Financial modeling is a process in which a company's or specific project's financial performance is evaluated by considering relevant factors and assumptions about risk and growth. Those who build financial models create concise overviews of the variables involved in a financial forecast. When comparing types of financial modeling training, there are many factors to consider. Everyone learns differently, and choosing the right kind of training is critical to your experience.

Keep reading to learn more about the different formats of financial modeling training, how they compare, and how to determine which is best for you.

What is Financial Modeling?

Financial modeling is the process of evaluating a company’s past performance to predict the likelihood of various financial outcomes. Those who create financial models rely on financial forecasts to do so. The assumptions in a forecast are played out using the organization’s financial statements to predict how various statements may look in the future. Since these models are based on financial statements, they are typically generated monthly, quarterly, or yearly. It’s common for financial models to be constructed using manual data entry in an Excel spreadsheet. 

Financial modeling is a valuable tool for estimating how a business or a specific project will perform based on relevant factors, as well as risk assumptions and growth, then evaluating their impact. This process helps to present a concise understanding of the variables used to make financial forecasts. Those who create financial models either build them from scratch or work with existing models, making changes based on newer data that’s become available since its creation. Because financial situations are complex and can change quickly and rapidly, financial modeling helps to create a detailed understanding of the different components.

Read more about what financial modeling is and why you should learn it

What Can You Do with Financial Modeling?

Without well-executed financial modeling, any business operation would be analogous to a ship floating aimlessly in the sea with no navigation system. Although one could use gut instinct to steer the ship in the correct direction, there would be no guarantee that this course would be accurate. The more sound a financial model is, the less unnecessary risk a business will likely encounter. And the less likely it will be to drift aimlessly. 

Financial modeling has numerous applications across industries. Strong financial models are the backbone of many businesses and are a critical component to help them continue to grow and mitigate risk. Financial models provide a way to perform a detailed analysis of all possible financial outcomes of a business decision. These models seek to avoid loss as well as increase profits.

Financial modeling is a powerful tool for a range of financial analysis tasks. It can help an organization budget for the future and analyze the company’s performance against goals and targets. It also can be used for business valuation. Financial models allow individuals to compare one company’s performance against its competitors. It is often used to analyze financial statements, ratios, and capital structure, as well as to estimate financial metrics for new projects. Not only are these models imperative for solving problems, but they are used to make decisions about future outcomes. Some of the many decisions financial models can help with are estimating a company’s projected growth, organizing its budget, choosing investments, deciding between acquisition or merger, and deciding which projects should be prioritized.

Training Formats for Financial Modeling

If you’re setting out to learn financial modeling, you may be wondering which training format is best for you. In-person coursework is an interactive learning format in which students meet with an expert instructor in the classroom environment. Live online study is also available, allowing participants to connect in real-time with an instructor and do so from the comfort of their own home or office space. Additionally, self-paced financial modeling content such as videos and online tutorials are also offered, which provide a way to get started learning to create financial models based on pre-recorded content. 

In-Person Financial Modeling Training

In-person financial modeling training is an excellent option for learners who thrive in the traditional classroom environment. This engaging, interactive way to study allows participants to connect with an expert instructor sharing their insights and industry experience as they teach. It is also a great way to network with other learners, a benefit that is likely to extend beyond the classroom. In addition, classrooms are equipped with the most up-to-date software, which can eliminate the stress of loading apps and programs on your home device. In-person study does require commuting to and from campus for regularly scheduled class meetings, which is an essential consideration for those who need to balance learning financial modeling with other commitments. It may require taking off work to attend class and also may add additional costs to study for commuting and parking.

Many top educational providers currently offer in-person financial modeling classes. Noble Desktop’s Financial Modeling Bootcamp is an intensive three-day course. Participants receive expert instruction on finance and accounting fundamental concepts and also work to create a comprehensive discounted cash flow (DCF) model using Microsoft Excel. Wall Street Prep offers intermediate coursework. Their Financial Modeling Bootcamp is a three-day course in which participants receive instructions on using Excel to create financial models in different industries. For those who already have a background working with finance but want to take their skills to the next level, NYC Career Centers offers Advanced Excel for Financial Modeling. This one-day course covers advanced topics, such as techniques to improve workflow, database functions for finance, and sensitivity analysis. 

Live Online Financial Modeling Training

Live online financial modeling training is an excellent option for those who value real-time feedback but want the flexibility of studying remotely. This learning option provides students access to a live instructor, which means they can ask questions as they arise and receive guidance on their coursework. Live online study provides many of the same perks as in-person studies, such as small class sizes, industry-relevant instruction, and training with tools and software such as Microsoft Excel, which is essential for pursuing a career in financial modeling. 

