Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Which Course Is Right For Me?
The Interview Guide and Networking Toolkit will be less relevant if you’re at the Vice President, Director, or Managing Director level, or if you’re making a career change into finance at a senior level (e.g., you were a Partner at a law firm and now you are moving into private equity or investment banking).
You may still find some useful bits in those courses, but the focus is on junior-level roles within the industry.
The financial modeling courses, however, may be useful regardless of your level. Senior bankers have signed up for the courses before and gotten something out of them.
For example, perhaps you are working on a deal in an industry sector you’re unfamiliar with and you need to get up to speed rapidly – or you need to review work submitted by a junior employee and see if his analysis is correct.
First, please note that you do get the best deal we offer – the BIWS Platinum package – if you sign up for all the courses on the site at once.
So, if you’ll be using the courses for a long time into the future, that sign-up option represents the best long-term value for you.
With that said, you do not necessarily need every single course at once. Here is an overview of when each course will be useful for you:
- IB Networking Toolkit: If you’re having trouble getting interviews in the first place, you don’t know how to network, or you’re from a non-traditional background and you’re having trouble getting banks to talk to you.
- IB Interview Guide: If you have summer internship, full-time, or lateral interviews lined up and now you’re preparing for those interviews.
- Excel & VBA: If you want to master Excel, automate your workflow, and prepare for an upcoming internship or full-time role – or review and polish your Excel skills.
- Financial Modeling Mastery: If you want to learn the modeling skills you need for IB/PE interviews in more depth than what is covered in the interview guide, or if you want to learn accounting, valuation, and modeling from the ground up by building your own Excel models.
- PowerPoint Pro: If you are about to start working, especially in a PowerPoint-heavy group such as equity capital markets, or if you want to learn PowerPoint for any other reason.
- Industry-Specific Courses (Real Estate and Banks): If you’re interviewing for one of these groups or you’re about to start working in one.
You can use the same networking strategies in all fields of finance, and you’ll end up using PowerPoint not only in investment banking, but also in fields like consulting and corporate finance.
The IB Interview Guide and financial modeling courses are helpful primarily for investment banking, private equity, hedge fund (primarily long/short equity and other value-oriented funds), equity research, and corporate development roles.
And for the industry-specific courses, you should also be familiar with accounting, valuation, and transaction modeling for “normal companies.”
The best way to ensure you meet these requirements is to sign up for one of the combo packages offered on the site, where you can learn Excel and financial modeling skills along with these industry-specific skill sets.
Yes. If the course you want to swap out is the same price as the one you want to enroll in, you can swap the courses.
Otherwise, if there is a price difference you can swap courses by paying the difference.
Note that you can only switch courses once. So, you cannot pay once and then “rotate” between different courses as you need them.
The financial modeling courses and the IB Interview Guide are still 99% applicable. The main difference in other regions is that models use local currencies instead of US Dollars, and interviewers may ask you about local stock market indices as opposed to the NASDAQ or the Dow Jones.
We cover companies and deals worldwide (Europe, Asia, North America, Australia, and South America) in the financial modeling courses as well.
The networking strategies taught in the IB Networking Toolkit still “work” in other regions, but you’ll sometimes have more trouble finding domestic/boutique firms in other countries because the finance industry is smaller elsewhere.
What is in the Courses?
Yes. Each course on the site is a separate product:
- Investment Banking Networking Toolkit
- IB Interview Guide
- Excel & VBA
- PowerPoint Pro
- Financial Modeling Mastery
- Real Estate & REIT Modeling
- Bank & Financial Institution Modeling
Each one is separate, and you sign up for each one separately.
We also offer combo package and bundles for some of the courses, which you can read more about by clicking here.
Please refer to the course outlines on each course page listed above.
Please refer to the course pages listed above – each one includes sample lessons.
Once you sign up for a course, you’ll create an account and password, and you’ll be able to log in and access all the materials.
It is very similar to how you use Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+.
The content consists of videos along with quick reference guides, transcripts, and written templates for some courses.
There are no physical products, and there is no shipping because everything is delivered online instantly.
- You would have to wait for the package to arrive and you would not have instant access – which is problematic when you find out about an interview 16 hours before it takes place.
- Updates and additions are much more difficult to deliver with physical products.
- There’s no way to offer support and Q&A linked to specific lessons with a physical product.
The Investment Banking Networking Toolkit, PowerPoint Pro, Excel & VBA, Real Estate & REIT Modeling, and Bank & Financial Institution Modeling courses have no overlap with anything else and are completely independent.
The difference is that the modeling course teaches you how to build the models in Excel, step-by-step, while the interview guide is more conceptual and better for a “quick review” or last-minute preparation.
To account for this overlap we provide package deals and discounts once you sign up for one of the courses.
We don’t allow you to sign up for individual modules (e.g., only the LBO modeling modules in the Financial Modeling Mastery course) to keep the pricing policies transparent and reduce administrative costs.
You receive lifetime access.
There is no expiration date and you can come back to the courses whenever you want to in the future.
Each lesson on the site includes a full, word-for-word transcript. There are also detailed guides and written notes in Excel for each video-based lesson.
Potentially, you could finish all the courses without watching a single video if you use the written notes in the Excel files extensively.
Most of the videos also have captions/subtitles, but they may not be available for the most recent additions.
We are always in the process of adding them, however, so you should see them soon for any lesson that is currently missing them.
No, we do not offer in-person training.
Yes. Each lesson in each course has “Before” and “After” Excel files, so you can practice by following along with the video and then check your work against the completed file.
Once you sign up for the course(s) you will be subscribed to an email notification list, and you’ll receive notices of updates and new additions via announcements sent to that list.
You will also be able to view updates within the members’ area on the site.
Updates within a specific course are free once you sign up for that course. But if we introduce a completely new course, you would have to sign up for that separately.
NOTE: We do not guarantee a specific number of updates or a specific time frame for them. The content on this site has been developed over more than a decade and is now fairly mature – so, there’s less to add/improve compared with when the site launched in 2009.
Excel & VBA Course
Any modern version of Excel should work. Ideally, you will be using the 365 version, but the 2021, 2019, 2016, or even 2013 versions are also fine.
