My FinMo 2019
Have you taken part in this year’s Financial Modeling Case Competition? I’ve enjoyed it a lot and would like to share my experience. Even if you didn’t take part, this article could still be useful to you as long as you are interested in financial modeling. I have published my M&A financial model submitted for the competition at the end of the article.
My followers know that I am a professional financial modeler and a business owner/manager, running a team of experienced finance professionals at AG Capital and CFOTemplates.com. You also know that I’m a fan of the competitive side of financial modeling and I’ve been taking part in ModelOff financial modeling world championships since 2013. A less known fact is that my interest has encouraged other analysts from Latvia to take part. We’ve had the 3rd largest number of ModelOff participants among European countries in 2017.
I’ve had great results at ModelOff, qualifying twice for the finals and finishing 5th in the New York finals in 2017. After ModelOff introduced the new Hall of Fame rules, I now have the last chance to become the financial modeling world champion. After appearing in the ModelOff finals next time, I will be sent to the Hall of Fame and won’t be able to compete anymore. BTW, my next article will be about my ModelOff experience this year – stay tuned.
That’s why I saw Financial Modeling Case Competition (FinMo) as a great option to continue doing competitive financial modeling even after eventually “retiring” to ModelOff’s hall of fame. FinMo has a similar competition name, but there are more differences than similarities between the two competitions.
So Here’s How It Went for Me at This Year’s FinMo
The idea behind the competition is simple. On a Saturday day in November, all the participants received case materials. We all had to advise an established company (this year it was Nestle) on an acquisition of a fictional target company by creating a financial model for the M&A deal, a powerpoint pitch and a video presentation of the key recommendations. 1 full week + an extra weekend were given to complete the task. Then the submissions of the participants were evaluated by a panel of judges and the winners were selected.
I have to admit that the format of the competition does not fit my strengths. I’ve been always good at time-stressed tests and ModelOff format perfectly suits me. However, there was no such advantage at FinMo. Most of my previous experience is with corporate FP&A modeling, not with M&A modeling, so it took me some extra time just to plan out my actions and to set up the model. I think the organizers mentioned 16 hours to complete the submission, but it definitely took me more.
Finally, November is the busiest time of the year for me and for CFOTemplates.com. Most of our clients use our services to create their budgets and do other financial models to support next year’s planning at this time of the year. Good performance at FinMo could definitely work towards my personal brand and our global marketing. However, when your clients need you to solve their real-life problems ASAP, it’s probably not the best idea to model a virtual acquisition of “Mandelzar cookies”.
I’ve managed to create a very nice financial model over the first couple of days. Then I had to take a break before completing the submission over the next weekend. I’m usually very sceptical about competitions where jury decides that winners. In this case I have to admit that the marks were really reflecting the amount of time I’ve spent on each part of the submission. The judges praised my financial model (except for minor formatting issues) but I probably got lower marks on the PowerPoint and the video submission. Actually, they both were done very much in a hurry last day before the deadline. Having ModelOff Round 1 exactly one day before the submission deadline for FinMo didn’t help either. My overall score was 76 out of 100 which was high enough but not sufficient to bring me to the Top 20.
Actually, I was expecting a less intensive competition from the professionals, as the competition is very time consuming. When you have your daily job, wife, kids, etc., finding the 16 hours could be tough. And I got an impression that getting it to the top probably requires more hours to make the materials really stand out of the crowd. That’s probably the reason why many students can make it to the very top. As opposed to ModelOff, where experience matters a lot, FinMo requires both experience and availability of time to spend on preparation of the materials. So, I suppose that students probably might have more time on average to spend on their submission. They might also have more motivation.
Some Recommendations for the Next Years
Here are my key takeaways from this year’s FinMo competition. I plan to take part in FinMo in the future years as well, so I write these takeaways mostly for myself reading them next year. However, I don’t mind to share these tips with all my readers.
So, next year I…
- Will prepare for the topic early on. It seems that every year FinMo specializes on another topic, so I will be waiting for my best chances when a case on corporate FP&A will be chosen.
- Will review FMVA program materials on the topic a couple of days BEFORE the competition starts to save time. (Not during the competition). FMVA materials actually helped a lot, especially as my main experience was with other segments of financial modelling.
- Will plan my preparation for ModelOff in such a way that it does not interfere with the week of FinMo.
- Will try to free my real-work schedule for the week of FinMo. Will postpone or delegate client projects as possible.
- If I see that I can’t realistically free time for the week, I will rather skip the competition. That would be better than trying to make a sub-standard submission within a limited time. This year’s experience shows that it won’t bring even a Top20 result.
Finally, as promised, here are my submissions: the financial model, the pitch deck and the video presentation (screencast).
Case Financial Model Case PPT Presentation
If you are interested in financial modeling – follow me on LinkedIn or send me an invitation to connect! I keep posting interesting materials on financial modeling.
Please, share your experience in the comments! It would be very interesting if someone from the Top 20 could post their score. Everyone else is curious how much did we miss it till the very top!