using everything VBA offers.

  • Conceptual modeling 

Possibly the most poorly comprehended skill, Conceptual Modelling, has nothing to do with spreadsheets or Excel. Conceptual modeling describes what to model rather than how you offer to model it. 

A conceptual model of a production line, for instance, will demonstrate how the parts – the inputs, estimations, and outputs – assemble so that someone different than you may build a spreadsheet solution.

We may communicate a conceptual model through: 

  • A conversation (the conceptual modeler apprising the spreadsheet engineer) 
  • The written briefing (email, for instance) 
  • Wiring diagram (needing pen and paper – or a computer-based counterpart)
  • Computer software 

Good conceptual modelers will employ their expertise acquired from other disciplines to their benefit. For instance, prior experience in treasury, banking, accounting, architecture, or even philosophy will help determine a logical flow. Sector expertise helps choose where to use conceptual models.

  • Model design 

An efficient model designer can put together a clear picture of the whole financial model before starting work in Excel. They realize that critical design judgments exist at all levels: 

  • Who is the consumer of the model?
  • What anticipations do the end-users have about employing the model? 
  • Is Excel the right software platform for the model? 
  • What best methods, financial modeling criteria, and user conventions do you intend to follow? 
  • How many workbooks? 
  • How many worksheets?
  • What are the roles of the worksheets? 
  • What is the order of the worksheets? 
  • Where will the inputs remain? And the expression of outputs? 
  • What about worksheets committed to quality control? 
  • In a worksheet, what are the section headings needed? 
  • How are estimates to be presented? 
  • How are individual line items to be given? 
  • How should the contents of particular cells be provided – including formatting and font colors? 

The financial model design has duplicated effort or the risk of reinventing the wheel, causing financial modeling standards to be so important. A model designer who can pull 80 percent of their design decisions by simply adopting a standard and adhering to it will design better models. The only risk remaining is determining the appropriate benchmark to start.

Template models are also a good starting point when producing design decisions.

  • Model construction 

All financial modeling courses worthy of their name will introduce a method based on repetitive actions. So an individual modeling revenue will notice a similar approach when the program proceeds to model operating costs. 

And, of course, students will be able to recognize the patterns. That’s a significant part of learning. Lessons to know include:

  • What creates a good label/line item descriptor? 
  • The significance of units (that should be comprised, different from the label, for every individual line item)
  • The function of row totals for line items that flow in or out of the company
  • Consistency of formulas
  • Anchoring cell references 
  • How to create calculations that are comfortable to the eye 
  • How to refer to current estimations that we require for subsequent calculations 
  • At the most fundamental level, you should be capable of touch-typing if you are to learn financial modeling skills. Pursue that by minimizing your mouse usage and depending on keyboard shortcuts. If you arrive at these first two critical points, you will be in an excellent place to take a host of novel skills on board.

Also read: Guide to Financial Modeling Course

  • Model review 

This skill is about continuing someone else’s model and getting to grips with it (regardless of how they built it). It’s a blend of the different competencies.

This skill requires you to be like being a supervisor. Most supervisors will have accomplished the groundwork, but exemplary supervisor deploys their learning differently. They ought to be able to use critical judgment in the work of others. 

Professional Courses from IIM SKILLS

Here are three methods to form model review skills: 

  • Learn to create models. If you can create models and have a strong opinion about them, you can easily apply that opinion to other individuals’ models. Plus, many navigation skills or keyboard shortcuts that you master to build financial models are necessary for review. And a confirmed method for embarking on a formal review of a Financial model is to create a shadow model and compare the outcomes.
  • Generate a professional skepticism similar to that of an auditor. Consider that mistakes are there, and you need to find them; assume that you ought to make improvements. This approach helps create a view of the modeler. For instance, a reviewer will reach conclusions about a modeler and a model if its structure is not immediately evident and minimal thought has gone to the model user’s experience. They will question why the modeler has followed this method when better ways exist?
  • Embrace a review framework. Use checklists and review software. A formal approach combined with professional skepticism is a sound foundation for a good model reviewer. The most practical frameworks are risk-based, concentrate on commercial outputs as much as technical estimations, and examine the highest-impact outcomes for the slightest effort spent.
  • Presentation of results

If model review skills comprise other skills, being efficient at presenting results depends on its own. It addresses different competencies from others and focuses not on clarity of workings/calculations but on driving the numbers to tell a story.

A financial modeler with efficient presentation skills will:

  • Know their audience. In financial modeling, this suggests presenting what the audience wishes to see. A good presenter will rebuild the models where the presentation of results remains the same with a new calculation engine sitting beneath.
  • Have a keen eye for color, white space, design, and methods to maximize visual impact. 
  • Make benefit of working knowledge of Excel operations for building an effective user interface, utilizing them with care and with the end-user requirements in mind.

Why Do Professional Financial Modelers Use Excel?

Predicting a company’s operations in the future can be very complicated. Each company is unique and needs a specific set of assumptions and estimates. Financial Modelers use excel because it is the most customizable and flexible tool available. Software, as an option, can be too severe and doesn’t let you comprehend each line of a business’ procedures the way that Excel does.

