11 Factors to Consider When Searching
for Financial Modeling Courses
If you’d like to move into the investment banking field, it’s vital to understand financial modeling. It’s a skill you must have if you want to interview for investment banking positions – and it’s a skill that investment bankers who graduated from prestigious universities have developed and honed. You can gain this skill through financial modeling courses.
Financial modeling is a process—as you’ll discover in modeling courses. Firms use financial modeling to construct a financial representation of a company so that the bank, potential investors, and companies themselves can understand historical and future performance and how companies and assets should be valued.
A typical financial model of a company might include:
- Revenue and expense projections
- The income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement on both a historical and projected basis
- More advanced features such as depreciation schedules, debt service analysis, and book / cash taxes.
Those points above are for an operating model of a company, which shows its financial performance as a standalone entity. Other common models include valuations, merger model, and leveraged buyout (LBO) models, all of which service very specific purposes.
With a valuation, you look at similar companies and deals as well as the cash flow a company generates to determine how much it’s worth; in a merger model you see whether an acquisition of another company would increase or decrease earnings per share (EPS), and with an LBO analysis you determine whether or not you could earn a solid return by investing in or buying 100% of a company and then selling it in 3-5 years.
The core of financial modeling for standalone companies is simple: you look at how the company has performed historically, and then make projections off that historical data and what other analysts are predicting. So if the company has grown revenue 10-15% in the past 3 years, you might assume that going forward they grow 5-10% and that the growth declines each year. Then from there, you can make assumptions about their margins and other line items.
It sounds simple, and the basic concepts are not complicated – but the devil is in the details. Financial modeling is a mix of art and science, because there’s often no “right” or “wrong” way to make projections. It comes down to personal preference, what the client wants, and how much detail you need. It gets really tricky when you have unusual accounting, non-recurring items, and revenue and expenses that don’t follow straightforward patterns.
If you’re looking to launch a career in the investment banking field, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: accurate financial modeling is a sought-after skill you can learn through financial modeling courses. The bad news: it’s not easy to develop key financial modeling skills and you’ll need highly specific training from experienced instructors.
But there’s more good news: the financial modeling courses you need to develop financial modeling skills are massively less expensive than four years at an Ivy League school followed by two years in a top-tier MBA program. There are several ways to gain financial modeling skills:
- Offline Courses and Classroom Training
- Distance Learning
- Online Courses
If you’re looking for financial modeling training, what should you consider?
Financial Modeling Courses & Training
1. The Quality of the Curriculum.
This is the most important factor for your success, because if the material isn’t up to par you won’t improve your chances of breaking into the industry.
At Breaking Into Wall Street, we’ve focused on the content above all else. That’s why we don’t do offline courses, classroom training or anything like that – we’d rather focus on the online experience and make it great.
The Advanced Financial Modeling program, for example, includes 100 lessons and over 30 hours of video on topics that most other programs don’t even touch – how book vs. cash taxes, NOLs, and different transaction types work in merger models, for example.
And all the courses on our site, from Excel and modeling fundamentals to the industry-specific lessons, are based on case studies so you learn from real-world examples as opposed to academic textbooks.
2. The Author(s) of the Programs.
The problem with many financial modeling courses is that they’re not based on what you do in the real world at banks, PE funds, and other finance firms.
That’s why our programs were created by a diverse team with experience in everything from start-ups to investment banking to sales & trading to private equity and venture capital. You can read about everyone’s backgrounds here.
3. Theory Backed By Real World Examples.
Understanding and learning the theory is important – but theory will only take you so far.
Make sure the investment banking training you take includes “real world” examples and ideally case studies based on real companies and transactions. In one of our courses, Excel &Financial Modeling Fundamentals, we use case studies based on several companies and M&A deals, including: Apple and Research in Motion; TPG’ s acquisition of J Crew; ConAgra’s proposed acquisition of Ralcorp; Intel’s acquisition of McAfee.
4. Delivery of the Investment Banking Training.
How is the content provided? Is it a series of PDFs? Books? Manuals? Videos? All of the above? Think about what works best for you when it comes to investment banking training.
Here, we do everything in video format and provide quick reference PDFs and comments on the lessons. We think that works well for teaching financial modeling, and it lets us quickly and easily update the courses – but everyone learns differently.
