How Long Does it Take to Learn Financial Modelling?

06 February 2024
Financial modelling is a crucial skill in the world of finance and business. It involves creating mathematical representations of a company's financial performance and predicting future outcomes. From investment decisions to budget planning, financial modelling plays a vital role in various domains.
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The answer is it depends. The time required depends on several factors, including:

  • Prior knowledge
  • Learning resources
  • Practice
  • The complexity of the models.
The journey of learning financial modelling can be difficult if not handled right.

Luckily, you've come to the right place!

We are experts at breaking down the technical aspects of financial modelling. So here's a breakdown of what to expect when learning about financial modelling.

The Foundation: Understanding the Components of Financial Modelling

First, it's essential to grasp its significance and the components involved. There are four main points to take home:

  • Historical Data Analysis: Examining past financial data is the starting point. This consists of understanding income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
  • Assumptions and Projections: Financial models often involve making assumptions about future variables. Things like revenue growth, expenses, and market trends.
  • Building Formulas and Equations: Creating formulas to calculate various metrics. Things like net present value (NPV), and internal rate of return (IRR).
  • Scenario Analysis: Developing models to test different scenarios, aiding decision-making under various conditions.

Factors Affecting Learning Time

The time required to learn financial modelling can vary from person to person. Here are the key factors influencing the learning journey:

Prior Knowledge

If you have a background in accounting, you will find it much easier to grasp financial concepts. And if you're reading this right now, you likely know a thing or two already.

More straightforward concepts and basic Excel skills need less time to master financial modelling.

A strong foundation in accounting, finance, or mathematics can shorten the learning process. Individuals with prior exposure to financial statements will have a head start.

Learning Resources

Online training courses and video tutorials are great learning tools. Especially those new to financial modelling.

The availability of quality learning resources will impact the learning duration. Comprehensive resources that cover knowledge and application can speed up the learning curve.

Practice and Application

Like any skill, practice is essential in mastering financial modelling. Hands-on exercises, building models, and experimenting with different scenarios speed up the process.

Consistent practice not only reinforces theoretical concepts but also enhances problem-solving skills. You know what they say: there's no better teacher than life.

Complexity of Models

Analysing the financials of one business is quicker than a conglomerate with many subsidiaries.

The complexity of the models you're working with plays a pivotal role. Creating basic models to understand concepts might take a shorter time. But dealing with intricate models with plenty of variables and interdependencies is time-consuming.

Key Stages of Learning Financial Modelling

Learning financial modelling is a step-by-step process. It involves acquiring both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

We've broken down common time scales for learning financial modelling. Please note that this is only a rough guideline and will vary from person to person and the type of modelling you require.

Here are the key stages involved in becoming proficient in financial modelling:

1. Foundation Knowledge (1-2 weeks)

The journey begins with understanding the foundational concepts of finance. You'll also learn Excel, a powerful tool used in financial modelling. This stage takes around 1 to 2 weeks of focused study. Key areas to cover include:

  • Basic finance terminology. Understand terms like revenue, expenses, profit, and cash flow.
  • Time value of money. Understand concepts such as present value, future value, and discounting.
  • Excel skills. Learn how to navigate Excel, create formulas, use functions, and format cells.

2. Basic Financial Modelling (2-4 weeks)

Once you have a solid grasp of the foundations, you can progress to basic financial modelling. This stage usually takes around 2 to 4 weeks to complete. Here, you'll focus on:

  • Building simple models. Create basic financial models like calculating loan payments, projecting sales growth, and evaluating investment returns.
  • Sensitivity analysis. Learn how to assess the impact of changing variables on your model's outcomes.
  • Charting and presentation. Explore how to create visually appealing charts and graphs to present your findings.

3. Intermediate Financial Modelling (2-3 months)

Moving on to intermediate financial modelling, this stage is a more in-depth exploration of complex scenarios and model-building techniques. It generally takes around 2 to 3 months to master. Key aspects to cover include:

  • Advanced Excel functions. Delve into more complex Excel functions like VLOOKUP, INDEX-MATCH, and OFFSET.
  • Scenario analysis. Learn how to create many scenarios to assess different outcomes based on varying assumptions.
  • Financial statement modelling. Understand how to build integrated income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.

4. Advanced Financial Modelling (3-6 months)

The advanced stage of learning financial modelling requires a deeper understanding. Expect to learn intricate financial concepts and model optimization. This stage can take around 3 to 6 months to complete. Focus on:

  • Complex financial scenarios. Tackle intricate financial models involving mergers and acquisitions, project finance, and valuation.
  • Monte Carlo simulation. Explore how to incorporate probabilistic analysis into your models to account for uncertainty.
  • Model auditing and error-checking. Master the techniques to ensure the accuracy and reliability of your models.

5. Practical Application and Mastery (Ongoing)

Becoming a proficient financial modeller is not only theoretical knowledge. Practical application is key.

Even after the advanced stage, ongoing practice is crucial for mastering financial modelling.

Engaging in real-world projects, internships, or job roles will also help. This stage is continuous and contributes to refining your expertise over time.

What Else Should You Know About Financial Modelling?

The time it takes to learn financial modelling varies based on individual factors. Prior knowledge, learning resources, practice, and the complexity of the models all matter.

While some might grasp the basics in a matter of weeks, mastering financial modelling can take several months to a year or more.

Would you like to speed up the process? Here's a list of our most highly-rated Financial Modelling courses led by experts in the field.


Do you need CFA for Financial Modelling?

Having a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is not necessary. But can be helpful. It provides a strong foundation in finance and investment principles. Developing skills in Excel, accounting, and valuation techniques are key. Practical experience and understanding of business contexts will benefit your modelling abilities.
Eager to learn more about financial modelling? Click below to find out more about Redcliffe Training’s Financial Modelling Courses:

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