One important consideration with live online study is that it still requires you to meet for regularly scheduled classes. This may be difficult for those working full-time or balancing studies with family commitments. It may also require taking off work to attend financial modeling courses. 

If live online financial modeling classes sound like a good option to you, there are a variety of excellent courses currently listed by top providers. Noble Desktop’s Financial Modeling Bootcamp spans 18 hours and provides participants with training in both finance and accounting. Participants in this hands-on course work with Excel to create a comprehensive discount cash flow (DCF) model. All participants receive training from an expert instructor and have the option of retaking the course for up to one year for free. Noble also offers Advanced Excel & Financial Modeling Intensive. This four-day program provides hands-on instruction on topics such as corporate finance, financial modeling, and financial accounting.

If you’re new to financial modeling, you may consider enrolling in NYC Career Centers Financial Analyst Training Program. This rigorous, five-day bootcamp prepares participants to become Financial Analysts. All students receive training in Excel fundamentals, such as working with charts, formulas, and formatting. Then, learners progress to more advanced Excel topics like LOOKUP functions and PivotTables. The third part of this course covers financial modeling concepts and corporate finance and accounting. For those seeking more advanced financial modeling training, NYIM offers a Financial Modeling Bootcamp. This 21-hour course teaches students about corporate finance, using advanced Excel for financial modeling, sensitivity analysis, and assumptions. All students receive a training manual and have the option of a free course retake. 

Free Online Courses & Tutorials

Not ready to dive into an entire course? If you’re looking for an overview of financial modeling, the good news is you can get started learning for free online. Noble Desktop offers a range of short YouTube clips to help learners start working with financial modeling. These videos are each only several minutes long and offer insights into topics like Foreign Exchange,

Interest Rates and the Fed, and Understanding Terminal Value. Noble also provides over 100 free financial modeling tutorials on its Training Resources & Articles page. Learners can browse topics like stock options, the stock exchange, and a liquid market, among others. 

In addition to the free resources provided by Noble, other top educators also offer free content devoted to financial modeling. Udemy’s Introduction to Financial Modeling is a free course that teaches participants how to build a simple integrated financial statement model. Coursera also has several free financial modeling classes and tutorials available. One option is their Business and Financial Modeling Specialization, a beginner-friendly course that takes approximately six months to complete. Those enrolled receive instruction on how to create quantitative models, how to use spreadsheets to map and predict data, and how to measure and manage risk. 

Read more about free financial modeling videos and online tutorials.

On-Demand Classes

For individuals who need to balance their study of financial modeling with other commitments, such as full-time work or travel, self-paced coursework is for you. Unlike in-person and live online study, on-demand financial modeling classes are pre-recorded. Students can access the content at any time and from any location. Students can pause and rewind videos, which can help facilitate note-taking. Although it may be tricky to master complex financial modeling concepts like nested functions or VLOOKUP, self-paced courses are a good option for beginners looking to get started with financial modeling. In addition, self-paced material is a more affordable option. Some are even available for free from top providers.

Comparison of Financial Modeling Training Formats

Learning financial modeling is easier than ever, thanks to the abundance of online and in-person educational resources currently available. If you’re still trying to decide which learning format is best for you, the following sections will provide a brief overview of each type of study.

If you are an extroverted learner who thrives in traditional classrooms, in-person financial modeling classes are an excellent option. Courses are in a computer lab with the most up-to-date software and tools installed. Lessons are taught by an instructor with experience in finance, who is available to answer questions and provide support along the way. In-person study is an excellent opportunity to connect with other learners who are on the same learning path, which can facilitate networking. Although in-person financial modeling courses are often the most expensive training format, the cost is well worth it for the additional support that’s often available, such as assistance with portfolios and mentoring.

For students who may not wish to commute across town to attend class, live online financial modeling classes are a good alternative. Just like classroom study, students have access to an expert instructor in real-time who can provide guidance and help with complex modeling questions. Instead of battling rush-hour traffic and searching for parking every time class meets, you can study from the comfort of your home or office space. This engaging learning format is also ideal for those who may not live near a major city but don’t want to study financial modeling independently. One important consideration for this training format is that students still must attend recurring class meetings. This may require taking off work or making other scheduling adjustments.

The most flexible financial modeling learning format offered is self-paced study. Course materials like videos and tutorials are pre-recorded, meaning you can access them whenever is convenient. Asynchronous content can be paused and rewound as often as necessary and watched repeatedly to facilitate retention and allow for note-taking. Often, self-paced study is the most affordable option; some tutorials and videos are even available for free. However, knowing which content is the most up-to-date can be difficult. In addition, because on-demand training doesn’t provide an instructor, learning complex modeling concepts can be challenging in this format. For that reason, asynchronous financial modeling coursework is a good place to start for beginner-level instruction. Still, live instruction may be better if you want to master more advanced Excel tools and concepts.