If you are using an older version, such as Excel 2010 or 2007, you’ll be able to complete most of the course, but some of the more advanced lessons will not be applicable.
We cover the PC and Mac versions of Excel in separate lessons in the course, so you can complete it using Mac Excel. Once again, ideally, you will be using the 365 version, but any modern version should be fine.
If you’re using a much older version, such as Mac Excel 2008 or Mac Excel 2011, we don’t recommend completing the course because the shortcuts and features are quite different.
No. We assume no existing knowledge of or experience with Excel.
There are no prerequisites other than a working installation of a modern version of Excel on your computer.
There are 74 lessons in total, which represents about 23 hours of video training. They cover everything from basic Excel navigation shortcuts through formatting, formulas, data analysis, graphs and charts, and VBA and macros.
There are also 240 pages of detailed written guides, a custom macros package, a custom Quick Access Toolbar (QAT), and separate lessons for PC and Mac Excel to learn the fundamental shortcuts.
For more details, please see the course description page.
In terms of completion time, we have 6-hour, 12-hour, 20-hour, and 30-hour study plans, so it depends on how much you want to get out of the course.
You can learn the most important points in 6 hours, but if you want to master everything, it will take closer to 30 hours (about one hour per day over a month).
The courses teaches you how to use Excel and VBA effectively for jobs such as investment banking, private equity, hedge funds, and commercial real estate (and related roles, like corporate development and corporate finance).
Outside of these finance roles, parts of the course may be useful if your job involves using Excel for data analysis. But the course is specifically geared toward finance jobs, so it’s probably not useful if you’re working in marketing or HR.
It is introductory-to-intermediate-level material. If you are already a VBA wizard, you will not learn anything new here.
If you do not know VBA or have not used it much, you will learn a lot and become more efficient at workflow automation.
There are macros for creating input boxes for assumptions, color-coding financial models, setting up models for printing, cycling number formats, changing the number of decimal places, flipping numbers from positive to negative and back, and flash filling right and down (i.e., copying and pasting to a boundary without selecting the area explicitly).
There are additional macros for error-wrapping formulas, toggling absolute vs. relative references in formulas, jumping to the min and max of a range, inserting Tables of Contents, and inserting Price-Volume graphs.
We do not aim to offer “the most” macros, so you can find paid software and subscription services that offer more functionality.
However, our solution is simple to install and use, it covers the most useful types of macros, and it’s FREE with the Excel & VBA course, with no additional support or subscription fees.
Financial Modeling Mastery Course
The course consists of 15 modules on topics ranging from basic finance theory (the time value of money, present value, etc.), up through accounting, 3-statement modeling, valuation, M&A deals and merger models, and leveraged buyouts and LBO models. There are also supplemental lessons about private companies and equity, debt, and convertible bond analysis.
The course is based on global case studies of companies and deals in countries such as the U.K. (EasyJet) and France (Vivendi), Japan (NichiiGakkan), Singapore (Maxeon), Korea (Kakao / Daum), Australia (Atlassian), and yes, also the U.S. (Steel Dynamics, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Cars.com, Builders FirstSource / BMC Stock Holdings, and Netflix).
The time required to complete the course depends on your goals and how much time you have available. Yes, there are hundreds of lessons altogether. No, you do NOT have to complete everything.
At the minimum, you need 8 hours to get something out of the course. Ideally, you will have more like 3-4 weeks to absorb the concepts at a deeper level. To get the maximum benefit out of the course, you’ll have to spend 2-3 months on it for approximately 1-2 hours per day.
Each lesson contains “Before” and “After” Excel files so you can practice and then check your work against the completed file. Full transcripts for all the lessons are also included and are downloadable within the site, as are written notes.
We provide key documents such as SEC filings, industry reports, and equity research for the deals and companies analyzed, as well as quick reference guides on key topics.
You should ideally have solid knowledge of Excel, such as the key navigation and formatting shortcuts, and the ability to enter and modify formulas.
To get the Excel training included with this course, as well as PowerPoint training, you can sign up for the BIWS Premium package.
At the minimum, you need 8 hours to get something out of the course. Ideally, you will have more like 3-4 weeks to absorb the concepts at a deeper level. And to get the maximum benefit out of the course, you should plan for 2-3 months at approximately 1-2 hours per day.
No, not at all. At the minimum, you need 8 hours to get something out of the course. Ideally, you will have more like 3-4 weeks to absorb the concepts at a deeper level. And to get the maximum benefit out of the course, you’ll have 2-3 months for it (at approximately 1-2 hours per day).
We provide study plans inside the courses that are tailored to the amount of time you have available.
Everything here is based on what you actually do at investment banks and other finance firms instead of academic theory.
Each module is based on a case study of a specific, real company or deal, where you build the model and then make an investment recommendation or client advisory recommendation at the end.
Then, you can use the course materials for your own case studies and interviews (and even on the job) to save time and get better results.
The models here were inspired by real models actually used at banks, but they are not literally real models for obvious legal reasons (if we used actual banks’ materials, they would sue us).
We created the content by gathering models used at banks and using the features, formatting, and layout as inspiration, and then modifying them as appropriate.
They are as step-by-step as they possibly can be, and we do walk you through all the most important calculations in Excel.
For each lesson, you receive “Before” and “After” Excel files and you can check your work against the “After” file to verify that it’s correct.
There are some boring parts that we skip over – for example, it’s a waste of time to show you how to input historical data from the financial statements in a video because it consists of pressing “Copy” and “Paste” repeatedly (as you stare at the screen and want to punch the video for being so boring).
Similarly, we skip over showing you how to enter text and labels in the worksheets because it would be as exciting as watching paint dry.
We focus on the analysis, the calculations, and the conclusions you can draw from the numbers.
The CFA covers a broader set of topics, but it does not go in-depth into the financial modeling, valuation, and accounting skills you actually use in investment banking, private equity, hedge funds, and related fields.
BIWS is focused on what you do in the real world, while the CFA is more theoretical and doesn’t teach you what bankers actually do in real-life.
Also, our curriculum does not require 750+ hours of study – the courses do take time, but you can complete the most important parts in weeks or months rather than years. Even if you want to finish everything in-depth, you might only spend 6 months doing so.
The CFA and the courses here are actually complementary, if anything: the CFA gives you the theory, and these courses give you the real-world practice.