Which Excel Skills Do Professional Financial Modelers Require?

There are numerous Excel formulas and functions needed to build a financial model. Here are a few common examples:

  • SUM Function adds up a set of numerals.
  • AVERAGE Function computes the average of a set of numbers.
  • COUNT Function calculates the number of cells that have numbers
  • MIN and MAX Function compute the minimum and maximum of a group of values.
  • SUMPRODUCT Function multiplies two groups of arrays and counts the totals.
  • IF Function is a logic-based procedure that can make your model more active
  • Charts & Graphs are an essential part of financial modeling.
  • Formatting skills can help distinguish great from good models.

Also read: Financial Modeling Course Scope

What Are Some of the Career Paths a Professional Financial Modeler Can Follow?

Some of the jobs that a financial modeler can pursue after completing a course in financial modeling are-

  • Investment Banking Analyst or Associate
  • Equity Research Analyst
  • Financial Analysts, Directors, and Managers

Also read: Is Financial Modeling a Good Career

Roles and Duties for some of the best jobs available to a financial modeler are:

  • Investment Banking Analyst

  1. In today’s globalized world, forming investments is significant for a person or a company.
  2. An Investment Banking Analyst is an expert in communication and networking. Since an Investment Banker is deeply concerned with acquisition and mergers, IPO, and more, they must be professionals in Financial Modeling.
  3. Research,  Analytical and problem-solving skills are a few essential skills required in this career.
  4. An Investment Banking Analyst does detailed research about the investment opportunities open in the market for their clients.
  5. They ensure that their customers earn profit and make safe long-term investments. They are knowledgeable about the financial market and research several aspects depending on their client’s requirements.
  6. They are accountable for creating and maintaining a detailed analysis of the possibilities suitable for their customers and then suggest investments based on their requirements and goals.
  7. An Investment Banking Analyst must tend to the new and old customer’s administrative tasks and focus on the outputs. They help organizations in reaching and implementing their long-term and short-term objectives.
  • Equity Research Analyst

  1. Equity Research Analysts are experts with excel as they design financial models and perform research and in-depth analysis of the business. The function of an Equity Research Analyst concerns providing elaborative and in-depth research information on the stock market industry.
  2. The reports should be thorough as it plays a crucial role in making major investment decisions concerning sales, purchase, and the ownership of specific investments.
  3. An Equity Research Analyst enables investors to make these decisions and provides them with a thorough financial analysis. The job of an Equity Research Analyst is very challenging, and the candidate should be favorably skilled in Excel, accounting, and finance.
  4. Financial Modeling examines all the aspects of excel, which is the most valuable tool that an Equity Research Analyst or Associate use. They help develop and maintain financial models, assess public information, and assemble other data types. Equity research helps provide insights into the economic sector, which later helps form investment decisions.
  • Financial Analysts, Managers, and Directors
  1. A Financial Analyst’s job is evolving more favorably every day. The role of a Financial Analyst is significant since they function with the financial planning and analysis division. This department comprises  Managers, Financial Directors, Analysts, etc.
  2. It is a significant position in most businesses since it helps identify the situation in a company. It also helps determine whether the company is struggling, on loss, or earning profits.
  3. A Financial Analyst is accountable for making a detailed study of how the organization is performing financially, if it is fulfilling its financial objectives, and creating a long-term plan which works in favor of the firm.
  4. A Financial Analyst estimates the performance of bonds, stocks, and other types of investments and directs an organization on assets accordingly.
  5. Some of the essential skills that a professional working in the financial planning and analysis unit are communication and writing skills, analysis, identifying threats, strategic thinking, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What does the financial model do?

We employ Financial models to estimate business valuation or compare businesses to their counterparts in the industry. They also are used in strategic planning to try various scenarios, estimate the cost of new projects, determine budgets, and assign corporate resources.

  1. How much do professional financial modelers make?

Employees who know Financial Modeling make an average of ₹22lakhs, mostly varying from ₹8lakhs per annum to ₹50lakhs per annum.

    1. Which is better, CFA or FMVA?

FMVA is more regarding valuations and financial modeling. Hence, the FMVA is more suited for investment banking or financial analyst positions, while the CFA is desirable for investment management positions such as portfolio and asset management.

  1. Is a certification from CFI worth it?

We recommend CFI for individuals who want to enhance their accounting, banking, and finance talents and level up in their jobs. It is worth each penny that you will pay

  1. Is financial Modelling complicated?

Finance itself is a complicated domain. It is hard to understand the essence of relationships between different financial variables, culminating  

in the financial statements. Nevertheless, many regard financial modeling as one of the most complex tasks, even in the Financial field.


Financial modeling skill is a marketable skill in contemporary scenarios where companies rely on data science to create Financial models and forecast future trends. It has a lot of scope in many finance and corresponding segments. However, you require years of practice and impeccable skills to be proficient in the field. We hope that the article gave you clarity on becoming a professional financial modeler in the current times. Happy learning.

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