During the months of November and December 2018 our junior and manager-level staff had the opportunity to participate in a financial modelling training. This training was offered by Training The Street, one of the best financial training organisations, which has a longstanding track record of financial courses for professionals and MBA students. We had one session each month and each session was structured in a two-day basis.
During the first training session we started with the set-up of fundamental components of the financial model like income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement and then we continued with the integration of additional elements like working capital, depreciation & amortisation schedules, debt schedule, etc.
Of course, it was a very pragmatic training with real-life scenarios where we analysed financial information of real companies and we used that one tool that is inseparable of every finance professional during his entire career: Excel. In addition to the financial knowledge that we applied in the exercises, we also had the chance to learn and put to the test some tricks and short cuts to expedite the calculations and structuring of the model. You cannot always know all the tricks in the book, so it is always very helpful to go over those keyboard combinations that allow you to save some valuable time especially in a critical situation when you must deliver quickly and flawless.
The second training session was more focused on company valuation, which is certainly a big part of our business and for us very important not only to understand but to have a certain proficiency in. Thus, learning new tools which we can apply in different scenarios and enhancing our capabilities in this discipline is always a good idea. We went through the different methods of valuation and analysed again real-world cases that took place a few years ago. Additionally, we also analysed consequences of mergers and leveraged buyouts. The scope of the last part was rather focused on large-cap transactions involving publicly listed companies, but it was also exciting to examine that kind of cases which also require a profound analysis including elaborate calculations.
All in all, it was a great training and we could gain significant know-how sustained by the material provided which allowed us to learn step-by-step and get deeper insights into more complex financial topics; for some of us perhaps new or at least partially new and for some others it was a good refresh.
Personally, I find it very useful to learn new procedures and best-practices of experts who have a solid background in financial training, especially when it contributes to improve our skills on something we do on a daily basis. What also made a big difference was our instructor, Darren Gortz, who always took care of us in case we had a question or got stuck at a certain point during the session. Darren worked for top bulge bracket investment banks and had of course already been through all possible situations and knows first-hand what it takes to have a strong skillset in the M&A business.
Another important aspect is the fact that all the team members, from interns to senior managers, were invited to take part of this training and regardless of their rank, everybody was able to share some personal experiences and learnings from past projects while gaining knowledge on new tools to strengthen our financial modelling techniques. That is, from my personal point of view, the main difference between learning and improving our financial knowledge on the job and “just” solving a case at the university or business school where you are not that close to the real scenarios and don’t have the true feeling of facing a major challenge and assuming real responsibility.