Is it Possible to Teach Yourself Financial Modeling?

You may be wondering if it’s possible to teach yourself financial modeling. If you’re a self-motivated learner, you can get started learning financial modeling using online tutorials and pre-recorded video content. These resources can provide a general overview of the field and some background on how to use finance and accounting skills and Excel to create basic models. While these videos contain content suited for beginners, it can be much more challenging to learn more complex concepts, such as VBA and other advanced Excel functions, on your own.

Because on-demand financial modeling content is pre-recorded, it’s a flexible way to study for those who may need to balance their study with travel, family, or full-time employment. It’s also generally an affordable learning option (some are even offered for free). That means you can begin watching YouTube and reading online tutorials to start with financial modeling without paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for an entire course. 

However, it can be challenging to find answers to questions or tackle advanced concepts because you won’t have access to an instructor when learning on your own. Suppose you’re learning financial modeling for professional reasons and need to grasp this process entirely. In that case, you may need to enroll in a live class where you can access an expert instructor with industry experience in creating financial models. Another consideration of self-paced financial modeling study is finding the most up-to-date video content can be difficult. Because so many online resources are available, it may be challenging to know which is the most up-to-date and which is already outdated. 

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn Financial Modeling

If you want to start learning financial modeling, the good news is that many different educational resources are available in-person and online. When deciding which learning environment is most suited for you, it’s important to consider why you’re interested in studying this skill and what you’ll do with your financial modeling knowledge once you have it.

Free introductory-level courses and on-demand financial modeling resources are good starting points for those without prior financial modeling experience. These videos and tutorials are pre-recorded, which means they can be watched anytime and from any location. This is the most flexible learning format in that it allows students to balance studying financial modeling with other commitments, like travel, family, and work. Learners can pause and rewind lessons as often as needed when taking notes and revisit entire videos to help with more complicated modeling skills. Because these resources are free, they offer a low-stakes starting point for financial modeling study. However, since these classes don’t give students access to an instructor, they are better suited for beginner-level study rather than trying to master complex financial modeling concepts.

Noble Desktop’s Learn Financial Modeling blog provides a wealth of information on creating financial projections and models. Articles are available on topics like mergers and acquisitions, three-statement financial modeling, and internal rate of return. For those who are also looking to learn more about FinTech, Noble offers free FinTech resources and tutorials as well. 

If you’re interested in studying financial modeling to develop a solid working knowledge of this process, to plug a skill gap, or to progress in your current career, enrolling in a Financial Modeling Bootcamp such as the one offered by Noble Desktop may be a better option. This course is offered both in-person and live online, meaning students can choose whether to commute to campus for expert instruction or complete lessons from the comfort of their home or office. Participants receive instruction on finance and accounting fundamentals and how to use Excel to create a robust financial model. While in-person and live online coursework costs more than asynchronous study materials, it often includes additional perks, such as the option of a free course retake. This learning format also allows students to connect with an instructor in real time, who can answer questions and provide guidance along the way.

For those who want to master financial modeling to begin a new career or pivot to a different industry, certificate study is an excellent option. Certificate study is typically the most expensive learning option. The additional cost is worth it because participants in financial modeling certificate programs receive perks such as one-on-one mentoring, career coaching, and professional development. 

Learn Financial Modeling with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Noble Desktop offers several excellent learning options for those interested in studying financial modeling. Noble’s Financial Modeling Bootcamp covers the basics of accounting, finance, and corporate valuation. Those enrolled in this hands-on class work with Excel to create a discounted cash flow model. Students who don’t have a background in accounting or finance will be sent a short guide on terminology before class starts. All participants should have intermediate Excel proficiency as a prerequisite.

Noble’s Financial Analyst Training Program provides learners with instruction on pertinent corporate and financial concepts and how to create a full valuation model. This intensive program teaches core Excel skills, like how to work with PivotTables and shortcuts, as well as advanced Excel techniques, including cash flow projection tools and Goal Seek. All students will create an integrated, three-statement financial model based on current financial data.

Noble also offers financial modeling training courses in-person and live online. Those interested in learning more about how to use Excel for modeling can attend the Excel Bootcamp. In addition, FinTech courses such as Python for Data Science Bootcamp, Algorithmic Trading With Python, and FinTech Bootcamp are also available. Noble’s FinTech Bootcamp provides hands-on training from expert instructors in creating machine learning models, using programming languages like SQL and Python to analyze financial data, and working with various types of data, such as integers, strings, and floats. One-on-one mentoring and the option of a free course retake is included for all participants.