Financial modeling is defined as the task of building abstract representation (a model) of a real world financial situation by Wikipedia. Investopedia defines it as the process by which a firm constructs a financial representation of some, or all, aspects of the firm or given security.
Despite the vast advancements in fintech and analytics software, most businesses still prefer using Microsoft Excel for creating their models. Developing in Excel, passing this work on to someone else will be much easier because literally everybody is quite familiar with the software. Excel is also very flexible as it doubles as a calculator, database and reporting tool; while costing a fraction of the specialized software. Investment firms, banks, insurers, real estate companies all use Excel as their defacto platform for developing models.
Sometimes financial models are developed by an analyst for own usage. But many times, the model is required to be used by people from different locations. Ensuring uninterrupted access to the most accurate and up-to-date models becomes paramount. Therefore transforming those models into traditional applications that is accessible from a single source is very important. Turning them into web-based applications solves the problem. But the more complex the model gets, the harder it becomes to turn it into an application. Programming the entire financial model can be a daunting task even for the most experienced development teams.
SpreadsheetWEB comes to the rescue. It can transform even the most complex financial models into web applications with little or no programming effort. Access to those applications can restricted to registered users via entering username and password. It offers ability to store user entered data to prevent the need to reenter the same data next time. It can scale to handle hundreds of users working on the model at the same time. Each user can execute the model and work on their data independently without interfering with other users already using the same model. Administrators can secure the model and prevent end users accessing the underlying Excel file and people seeing the formulas in the model. This provides complete security of the intellectual property build into those models while allowing people execute them.
Below is an example of a ‘Buy or Rent’ calculator created in Excel.
The model evaluates the financial gains from purchasing a real estate versus renting for a period of 10 years. It takes into account various factors like sales price, interest rate, loan duration, PMI, property taxes, etc. in calculating wealth accumulation from purchasing. It compares it with financial gains of investing that money into a 10 year CD and renting instead. The model compares the upfront costs of purchasing with annual rental costs. It also creates a wealth accumulation chart for purchasing versus renting.
This is a fairly standard financial model that anyone thinking of purchasing a real estate can use. Hence a web based distribution of this model is clearly more advantageous than delivering it in Excel format.
Let’s see what sets a web tool apart from an old school desktop application. We can choose to make this application private and share it only with certain users. Logging in with their details, users can securely access this tool.
Once logged in, we can interact with the tool by entering our information. The web application acts very much like the Excel workbook. However, data can’t be changed or viewed by the end users.
User can then switch to the Output tab and see if buying or renting is more reasonable for their scenario.
One of the most important advantages of using SpreadsheetWEB for building web-based financial models is that formulas can still be updated in Excel. Because SpreadsheetWEB does not convert the financial model into a proprietary programming language, administrators can still adjust the formulas or data in Excel to maintain their model. Since the user data and financial model are decoupled in SpreadsheetWEB, previously saved user scenarios will still work after each model change. This also allows users to run what-if scenarios to validate different versions of the model.
Excel is the go-to platform for many businesses when it comes to developing mathematical models. Its reliability, ease of use and flexibility make designing such tools far easier to create as a workbook than using specialized software. However, this too comes with several limitations such as versioning and scalability. SpreadsheetWEB offers a solution that utilizes the Excel expertise of companies and allow them to turn their knowledge base into web tools without any coding.