The main difference is that our courses were designed specifically for online, self-paced learning and are NOT rehashed or re-purposed recordings of classroom training.
Most other companies selling “online courses” or “self-study courses” actually want you to sign up for their more expensive classroom training.
But we think that classroom training will go the way of the dinosaur, so we do NOT offer any in-person classes, nor do we hold anything back from the online courses.
Instead, we focus 100% of our time and resources on creating the best possible online experience.
The core difference is exactly what is stated above: the other companies are all, ultimately, trying to sell their in-person training classes.
We don’t think classroom training will even be around in 50 years, so we focus 100% of our time and energy on the online experience and the community, in order to create the best online training experience around.
If you want a point-by-point list, here’s a summary of the differences between the BIWS modeling courses and those offered by the other companies:
- Online Video-Based, from the Ground Up: These courses were designed specifically to be completed in a self-paced, online environment where you can track your progress, take notes, take quizzes, and test yourself along the way. Other companies’ “online courses” are simply rehashed versions of classroom training and do not offer the same experience.
- Case Study-Based: BIWS has more content than courses offered by any of the other companies, and the Financial Modeling Mastery course is based on 15+ separate, global case studies. In the modeling case studies, you also create written documents such as case study presentations, investment recommendations, equity research reports, and pitch books.
- Global Coverage of Non-U.S. Companies: Most other training providers focus on U.S.-based companies. But we take a global perspective and also include many examples from Europe, Canada, Asia, Australia, and other regions to illustrate the key accounting, valuation, and transaction differences.
- Teaching Method: We use analogies to explain key finance concepts, and we start with relatively blank Excel sheets and show you exactly what to do line-by-line. No other course provides step-by-step instruction in the same way.
- Quizzes and Certifications: Unlike other companies, we are completely transparent in this process and show you the exact questions in each quiz before you even sign up for the courses. You can also take the quizzes and automatically get your results and certifications without paying anything extra or waiting on someone to grade your exam.
- Lifetime Access & Expert Support: You receive lifetime access and free updates once you sign up, and you can ask detailed technical questions on the course materials for up to 24 months. Other providers do not offer these, or they limit your access or support in some way (e.g., they do not respond to detailed technical questions).
- Money-Back Guarantee: We offer a 90-day money-back guarantee on all the courses, which no other company in the market provides. There is no risk to you at all because you can simply return the course(s) and ask for a refund if you’re not satisfied.
You can print out the models, or parts of the models, and bring them with you to interviews. If you can explain everything and show the interviewer exactly what you did, they will be impressed.
You can also take the many case study documents, presentations, and other reports you’ll create in the courses, and re-use them or tweak them to create your own versions based on companies you’ve analyzed.
You can also point to the certifications you’ve received from the courses and show potential employers exactly what you had to learn to answer the questions.
Also, please see the guide on how to list the courses on your resume for additional ideas and sample language:
It covers both levels.
The guide is useful for the following fields:
- Private Equity
- Long/Short Equity and Merger Arbitrage-Type Hedge Funds (and any other value-oriented ones)
- Equity Research
- Corporate Development
The guide is NOT useful for sales & trading, macro-oriented hedge funds, and anything that’s less about specific companies and more about “the big picture.”
It is useful for any roles that involve accounting, valuation/DCF analysis, and analysis of transactions such as M&A deals and leveraged buyouts.
The best way to assess this is to go to the course description page and look at the sample chapters and lessons there.
While no guide is 100% original, this one contains material on topics such as Private Companies, ECM/DCM/Leveraged Finance, and Deal/Market Discussions that you won’t find anywhere else.
Plus, we take a very different approach to the core topics by teaching you the fundamentals first and then delving into the questions and answers. You wouldn’t even be able to answer the questions on basic topics like Equity Value and Enterprise Value in our guide if you relied on material from other companies.
Finally, we have 17 Excel-based case studies/modeling tests, similar to the ones given at assessment centers in EMEA. No other guide out there has the depth and breadth of case studies we cover, and most guides have no case studies at all.
Put simply, this is the most comprehensive interview guide in the world – and if you don’t believe us, check out the samples provided on the description page.
You cannot compare this guide to anything else on the market.
It’s almost a financial modeling course, given the 578+ pages of instruction on the technical topics, the 18+ Excel files, the video tutorials, the interactive quizzes, and the 17 practice case studies.
But since you asked, here’s why this interview guide is a premium product and what makes it different:
- Methodology: Rather than giving you endless lists of questions and answers, we teach the concepts first for both the “fit” and technical topics.
- Content: Altogether, there are over 1,000 pages of tutorials in the guide, with a special focus on “telling your story” in interviews (walking through your resume or CV) and the technical questions.
- Efficient Preparation: Yes, our guide is comprehensive, but you can also get something out of it in only a few hours. We provide study plans for 4-hour, 2-day, and week-long prep. And if you have more time than that, great! You can complete every last section of the guide.
- Topics Covered: We cover topics that no other guide teaches – Private Companies, ECM/DCM/Leveraged Finance, Real Estate, Banks and Insurance, Oil & Gas, and more. Plus, we go into far more depth on the core topics – accounting, equity value and enterprise value, and valuation/DCF analysis – than any other guide or textbook.
- Interactive Quizzes: You can test your understanding of the technical topics with 218+ quiz questions and answers on everything from accounting through LBO models – it’s like being in a real interview, but you don’t need to wear a suit.
- Resume Walk-Through Templates: Telling your “story” effectively is the most important part of any interview, but most guides skip this part completely. By contrast, we provide you with 18 templates and executed examples that show you how to pitch yourself effectively. There are also written guides and video tutorials for this topic.
- 17 Practice Case Studies: You’ll get practice completing 3-statement modeling, valuation/DCF, M&A, and LBO case studies – and there’s even a debt/equity case study as well. The allotted time ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours to simulate the time-pressured environment at an assessment center or in an interview. You also get the full solutions and video walk-through tutorials for all these cases.
- Support: You can also ask any questions you have directly on the site or via email – whether you want feedback on your “story,” answers to specific technical questions, or answers to general career-related questions. There are some limitations to this service – we can’t complete homework assignments or modeling tests for you, and the support period lasts for 24 months – but specific questions are covered.
