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Webinar Recap: Standardize Financial Modeling at Your Organization

Is your organization interested in increasing brand compliance, reducing errors, and improving efficiency when it comes to financial reporting? Are you an Excel power user who understands the importance of standardizing financial modeling, but unsure how to implement them? Wondering where you start, which steps need to be taken, and what success looks like along the way?

If you’ve got about an hour, our A Guide to Guidelines: Standardizing Financial Modeling at Your Organization webinar has you covered. Held as a free live event hosted by CFI’s Chief Content Officer, EVP and VP of Financial Modeling, Scott Powell, Duncan McKeen, and Jeff Schmidt, it dives into their past experiences to showcase the importance of financial modeling standardization, and share a recommended roll-out process to set your organization up for success.

Read the highlights below or grab a coffee and watch the full, free webinar recording on your own time. 

What are CFI’s Financial Modeling Guidelines?

CFI’s free Financial Modeling Guidelines is a thorough and complete resource covering model design, building blocks, and best practices for designing and building robust, world-class financial models

These guidelines will resonate with individuals building their own models, as well as the corporations and other organizations using them. Larger institutions may welcome more consistency and standardization in the models they use across their teams, saving time and mitigating the risk of human error.

Why is it important to standardize financial modeling? 

“If you’re a power user of Excel, and you’re in Excel all day, using standardized financial modeling guidelines takes a lot of the guesswork out…I was saving roughly an hour a day,” Scott mentions in the webinar regarding one reason to standardize. 

It’s important to know that many of the models we encounter today are poorly designed, difficult to maintain, and hard to follow. These financial models are the most important decision-making tool in modern finance. 

Jeff explains that “when [he] was in equity research, there was a mistake in one of [their] formulas and it made a number a negative…It added $1 billion in EBITDA!” This goes to show just how critical it is to have models built to the highest possible standards—and that your organization has a standardized, cohesive system that governs how you’re going to build and maintain them as well.

The 3 main reasons why organizations should standardize financial modeling are: 

  1. Brand Compliance
  2. Reductions in Errors
  3. Productivity Gains

Setting a standard for financial modeling isn’t just best practice—it’s future-proofing.

Top questions from the live Financial Modeling Guidelines webinar

We had lots of amazing questions coming in during the webinar and throughout the Q&A period. Here are the top three in case you’re wondering the same things.

Is there a particular step in this process that companies typically find difficult?

Duncan: “The most difficult step would be removing obstacles. I’ve just seen it happen so many times where there’s really good intentions, they’ve identified and created a sense of urgency, you might have buy-in from the top, a core group of model builders that even push out a new model design. The obstacle they get hit with is time related. If management isn’t actually giving the modeling team time to rebuild the models, it’ll stop the process dead in its tracks. From my experience, that’s where companies really struggle.”

How long does it typically take to properly implement Financial Modeling Guidelines?

Jeff: “It depends. It can take from a couple months to a year or longer. It really depends on the organization, the size of the organization, how open the culture is to trying new things and moving away from legacy models.”

How can we show a return on investment from a project like this?

Duncan: “If you’ve found a massive error in a really important model, you don’t even need to calculate an ROI. You need to start implementing modeling guidelines. If that is not the issue, you can easily calculate an ROI, based on what Scott talked about earlier, the idea of saving one hour a day out of eight. If you want to get more into the weeds, you could look at a critical model, how long it takes to build it, how much time are we going to save every month because we can now load it and reload it faster. From what I’ve seen the payback period is usually months. You don’t have to wait for years to get payback.”

Get your free copy of CFI’s Financial Modeling Guidelines and see what standardization can do for your organization.

Expand on these highlights and everything in between by watching the free, full webinar. If you’re interested in courses and resources for training and upskilling finance and banking teams, you can explore them here.

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