The Modeller's Miscellany - Top 10!

The top 10 articles from the last six months.

· Modellers Miscellany


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1) Article // That Covid Excel error.

A lot has been written about the UK government omitting 16,000 cases from its COVID stats due to an Excel error. One of the best articles is this one from Wired magazine. We're going to start describing ourselves as Excel Warriors in the light of this article. Perhaps it's time for F1F9 to update its Dirty Dozen ebook about spreadsheet horror stories.

2) Excel Innovation // Microsoft announces Lambda.

Microsoft announced the introduction of Lambda, transforming the way you create user-defined functions in Excel. It is no longer necessary to use VBA to create user-defined functions. The real biggie is this: Excel can now do any calculation. There's no more 'You should use package X because Excel can't do that. If you want to know why this is such a big deal, Iain Morrow, CTO at Gridlines, wrote this blog post discussing the implications.

3) Article // How to speed up your financial models.

Mazars have completed their excellent three-part series on how to speed up financial models. This is a topic that many modellers writing larger, more complex models struggle with. Read the final installment and catch up on part one and part two.

4) Article // The best article about Excel ever written.

"If you want to see the future of B2B software, look at what Excel users are hacking together in spreadsheets today". This article is an in-depth look at why Excel is here to stay. And why at the same time the unbundling of what users do in Excel has already created companies with market caps of half a trillion dollars. 

"Excel is the bonsai tree of software: the more non-core use cases pruned off by unitasker products, the healthier it gets." Read More.

5) Article // Gaming in Excel.

Many of us believe we have created some complex Excel models in our time. But how many of us can claim to have recreated an entire game in our favourite application?

A Japanese programmer has reproduced the classic RPG Dragon Quest 3 in Excel, without the use of any VBA. That is some Jedi-level Excel skill right there.

6) Article // Spreadsheet errors continue to make headlines.

From COVID-19 track and trace to the US elections, spreadsheet errors have been in the news this year including this one - a discounted cash flow spreadsheet error in a spreadsheet used to value Tesla's acquisition of SolarCity.

The spreadsheet double-counted some of SolarCity’s projected indebtedness. This led to Lazard valuing SolarCity’s equity between $14.75-$30.00 per share instead of $18.75-$37.75 per share. This resulted in SolarCity being discounted by $400M in the deal.

These repeated errors are leading to calls for the IT industry to be regulated.

7) Article // How to value a start-up.

Those of us who spend a lot of time modelling think a lot about valuation. In some sectors, like project finance, cash flows are relatively predictable and so discounting equity cash flows is the obvious valuation method. Particularly challenging is valuing start-ups where the level of uncertainty around future cash flows is the greatest. This article by Stephene Nasser gives a useful primer on 9 methods for valuing start-ups.

8) Resources // Maslow's pyramid for Excel.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his well-known pyramid to better understand human needs and motivation; the idea being that people strive to reach higher levels of the pyramid.

Business Modelling expert Gary Knott wrote this article applying it to Excel. It's a useful framework and mentions lots of useful Excel/modelling resources. Read more

9) Article // Where next for the spreadsheet?

Over the past few years, the number of tools springing up around Excel has exploded. Helping modellers to get to grips with these new tools is a core part of the Full Stack training methodology. This article from Dawn Capital gives a useful overview of how the ecosystem around Excel is evolving. Particularly useful is the distinction between tools that are seeking to augment spreadsheets, vs those that are trying to replace them. Read more.

10) Webinar // Financial Modelling Standards

On Thursday 19th January 2021 some of the most prominent names in the financial modelling profession got together to discuss financial modelling standards. The discussion did not disappoint!

You can watch the recording here. With fantastic dialogue between the panelists and amongst those in the chat room, this is surely just the first of a series of conversations about the future of financial modelling and the role standards can play.

Special thanks to Danielle Stein Fairhurst for hosting this event superbly.

And finally // Because we love pie chart based humour.

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