- Lifetime Access and Free Updates: No other guide offers these because most other providers don’t have a long-term vision and commitment to the market. We’ve been working on this Interview Guide for over 10 years – most other companies haven’t even been around for that long!
We could go on, but the best way to understand everything above is to go to the page for the guide itself and look at the sample chapters and lessons there.
We created the content by conducting 50+ interviews with customers who successfully broke into investment banking coming from a variety of different backgrounds, at both the Analyst and Associate levels.
Then, we compiled all the strategies they used, aggregated the actual emails they sent and the conversations they had, and synthesized them into concise instructional videos and templates in the course.
We know it works because it’s based on what has already worked – and because existing customers have sent us hundreds of emails indicating how well it has worked for them.
Yes, because over 100,000 people apply for investment banking jobs each year in the US alone, and the customers on this site represent a tiny fraction of that number.
Also, every single script and template within the course has parts that you must fill out on your own – so bankers will never receive the same exact email from multiple applicants.
If you are concerned over this, there’s a simple solution: take a few minutes to modify the templates we provide, and put your own spin on them.
There is some material on what to do once you start working, but the focus is on networking to get interviews and offers in the first place.
If you have significant work experience (e.g., 5+ years) and you are past the Analyst or Associate level, we do not recommend signing up because the lessons will be less relevant.
You could, but the focus is on networking in the context of the finance industry. Many of the terms used within and the strategies discussed are specific to finance.
Because this information would go out-of-date very quickly due to the high turnover in the finance industry. It’s not feasible to constantly update contact information for 50,000+ bankers.
If we added a service like this, we would also have to significantly increase the price of the course because it’s expensive to find and update this type of contact information.
Also, for most boutiques and local firms it is relatively easy to find names, phone numbers, and email addresses by doing a simple Google search of the firm you’re interested in.
Bank & Financial Institution Modeling
This course is for you if you have a solid background in Excel, accounting, valuation, and M&A/LBO modeling, and you want to learn how to analyze and value commercial banks and insurance companies. Most of the lessons are related to commercial banks.
For example, if you’ve worked as a generalist or in another industry group in investment banking and you’re now moving into the financial institutions group, this course would be an excellent way to get a crash course on the material.
If you already have advanced knowledge of commercial banks and insurance firms (e.g., you’ve advised them on deals for 20+ years), this course is NOT for you unless you need to review the fundamentals.
Please see the Bank & Financial Institution Modeling course page for detailed and condensed outlines.
In total, there are 103 lessons (45 hours of video) with extensive written notes, several quick reference PDF guides, 150+ practice quiz questions, and a 32-page hedge fund/asset management stock pitch, a 13-page equity research report, and a 48-slide investment banking pitch book. The course is based on 4 global case studies: An operating model and valuation for Shawbrook (U.K.), KeyCorp’s $4.1 billion acquisition of First Niagara (U.S.), a growth equity investment in ANZ (Australia/New Zealand), and a buyout of the Philippine Bank of Communications.
On the commercial banking side, we cover the 3 financial statements for a bank, regulatory capital (Common Equity Tier 1, Tier 1, Total Capital, the LCR and NSFR requirements, etc.), the provision for credit losses and loan loss reserves, and how to project the 3 financial statements for a bank, starting with its loan portfolio, charge-offs, and recoveries.
We then teach key valuation multiples for public comps and precedent transactions, as well as the regression analysis, the dividend discount model and the residual income (excess returns) model.
Finally, we show you how to build a merger model for commercial banks, including loan marks, deposit divestitures, restructuring charges and cost synergies, core deposit intangibles, and adjustments to regulatory capital and federal funds purchased and sold. The last two modules cover private equity investing in banks, including both minority-stake and control deals.
We cover insurance in a set of Overview lessons, starting with accounting for premiums, losses and other costs, and revenue and expense recognition; we then cover how to project the financial statements for a P&C insurance company and the key valuation methodologies for both P&C and life insurance firms (including embedded value).
If you go through every single lesson and complete all the Excel file exercises, we estimate a completion time of 70-75 hours.
However, if you just need interview prep you can focus on the “Overview” lessons and learn the most important material for interviews in 10-15 hours.
And if you have almost no time, the first lesson of the course provides a crash course on all the topics in 45 minutes.
We suggest several different approaches to completing the course in a quick start guide PDF that you will receive after you sign up and confirm your email address.
You must have already completed the Excel & VBA and Financial Modeling Mastery courses, or you must have equivalent knowledge from work experience and/or other classes.
We move quickly and assume that you are already proficient with Excel and that you already know the fundamentals of accounting, valuation, and financial modeling.
The BIWS Bank Modeling course is the only one in the world that teaches you how to use bank modeling and valuation to create stock pitches, equity research reports, and investment banking pitch books. We cover far more material than other courses, and we built the course from the ground up to be an online, video-based course as opposed to one re-purposed from a classroom seminar.
Other courses do not provide examples of stock pitches, equity research reports, or IB pitch books, let alone all the detail on multi-stage dividend discount models, excess or deficit capital adjustments, and projecting a bank’s loan portfolio via GDP growth and market share estimates. They also include nothing on M&A and merger models, growth equity, or buyout models – and some do not even cover a topic as basic as valuation.
Yes, we cover both of these topics extensively in both the Overview lessons and the Shawbrook case study.
There are several hours of coverage on these topics, along with Excel examples, detailed slides, and outside reading.
The Shawbrook operating model and valuation case study also incorporates these requirements in-depth, including how to calculate regulatory capital differently and how to estimate figures like the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) and the Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR).
No, because financial institutions other than commercial banks and insurance firms are much more similar to “normal” companies and you do not use (nearly as many) different metrics, multiples, and methodologies.
For example, it’s perfectly acceptable to value a wealth management or brokerage firm with EV / EBITDA multiples; you might also look at AUM-based metrics such as EV / AUM for wealth management firms, but they are still not much different from standard companies.
We may add case studies on these other sectors in the future, but we will not create a dedicated course because there aren’t enough differences to justify it.
We do not have any other official course materials at this time. We do hope to add more material on insurance / life insurance in the future, but we do not yet have a time frame for those additions.
