• 049 07/18/2016 Texas A&M University-Commerce Feedback

    In early 2016 a professor of finance at Texas A&M University-Commerce used ASimpleModel.com to introduce 120 graduate students to financial modeling. At the conclusion of the class he required each student to write a review of the website. Positive or negative, it did not matter, students were free to respond openly.

    The professor let me know he intended to do this and offered to share the results. After a few weeks I received a 41 page document containing all of the student’s responses (with names removed per university policy). I was delighted to see that it was overwhelmingly positive.

    What follows are excerpts from the reviews received. Each quote, separated by ellipses, comes from a different student:

    [ASimpleModel] gave me a new perspective on financial models.  Now, I don't cringe when I hear "finances" because I have a better understanding.  It is no longer intimidating! 

    I loved the fact that I could take the quiz multiple times until I got a perfect score.  I thought that having the option of taking the quiz without worrying about my grade (because I know that I can take it again) was extremely beneficial for me.  For, it took the pressure off; which gave me the ability to freely grasp the material without worrying about getting the wrong answer, and affecting my grade.  I think that if you really want to grasp the material, taking the quiz with this type of format is beneficial and a fun way to learn.

    The course content was organized, provided a large volume of information in a short period of time, and the instruction was easy to understand. The instruction followed a progression through each section of the financial statement until the model was completely constructed. Having had several Accounting courses, initially it seemed odd viewing an entire model in one Excel spreadsheet. It seemed like too much information in one place or on one page and it made me a little uncomfortable, but by the end of the 2nd section I found this to be the most efficient manner that I’ve ever been taught Accounting.

    Previously, I was taught, possibly based on how courses are structured, to complete and present each worksheet for a financial document separately. This is probably due to learning each section separately in a course, the need to submit sections independently for grading, then having to build on the last area learned in order to move into the next area you’re about learn. This is good but I believe a financial model would be a better way of learning. It might present a bit of overload for some students but probably not the majority. I wish I’d been exposed to this method 2 years ago.

    I found this website extremely easy to use and would definitely recommend using it again. … I liked the way the material from the videos was directly related to the questions that were in the following quiz. I also liked how you could see what you got right on the quiz and what you got wrong, which allowed me to focus more on what I was missing and correct myself and learn the correct answer for that particular question. Another thing I liked was that the videos were of reasonable length, which helps the person watching stay focused [in contrast to] a very long video that is drawn out but doesn't cover any more information. Overall, I thought using this website for an assignment was very effective and would recommend using it again.

    The gentleman narrating throughout the video seemed to know a lot about the subject.  I like how he simplified the cash flow part of the model.  I really enjoyed this activity. 

    What a great way to end the semester.  While other courses seem to be piling on the last minute work, group projects, etc, this was a nice distraction from that.  I liked the format of the site.  It was very easy to navigate through the sections and the fact that you could take the quiz more than once took the pressure off having to nail it the first time.  The "one and done" concept that most sites offer, promotes procrastination as the student rarely feels ready to take the quiz.  Instead, I was able to take the quiz, see how I did, then go back to the videos to learn what I missed.  This made for an enjoyable learning experience. 

    The ASimpleModel project / quiz was probably one of my most favorite parts of the class. It connected the dots, and the instructor made it relatable and engaging. I've taken several accounting courses, and this put it in a high-level, simple perspective. I wish I knew of this site during my accounting courses.

    The videos were funny and engaging, which made it easy to sit through the full length. The content of the quizzes was directly from the video, so as long as you watch the video, the quizzes should be no problem.

    This was an incredible opportunity for ASimpleModel.com. It was our first pilot program with a university, and the interaction with the professor and the teaching assistant was invaluable. This summer, based on their feedback, we have been working to streamline the process of uploading students to the platform and add new functionality. 

    We intend to continue providing this service free of charge for professors interested in using it as a classroom aid. If you are affiliated with a university and would like to learn more about this process please reach out through the contact page. 


  • 048 05/10/2016
    Q: "I have a case study interview next Monday; I will be asked to calculate the cash flows necessary to meet a certain IRR hurdle rate. Can you please provide me with instructions as to how to do so – cant seem to find a succinct answer online!"

    A: The math is fortunately pretty straightforward for this calculation. I believe what throws people off is that an IRR is often explained as the rate that makes the net present value of all cash flows equal to zero. On account of this definition people think about working backwards from the cash flows received. But it can also be thought of as the annualized effective compounded return rate. This language makes it easier to think about growing an investment (cash outflow) by an annual rate of return to achieve an outcome. 

    In other words, if you are provided an IRR of 20% and asked to determine the proceeds achieved in year 5, the result is simple: Your investment will grow by 20% for 5 years.

    (1 + 20%)(1 + 20%)(1 + 20%)(1 + 20%)(1 + 20%)


    (1 + 20%)^5

    This works out to 2.49. So you can take the dollars invested, and multiply by 2.49 to determine the proceeds required to achieve an IRR of 20% over 5 years.

    Assuming you invested X dollars, the proceeds required to achieve an IRR of 20% over 5 years is as follows: 

    X*(1 + 20%)^5

    Please see video for additional detail:

    In Excel, you can also use the =YEARFRAC() function to automatically adjust this calculation for different dates. The formula is as follows:

    =X*(1 + IRR)^YEARFRAC(date1,date2)

    Where X is the investment made, IRR is the desired IRR, "date1" is the investment date and "date2" is the exit date.

    Note: Keep in mind all of this is relevant when you assume that all proceeds are realized in the exit year. It is most relevant to an LBO scenario assuming no dividends. 

    This video also includes a calculation to permit showing multiple IRRs along the same row (another question I receive frequently). This only works if you have one cash outflow (the investment) and one cash inflow (all proceeds received in the same period). 

    I will upload the calculation mentioned in the video momentarily.

    The Excel template referenced in the video is available HERE.

  • 047 05/10/2016
    I have received this question via email a few times, so I thought it might be helpful to write a short post on this topic. To take an average and exclude all zeros in a selection use the following formula:


    Where "range" in the formula above represents the range of cells selected for the calculation. As an example, if you were selecting cells A1, A2, A3 and A4, the formula would appear as follows: =AVERAGEIF(A1:A4,"<>0")

    I have included a short video should it be helpful:



Models are:
A) really boring
B) pretty sweet
C) super important
D) somewhat easy
E) kind of hard
F) fun
G) all of the above



*Answers a, b, c, d, e, f and g are all correct.