The Secret To The World Financial Modelling Championships Is In The Numbers

It was a tweet which led Alex Gordon to a global modelling competition and a cheque for $25,000.

The manager with PwC’s Corporate Finance Team in Wellington, New Zealand, follows Bill Jelen, seen world-wide as Mr Excel, who in 2012 tweeted about Modeloff, the first annual Financial Modelling World Championships.

Gordon decided to enter and on December 2, 2012, he won the $25,000 first prize.

At his day job at PwC he’s involved with a range of projects including driving business modelling in New Zealand and providing advice on public private partnership procurement.

Alex Gordon

“A financial model is a great way to really understand a business issue – be it for business planning, capital raising or to support a transaction,” he says.

“Modelling can give you detailed insight into the key value drivers and how the various components of a business interact.”

Competitive modelling is a social event.

“The best part of the competition was getting to meet interesting people from all over the world who shared a passion for Excel and financial modelling,” he says.

“The pressure of the finals gets pretty intense. All the finalists are modelling in the one room together and have an incredibly tight timeframe to get through the case studies.”

The competition works this way:

  • The first online round is held simultaneously around the world at 8am on October 25 (New York Time).
  • The top performers from this round make it through to a second online round, on November 8.
  • The online rounds are scored primarily based on multi-choice questions that are answered based on the models built.
  • The finalists from that round get flown to New York to compete in the live finals on December 6-7.

Gordon’s secret to winning is practice and lots of it.

“For those looking to compete this year, I think the best way you can prepare is by going through questions from prior years that have been put up at,” he says.

“At the finals, you also need to keep a clear head and manage your time well.”

Hopefuls got together at the Hotel CBD in Sydney this week to discuss tactics for the world competition. Image: Sarah Bullen.

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