If you have specific questions on these sectors, feel free to ask us and we will attempt to answer what we can. However, if you ask about material not covered in the courses, we may or may not be able to answer your queries.
Yes. The introductory module of the course explains how banks’ financial statements differ on all six inhabited continents and in both developed markets and emerging markets, using examples from different countries (e.g., Brazil, South Africa, China, the Philippines, the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and the US).
And then the primary case study in the course is based on a U.K.-based bank (Shawbrook); the other case studies feature ANZ in Australia/New Zealand and the Philippine Bank of Communications.
Real Estate & REIT Modeling
This course is for you if you have a solid background in Excel, accounting, valuation, and M&A and LBO modeling, and you want to learn how to model real estate developments, acquisitions, and real estate investment trusts (REITs) and then make investment recommendations based on these analyses.
For example, if you’ve worked as a generalist or in another industry group in investment banking and you’re now moving into the real estate group, this course is an excellent way to get a crash course on the material. It is also useful for commercial real estate (CRE) firms, CRE lending, real estate private equity, and related fields.
If you already have advanced knowledge of the technical side of real estate, this course is unlikely to be helpful for you unless you want to review the concepts quickly.
Please see the Real Estate & REIT Modeling course page for an outline.
In total, there are 114 lessons (44 hours of video) with 300+ written pages on the key topics, along with full transcripts for everything.
There are 8 short case studies (30, 60, or 90 minutes) based on real estate development, acquisition, and renovation deals and REIT valuations.
Then, there are 9 longer, more in-depth case studies (2 to 4 hours) based on similar topics but with more complex models and case questions. There’s also coverage of REIT Debt vs. Equity deals, M&A deals, and leveraged buyout deals.
These lessons and case studies cover all the most important topics: NOI, Cap Rates, TIs, LCs, rent rolls, waterfall returns schedules, debt and equity draws and modeling, NAV models for REITs, DCF and cash flow projections for REITs, and more.
If you have limited time to prepare, you can also complete Module 1 of the course (the short case studies) in a weekend and get up to speed quickly.
If you have limited time, we designed Module 1 of the course specifically for you because it features short and simple case studies that get you up to speed on real estate quickly. You can finish these exercises in a weekend (10-15 hours of time).
If you want to go beyond this and finish everything in the course, we estimate a total completion time of 60-70 hours, or about 2 months if you spend 1 hour per day on the course.
If you want to focus on *just* properties or *just* REITs, you can finish the relevant lessons for either of those in about 30-35 hours, or about 1 month if you spend 1 hour per day on the course.
You must have already completed the Excel & VBA and Financial Modeling Mastery courses, or you must have equivalent knowledge from work experience and/or other classes.
Here’s a simple test: Do you know what PV, NPV, and IRR mean? And could you write an INDEX/MATCH function to retrieve data in Excel?
If not, you should start with one of the introductory courses or sign up for the combo package that also gives you access to the Excel & VBA and Financial Modeling Mastery courses.
The short answer is that we offer the only course on the market that teaches you to complete case studies and modeling tests given in interviews quickly and efficiently, and which also gets you up to speed quickly if you’re preparing for the job itself.
Most other courses offer examples and models that are convoluted and difficult to use in real life, or they are not based on the tasks you have to complete in real interviews and on the job. Also, they do not help you at all if you have limited time to prepare.
Finally, just regarding the depth and breadth of material, nothing else compares to our course – we have investment recommendation presentations, dozens of Excel file examples, and coverage of topics such as REIT M&A and REIT leveraged buyouts that you will not find in books, textbooks, or other sources.
No. We don’t teach it because it is fairly complicated and expensive software that not everyone has access to, and teaching it would require a whole separate course.
We focus on Excel-based financial modeling, so we teach you how to replicate much of the functionality of ARGUS in Excel and VBA – such as tenant lease modeling and different assumptions for rent, rental escalations, absorption & turnover vacancy, concessions and free rent, tenant improvements, leasing commissions, expense reimbursements, and more.
In all the case studies based on individual properties, we use Cap Rates to establish the purchase and exit prices, and in one of the case studies, we also complete a DCF for the property and value it with comparable sales and a Replacement Cost analysis.
With REIT valuation, we show you how to screen for comparable companies and transactions, gather data, and use multiples such as P / FFO, P / AFFO, and P / EPRA Earnings to value the subject company.
We also walk you through examples of DCF analyses, NAV models, and the Dividend Discount Model (DDM) for REITs.
Neither one is “cheap,” but both are comprehensive and will give you information about relevant property sales and developments in your region.
Also, you can find a lot of free information and reports from real estate brokerage firms with simple Google searches for major cities. We found almost all the data in the case studies here via Google searches.
Yes. The course includes examples of properties and companies from the U.S., Canada, U.K., UAE, Brazil, Singapore, Australia, France and Spain, Hong Kong, and more.
This course is for you if you want to gain a solid understanding of how to use PowerPoint to create presentations and pitch books for use in the finance industry. We cover not just the keyboard shortcuts, but also how to *think* about presentations and the most useful structures for presentations and individual slides.
The core lessons focus on how to create a sell-side M&A / valuation pitch book for Jazz Pharmaceuticals, but they are generally applicable to presentations in private equity, hedge fund, and other finance roles.
If you’re about to start an investment banking internship, for example, and you don’t know much about PowerPoint or how to turn your Excel files into actionable recommendations, this course would be a good fit for you.
Even if you’re a PowerPoint veteran and you’ve used the program for years, you are guaranteed to learn something new here, as we teach material not found in books and other online sources – and we provide a study plan for getting the most out of the course if you already have more advanced knowledge.
Please see the PowerPoint Pro course page for an outline.
In total, there are 49 lessons (20 hours of video) with a quick reference guide PDF on the most important keyboard shortcuts, along with full transcripts for everything and written notes for all the core lessons. There are also 100+ examples of real presentations used by banks, practice exercises, sample company and deal profile templates, and more.
In the course itself, we teach you how to create a sell-side M&A / valuation pitch book for Jazz Pharmaceuticals, based on materials from the Financial Modeling Fundamentals course. You’ll learn how to create each slide in the presentation from the ground up, including the company profiles, process diagrams, corporate hierarchy slides, and more.
