When providing financial modelling services to corporate clients, it is important to not just understand the technical requirements of the model build, but also understand the cosmetic outputs of the model.
Such outputs are often known as the marketable reports generated by the model.
There are a number of quick and easy ways to improve the cosmetic and aesthetic look of a financial model. Most of these suggestions can be implemented without much fuss. Other items can be time consuming and tedious.
Cover sheet and Table of Contents
A separate cover sheet and/or table of contents page will significantly improve the presentation of the financial model. It will improve the model useability with the addition of hyperlinks to improve a user’s ability to navigate around the model.
The cover sheet should also include the brief description of the model, as well as the relevant corporate logos relating to the company, its subsidiaries and products (if relevant).
Consistent title, font & spacing
Adhering to uniform title font, sizes and spacing across the entire workbook will result in a more professionally looking and presentable financial model to corporate executives. Further, the removal of gridlines will also enhance the readability of financial information in the model.
Defined cell names and drop-down boxes
Defining the cell name of each company’s subsidiary, business unit, asset or product in the assumptions area of the model, will prevent inconsistent name referencing or typos. It will enable seamless name revisions or changes to respective line items at a later date if required.
Not dissimilar to defined cell names, a drop-down box will also restrict the input of specific information into a model.
Graphing and dashboard features
Along with the customised reports, these features need to look sharp, and help to fully market your client’s service or product needs. Obviously the graphs must be uniform in format and appearance, with strict use of your client’s corporate colours in all the graphs.
Similarly the dashboards must be identical to the reports and graphs, in terms of font type, size and colours.
The real skill of a financial modeller is often tested in the concluding stages of a model build for a client. The modeller must maintain their strong attention to detail; even after all the hard work of building the model to a final version. The innocuous elements to a model’s graph and dashboards should not be overlooked, or completed in a careless or half-hearted manner.
Often to the client, these elements represent the most important ancillary features of executing and delivering a best practice and marketable financial model.
This might sound like an obvious comment, but it is vital all the worksheets in a financial model can be readily printed out, if one needs to present it to executive management for an important meeting or presentation. Understandably a professional financial model must appear presentable. It cannot be missing rows or columns of information.
Always ensure applicable corporate logos, page numbers and worksheet titles appear clearly.
The print formatting of some reports in the model might be an iterative exercise, but remember the marketability of customised reports stemming from a financial model, will be often viewed by a client as the real value-add to their business. Their appreciation of the technical sophistication of a financial model might be overlooked, as opposed to a model built for executive management such as a strategic plan and valuation.
The marketable conclusion
The marketable appearance of a financial model and its reports to a client company is often, one feature of a model that model developers overlook or fail to see its value – in the eyes of a client. Today, aspects like a cover sheet and table of contents, consistent fonts and spacing, and the integration of cell names and drop-down boxes, are ubiquitous amongst seasoned and talented financial modellers.
However in the eyes of these corporate clients, it is the aesthetic and print-friendly appearance of graphs, reports and dashboards, and not the sophisticated mechanics of a financial model, which is often most valued.