5. Self-Testing So You Retain What You Learn.
One of the best ways to make sure you retain what you learn is self-testing. When you assess investment banking training, look into how the program helps you retain the curriculum – whether that’s through homework assignments, quizzes, or interactivity and questions and answers.
Here, we provide “Before” and “After” files you can use to test yourself as well as the ability to ask questions and receive answers on everything on the site.
Many online training companies have little or no service and support and this can slow your progress. When you’re studying something as complex as case studies of mega-M&A deals, the last thing you want is to not be able to receive answers to all your question.
So make sure the investment banking training company you choose has world-class support with experienced bankers answering your questions, comments, and emails 365 days per year.
Check with the company and check their testimonials. Is the investment banking training company helping students and professionals alike get results? And a result is a JOB in the investment banking field (or related fields such as private equity and hedge funds).
Yes, learning for the sake of learning is great, but let’s not forget the purpose of training programs: to land high-paying job offers.
8. Money-Back Guarantee.
If you make a significant investment in investment banking training and you’re not satisfied, what happens? With Breaking Into Wall Street we provide a rock-solid, money-back guarantee on all the courses.
Most other companies don’t do that, which we think is laughable – if your courses are so great, why don’t you stand behind them and guarantee how good they are?
9. Sample Material.
Does the investment banking training company provide sample material so you can see what you’re getting before you make your investment? At Breaking Into Wall Street, we’ve provided dozens of sample videos from all the courses. Here’s one from our Excel &Modeling Fundamentals Course.
You’d never buy a book without being able to peek inside first, and it’s the same with training programs – no matter how advanced they are.
One of the keys to landing a great job in the investment banking field is specialization. At Breaking into Wall Street, we have specialized courses for Real Estate & REITs, Oil & Gas, and Banks & Financial Institutions.
True, you may not need to specialize right away… but advanced knowledge really comes in handy in the future and when you’re up against tough competition in interviews. We urge you to think long-term about what skills you’ll need not only today, but also 10 years into the future.
11. Getting Your Foot in the Door.
You can have all the knowledge and expertise, but it’s pretty much useless if you can’t network and you can’t ace your interviews.
Some online investment banking training courses provide solid content, but don’t provide real world advice when it comes to securing interviews and getting your foot in the door. At Breaking into Wall Street, we have dedicated courses for both of those: The Investment Banking Interview Guide and the IB Networking Toolkit. Both will help you land jobs with banks, PE firms, hedge funds, and more.
A solid financial modeling training course should include the following:
- Financial Modeling Lessons covering Accounting 101 up through 3-Statement Models, Valuations, Merger Models, and LBO Models.
- Excel Lessons including data manipulation, formatting, formulas, and advanced topics like pivot tables, macros, and custom shortcuts – plus time-saving shortcuts.
- Advanced material on segment-level revenue/expense projections, valuation nuances such as non-recurring charges in comps and stub periods in DCF models, and advanced purchase price allocation, debt schedules, book/cash taxes and NOLs, and more in merger and LBO models.
- Industry-specific modeling on topics like real estate, oil & gas, and banks & insurance firms – along with overview and case study lessons.
Getting a job on Wall Street isn’t easy – especially with how competitive the recruiting environment has gotten. Some banks rarely even advertise their jobs openly.
So it’s VITAL to have the “toolbox” and know how to use the tools in the intense and fast-paced world of investment banking. You also need to understand what hiring decision makers are looking for so you know how to approach them and find success during interviews.
One excellent way to gain the knowledge and expertise you need is to take classroom-based financial modeling training. In most cases, this involves going in-person to meet with an instructor. You work with the instructor, learn the skills, and complete homework; it’s one option for learning modeling.
While this type of financial modeling training can be effective, it’s costly: it might be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 or more. A strong alternative is an online course that lets you progress at your own pace and provides all the skills you need to get the result you want to achieve.
This approach is based on video training where you look over the shoulder of the instructor. At Breaking into Wall Street, we provide a full suite of Investment Banking Training courses that 10,000+ students and professionals have already used to get on the road to successful investment banking careers.
You can meet them here.
Getting into the investment banking field is difficult, but by no means impossible. It comes down to how dedicated and persistent you are, and also how committed you are to gaining the required skills. So, it’s your call: you can take financial modeling training and ensure that you’re more than prepared… or you could leave it to chance. In today’s market, I wouldn’t rely on luck.