The lessons teach you how to set up PowerPoint correctly and use the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) to maximize your speed, how to use shapes, slides, alignment and distribution, and how to use the Slide Master and Sections, Excel and Word data, images, and more. You’ll also learn how to apply “finishing touches” to your presentation, and you’ll get practice exercises and examples of how to create deal and company profiles.
You can get a lot out of the course regardless of whether you’re brand new to PowerPoint or you’ve used it for years – we guarantee you will pick up at least a few tricks here that you have not seen before.
If you go through every single lesson and complete all the PowerPoint file exercises, we estimate a completion time of 25-30 hours.
However, we have four different “study plans” in the course, and you can complete the most important parts in as little as 5 hours if that’s all you have. We also provide additional study plans for 10-15 hours of time.
You should ideally be using PowerPoint 2013, 2016, 2019, or beyond (or PowerPoint as offered in Office 365), but PowerPoint 2010 will also work. PowerPoint 2003 and 2007 are not supported.
The Mac versions of PowerPoint are not supported. We strongly recommend installing Parallels or another program that lets you use the PC/Windows versions of programs, because the Mac versions of Office are more limited and do not support all the keyboard shortcuts you need.
Package Deals & Discounts
In the interest of fairness to all customers, we do not offer discounts on individual courses.
However, there are package deals available, and once you sign up for one course, you will receive access to any members-only specials we are running at the moment.
The other package deals listed on our Discounts & Coupons page reflect the best rates available.
It’s not fair to the 48,569+ customers who have already signed up at the published rates.
Package deals are available but we have to be strict on prices for standalone, individual courses.
For more, please see our BIWS Discounts & Coupons page to review the different options.
Once you log into the site, click on “Courses” in the header, and you’ll see any promotions or coupon codes we are currently offering.
No, for the same reasons mentioned above: it would not be fair to existing customers who signed up at the current rates.
We do not allow this because your progress in each course, your quiz results, your notes, your certifications, and all your comments and questions are linked to your individual account.
So if you shared the account with your friend, you would receive a certification with your friend’s name on it instead, and you would not be able to track your own progress through the lessons.
Also, you need a unique email address to sign in and use the site, reset your password, and make changes to your account.
It may be legitimate – we do have a few partners who offer their own bonuses when you sign up for one of our courses through them.
Note, however, that we do NOT grant free access to any of the BIWS courses on this site regardless of whether you sign up through us or through another site.
So if you see someone who claims to offer free access to a BIWS course, as opposed to his/her own custom bonus, he/she is NOT legitimate and you should ignore the offer.
Customer Service & Support
You can ask questions and receive answers by doing one of the following:
- Go directly to the lesson you have questions on and ask your questions there. We will then respond to your question and you can track our responses over time.
- Go to the Contact Form and email us with your questions.
We will answer detailed questions on the course materials for up to 24 months after you have signed up.
After that 24-month period ends, we will still respond to administrative questions and simple queries, but we will no longer answer detailed technical questions.
We respond to emails and questions left on the site within one (1) business day, and often more quickly than that.
We cannot offer instantaneous responses to all questions because doing so would substantially increase the course prices, given the additional employees required to support those response times.
On balance, we have found that most customers prefer to pay less and accept responses within 1 business day rather than paying additional fees for quicker responses.
We can answer questions related to the course content as well as general career-related questions.
For example, if you have a question about how to present your story in an interview, or you’re confused about a calculation in one of the models on the site, we can answer those questions.
We cannot complete homework assignments or case studies for you, nor can we respond to last-minute requests to fix Excel problems.
This is because tracking down specific Excel problems often takes hours, and it is not feasible for us to look at a file we have never seen before and instantly figure out what is going wrong in 5 minutes.
We cannot complete entire case studies, modeling tests, or work projects for you because it’s far beyond the scope of these services, and it’s unethical for us to do the actual work for you.
At this time, all technical support (e.g., if you have a question on valuation or LBO models) is provided via email or via the question & answer system within the site itself.
If you have a billing or administrative question, you will receive a phone number to call once you sign up for a course and join the site.
We do offer phone support for billing and administrative questions, and you’ll receive a number to call once you sign up.
We do not offer phone support for technical questions because doing so would significantly increase the course prices (the same issue described above in question #3).
Asking your questions within the site also benefits you directly because:
- You can also view all previous questions and answers before even asking your question.
- You can get more helpful responses where we reference specific models, videos, and documents on the site.
- You can also track your questions and our responses, and go to a page within the site where you can print out a collated summary of everything.
If you have an urgent account or billing problem, you will receive a phone number to call once you sign up for a course on the site.
The Excel and PowerPoint files and PDFs are downloadable within the site itself, so you will still be able to access everything even if the ownership of the site changes in the future.
Should this happen, we would post an announcement well in advance of any changes and everything would be available for download over an extended period.
We normally do not make bulk video downloads available, but if the site shuts down in the future, we will enable this option and post links to all the videos in the courses.
All the modeling courses and guides come with a 90-day 100% money-back guarantee. If you’re unsatisfied with anything, you can simply email us and ask for your money back within 90 days of signing up.
Note that this refund policy does NOT apply to the resume editing and coaching services, because they are intensive, 1-on-1 services where we work with you in-depth over several weeks (or more).
As a result, we do not offer refunds on resume editing and coaching (whether purchased individually or as part of a package).
There is no catch. It is standard to offer money-back guarantees for online courses, though we are more generous than most companies since we provide a 90-day guarantee.
The only exception is for resume editing and coaching, which are not courses offered directly on this site – they are actually a part of Mergers & Inquisitions, our sister site.
For more about what makes us different and our core values, please review the Why Choose BIWS? page.
Finally, feel free to ask around online or in forums and see what users have to say about our courses.
Website & Technical Questions
No. Everything is a normal file and we do not use any DRM technology within the site.
You can download all the Excel/PowerPoint/PDF files and use them on multiple computers or other devices.
You can download the Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF files, but not the videos.
If you have a special requirement and need access to the videos offline due to travel, a slow connection, limited bandwidth, or some other issue, we may make limited exceptions to this policy and allow downloads of the videos.
You will be able to watch the videos, listen to the audio files, read the documents, and edit and complete all the Excel files on the Mac.
Additionally, the Excel course includes a quick reference guide for Mac Excel shortcuts, and we cover the PC and Mac versions of Excel in separate tutorials (where applicable).
