Choosing the Best Financial Modeling Equipment Setup
With just 4 months left until Round 1 of ModelOff Financial Modeling World Championships, this is the right time to check your financial modeling equipment setup and upgrade if necessary. Simple calculations show that if the right equipment can save you just 5% of the total competition time, this transforms to as much as 9 minutes per 3 hour round. This could make a difference between making it to the finals or not.
In R2 2016 I missed just about the 9 minutes to finalize my model for the “Maximize the Benefit” case. I have scored just about 50% of the total points available and then ran out of time. The case was designed in such a way that completing the model would immediately allow to answer a bunch of questions worth at least another 30% of the total points available. I have still qualified to the finals that year, but that was due to strong performance in other cases and, of course, some luck.
In my opinion these are the items that can boost your performance both in competition modeling and, what’s more important, in real-life work!
2 years ago I have bought an ergonomic Microsoft Edge 4000 keyboard. I made a thorough review of different options available on the market. I have reviewed several gaming keyboards. They all look very impressive and would probably make some psychological impact on the competitors in the finals. However, after giving it a deeper thought, I understood that these keyboards are more suited for gaming rather than for financial modeling. I don’t need fancy lights, I don’t need an emphasis on AWSD keys, I need some more functional keys to make the best use of shortcuts. Therefore I have decided to go for the business keyboard and my choice was MS Edge 4000.
The first 2 months were a total disaster. I’ve never had a keyboard with split keys before. My productivity fell by as much as 25%. The most frequently used button on this keyboard was the Backspace 😊. But then a miracle happened.
All of a sudden, my fingers got used to MS Edge 4000 and the typing speed just skyrocketed. I believe I am now typing some 5%-10% faster than ever before. And yes, I have removed the F1 key – see the photo 😊
I’ve never thought that a good mouse could make such a huge impact. Again, after a thorough review I have made a choice for Logitech MX Master. It was quite strange to buy a mouse that is substantially more expensive than the upmarket keyboard, but it is worth every penny.
When modeling (or just working) on a high speed, it is important to spend as little time for your right hand in transition between the keyboards and the mouse. While the majority of these transitions in Excel could be (and should be!) avoided with the right use of keyboard shortcuts, still you have to switch once in a while.
Logitech MX Master is larger than most of the cheaper mouse. To grasp its size, I have placed it on the picture next to my Texas Instruments BA II Plus calculator.
It fills the whole area below the palm, so your hand rests firmly on top of the mouse. There is no stress inside the hand. The mouse is very ergonomic as well. As a result, as soon as your hand drops on top of the mouse, your fingers are ready to move it and press the buttons immediately.
However, the main part of the magic by MX Master is its scrolling wheel. Scroll it once, and it keeps scrolling for some 15-20 seconds! With one scroll you can get from row 1 to row 15000+ in Excel! You can scroll up to 1000 rows under a second. It is very very convenient to navigate large datasets and large vertical models. This saves you A LOT of time and efforts.
I am a very old-school person in terms of reading. I have a library at home filled with thousands of paper books. Reading paper rather than screen is my preference, so when it comes to ModelOff cases, or translating any other written instructions to financial models, I’d prefer to have these instructions printed. And it is such a great feeling when you strikethrough a section that has just been completed! So, having a printer attached to your laptop is important.
Speed is important, as you don’t want to spend valuable time waiting for the printer to complete its print job. Ideally you connect it through wi-fi so that you minimize the number of cords on your table. Our team of 6 people at CFOTemplates.com doesn’t print too much, so a Samsung C410 is OK for us. Still, this is probably the first thing that deserves an upgrade on this list.
There is another argument towards printing the instructions when you do competition modeling. Sometimes you need to take a restroom break during a ModelOff online round. Then you can still continue reading the instructions and plan your model during the break and not lose time. This tip doesn’t work during the finals, though.
A large monitor seems to be a must for efficient financial modeling. 24’’-27’’ are probably the most comfortable sizes. Pretty much anything above 27 inches is too large for viewing up close, especially if you are working with small numbers and cells in Excel. I personally use a 24’’ Dell monitor.
If you are serious about qualifying to ModelOff finals, there is another thing you need to take into account. During the finals you set up your own equipment the way you need. It is a must to bring your own laptop and peripherals that you are most comfortable with. Well, if you don’t bring your laptop, the organizers would probably equip you with something, but I have never seen a finalist coming to work on an unfamiliar computer.
As most of the finalists don’t live in NewYork/London where the finals take place, they just buy the required equipment in nearby stores. So, if you are used to working on a high-quality 27’’ monitor on a daily basis, it would just be more expensive to buy a monitor of the same size.
What equipment do you use? Please, share your experience in comments! I would appreciate your tips and ideas on even better equipment setup.
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