Note that the PowerPoint course is NOT designed for the Mac version of PowerPoint, and we do not cover Mac-specific shortcuts there. Parts of the course will still be relevant, but we cannot guarantee that everything will work properly, particularly in older versions of PowerPoint.
You should be able to watch the videos, listen to the audio files, and read the documents with no problem.
However, you’ll need to use a Windows emulator or virtual machine if you want to follow along in Excel and use all the Excel files within the course.
Yes. We use responsive design, which means that the site automatically adapts and shows up differently depending on your screen size.
The interface will not be as feature-rich on a small smartphone screen, but the site will be functional and you can still watch videos, take quizzes, take notes, leave comments, and so on.
The models work in Excel in Office 365, as well as all modern desktop versions of Excel: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019 (which are the ones that 99.9% of firms and individuals are currently using).
All models work in Mac Excel 2011 and beyond (including in Office 365 for the Mac).
Yes, all major browsers are supported. We recommend Chrome, Firefox, or Safari for the optimal browsing experience.
Yes. Once you have a username and password, you can log in from anywhere you want.
Quizzes & Certifications
Currently, we offer certifications for the Excel & VBA course, the Financial Modeling Mastery course, the Bank & Financial Institution Modeling course, and the Real Estate & REIT Modeling course.
Each course has a SEPARATE quiz and certification.
In other words, if you sign up for the BIWS Premium package you would NOT take a quiz and then receive a certification for the entire Premium package.
Instead, you would complete the quizzes for the Excel & VBA course and the Financial Modeling Mastery course separately, and then you would receive a certification for each one, once you achieve a score of 90% on each quiz.
Each quiz includes anywhere from 50 to 200 multiple choice questions, some with 1 correct answer and some with multiple correct answers.
You enter your answers for all the questions, and if you earn a score of AT LEAST 90% – based on points, not the percentage of correct questions – you receive the certification and can save it or print it out.
Example: You’re taking a quiz with 100 questions and 150 available points (since some of the questions have multiple correct answers).
You get 90 out of 100 questions correct, which is a score of 90%.
However, you only earn 133 points because you answer incorrectly several questions with multiple correct answers.
In this case, you would NOT receive the certification because 133 / 150 = 88.7%, which is less than 90%.
If, however, you earned at least 135 points out of the 150 available points, you would receive the certificate since 135 / 150 = 90%.
Once you complete the quiz, you can view your INCORRECT answers by going to the “My Quizzes” section of the site.
You can use these results to determine the topics you need to study in more depth for your next quiz attempt.
You can also view and print all your certifications in the “My Quizzes” section of the site.
No. You can take all the quizzes, review your results, and view and print the certifications for free as part of your course enrollment fee.
In the future, we may allow you to order a higher-quality printed copy of the certificate for a separate fee.
A certification is not a “magic bullet” that will instantly get you job offers; instead, it is one of many factors that will improve your odds of winning job offers at investment banks and other finance firms.
Certifications are especially helpful if you’re coming from a non-finance background because you can show employers the certificates and then say, “Here are the questions and Excel exercises I had to complete to receive this certificate. You can see the exact material I had to learn in this course by following this link.” (We display a link to all the quiz questions directly on the certificate)
Unlike other training companies, we make the process as transparent as possible by publishing the exact questions you have to answer in order to receive the certification.
Certifications are also helpful in emerging and frontier markets because modeling and valuation are less standardized and employers value 3rd-party verification of your skills.
You can take the quizzes an unlimited number of times until you pass and receive the certification.
Your progress is automatically saved as you enter answer choices, and you can always come back to the quiz and resume your progress on it.
You can also save the quiz yourself and return later on when you’re ready to finish it.
They are intended to be challenging. Even if you’ve completed the courses and you’ve finished all the Excel exercises, it is unlikely that you’ll pass any quiz on your first attempt.
The Advanced Modeling quiz and industry-specific course quizzes are especially challenging, and will likely require many attempts to pass.
The questions and concepts covered in the quizzes require critical thinking, plus an ability to analyze unfamiliar scenarios and apply your skills to new topics.
You can click here to view PDFs of all the quizzes and get a sense of the difficulty level.
There are easier and more straightforward questions in some of the quizzes, but they are still intended to be challenging even if you are proficient in financial modeling.
No. We do not publish answer keys for the quizzes because doing so would defeat the purpose of awarding certifications in the first place.
If you had the answer key, you could simply go into the quiz and enter all the correct answers from that document without understanding anything yourself.
We do have practice quizzes available in several courses, and we offer answer keys and explanations of the questions on those quizzes.
More practice quizzes will be added to the site in the future (see question #9).
Feel free to contact us with the specific question(s) you’re unsure of and we can give an explanation or offer hints on the correct answer.
Again, we do NOT distribute full answer keys because doing so would defeat the purpose of the certifications – but we are happy to offer hints if you get stuck on certain questions.
Yes, there are practice quizzes in most of the courses on the site now.
It’s based on two things: 1) The number of students or professionals in your organization who sign up, and 2) The specific course(s) you purchase.
We offer two methods of signing up for group licenses:
- Let us know in advance how many members will sign up for and use the courses, and we will send you a single invoice that reflects a volume discount. Then, we’ll distribute account login information and instructions to everyone in your organization once you have submitted payment.
- If you cannot pay for the courses as an organization or you do not know the exact number of users in advance, we can create a coupon code for your organization that reflects a lower discount than the option above and which allows your members to sign up individually.
Option #1 gives you the best deal because we can offer a better rate when we know in advance how many users will sign up, but we’re open to either possibility.
We accept wire transfers, credit card payment, or PayPal.
We do NOT accept checks or money orders sent in the mail due to the higher administrative costs of processing these payments.
Simply send us each user’s name and email address, and then we will create all the accounts and send each user his/her login information and instructions to get started.
We’re happy to set up reference calls, but we need to know something about your group or organization and how you’re planning to use the courses first.
For example, you might let us know the name of your institution, the numbers of users that want to sign up, and the courses you’re interested in, as well as any specific questions you have.
If you let us know that information, we can set up reference calls with similar existing clients.
One option is to purchase course access for a smaller group of students or professionals for now, and then add more users later based on the feedback from that first group and how your budget changes over time.
Another option is to start out with one of the more basic courses, such as the Excel course or the Financial Modeling Fundamentals course, and then see what your users need next after completing that material.
Finally, organizations can pass the cost of the courses along to their members while still getting a discounted rate through Option #2 above (See Question #1 in this section for details).
Yes. You can check this yourself as the group administrator – just tell us which students are in your group, and we can set up your account such that you can see students’ completed lessons, quiz scores, and more.
After this is set up, you will be able to log into the site and check your students’ progress whenever you want.
Sure – please email us and tell us something about your group, your requirements, the number of users you have, and the courses you’re interested in and we can set this up.
Because in all likelihood, our courses are complementary rather than competitive with what your other provider already offers.
While in-person training can work for some students and professionals, one disadvantage is that once it ends the training is over and it’s difficult to get your questions answered or to practice building the models and reviewing the concepts.
Our courses, by contrast, are available on-demand 24/7 – just like Netflix or Hulu.
That means that your users can always get practice, look up concepts quickly, and get their questions answered day or night. They also receive instant access to new material, bonus case studies, and new modules we release.
Finally, we offer lifetime access to all the materials – it’s not time-limited and there’s no expiration date, unlike almost all other online courses.
As a result of these factors, many of our clients sign up for group licenses with us even if they have an existing in-person training provider already.
Coaching & Resume Editing
We work with a limited number of clients each month to improve their resumes/CVs and cover letters, and we provide 1-on-1 assistance with the entire recruiting, networking, and interview process.
To qualify, you must be: 1) A student with significant internship experience (e.g., at least 2 solid finance-related internships); 2) A current investment banker or other finance professional who’s seeking to move to another company or field in finance; or 3) A career changer at the MBA-level or above who wants to get into the finance industry.
We do NOT work with university students who do not yet have real work experience because our services would not be helpful for them.
After you sign up you will receive further instructions on how to proceed, including the documents and information we need from you. We will also schedule a time for our initial diagnostic call.
It is because they are significantly more comprehensive than other services, and because we focus on working with a smaller number of clients and doing more substantive work for them.
We take the time to understand your needs, and we ask you in-depth questions to make sure we have all the information we need to present your case in the best possible light.
You may or may not know that you possess certain strengths/advantages/experiences that are useful to interviewers, which is why we strongly favor a diagnostic call in the beginning of the process that allows us to get all the information we need from you.
And then you can leave the rest to us: We will help you present the most impressive points and achievements on your resume, in your cover letter, and in your pitch.
In addition to that, we also revamp your “story” so that it is more coherent and effective, and we help to point out any self-doubt or self-sabotaging beliefs that may be working against you – and then show you how to overcome these beliefs to achieve the results you desire.
We also suggest the best direction and role for your career – if, for example, we think you fit in better with trading than investment banking, or that you’d fit in better at a boutique rather than a bulge bracket bank, we will let you know.
In contrast to all the points above, most other services tend to use a “one size fits all” method where they aim for as many clients as possible and do not take the time to understand each one or provide in-depth feedback.
We take the opposite approach and choose to work with a smaller number of clients and offer more comprehensive services.
The other difference is that we provide more services within each package we offer: for example, a diagnostic phone call, a coaching call, or/and a customized Action Plan depending on the package you sign up for. These services are one-of-a-kind because they are tailored directly to your needs.
Because we work with you intensively 1-on-1 and spend a significant amount of time personally editing your documents and guiding you in the recruiting process.
If you sign up and we mutually decide that you would not benefit from the services, we will refund your money immediately before we begin to work with you.
Once we have accepted payment and we have decided to proceed with the work, however, there will be no refunds granted.
Nicole Lee leads our efforts and delivers these resume editing and coaching services.
She has worked in equity research, investment banking, institutional sales, and capital markets at bulge bracket banks.
Brian oversees the process and reviews documents as well to ensure consistency.
He generally does not offer 1-on-1 consulting due to time constraints. When he does offer consulting, he only makes it available for buy-side recruiting (e.g., investment banking to private equity and hedge funds) and/or advanced technical interviews.
You’re free to ask any questions you want within the service period (click here to see the details for each package). It takes us 1-2 business days to respond, depending on the package you signed up for.
We do not strictly define exactly what you can or can’t ask for help with, but here are a few examples to illustrate what is included with the services, and what is not included with the services:
We Can Help With:
- Tips on how to tweak your “story” and position yourself in interviews.
- Tips on how to find names and contact information and execute your networking strategy.
- Feedback on responses to specific interview questions and/or networking strategies.
- Questions on how best to present experience on your resume/CV.
- How to handle tricky situations such as *not* receiving a return offer, being fired or let go, handling multiple offers, reneging on an offer, not getting along with your colleagues, or applying to multiple roles within the same bank.
We Cannot Help With:
- Entire case studies, modeling tests, or work projects. It’s beyond the scope of these services, and it is unethical for us to do the actual work for you.
- Additional drafts or versions of your resume/CV, or help for family members and friends and their resumes/CVs. We provide one draft of your resume/CV with multiple rounds of edits on that one draft, but no more than that.
- Meeting up in-person and/or flying to meet you to give you advice.
- Additional coaching or diagnostic calls beyond what is included in the package you sign up for.
- Providing information from other candidates or from the interviews they have been through. You are protected by confidentiality once you sign up for these services, and we never share other clients’ information.
- Last-minute requests, such as asking us to edit a new draft of your resume on a Friday night and return it to you on Saturday morning, or asking to speak on the phone immediately whenever a question comes up.
These requests are impossible for us to handle because our team works in different time zones around the world, and it is not possible to provide thoughtful responses on an extremely short time frame.
We do have an affiliate program, but it is currently closed to new sign-ups.
When it re-opens, we will post a notice about it here and describe the terms (commission rates, payment period, and so on).
We appreciate the sentiment, but we are currently re-tooling the program and we do not want to give you inconsistent information while it’s “under renovation.”
Paying commissions like this requires extra paperwork and tax filings in the US, and it is not economically viable unless you sell a significant volume of courses on an ongoing basis each month.
We are not currently hiring for dedicated sales rep roles, but we will post a notice here if anything changes.