Can you make a profession out of financial modelling? Is an entrepreneurial spirit, financial modelling skills and some drive enough to build a business out of financial modelling? In this article, we try to answer the question of whether a professional financial modeller is a viable career choice, and if it is the right one for every financial analyst.
The most well-known, international financial modelling firms, certainly offer to create financial models as a core service. But they offer a host of other products as well, ranging from model audits to tax due diligence. In order to become a professional financial modeller, one should, therefore, look for a niche area of expertise in order to differentiate yourself from these global behemoths. For example, a number of highly successful financial modellers I know have specialised in areas such as training, business forecasting and model due diligence. One could even specialise in a specific financial sector such as project finance (Corality and Operis), corporate finance or even aviation finance (if you haven’t yet done so, listen to the importance of financial modelling in aviation finance here). Working in a large firm will also allow you to focus on your career of being a professional financial modeller.
Specialising in one of these sectors will allow you to know your clients better and become an expert in this field.
If you’ve listened to the podcast with Adrian Miric or the podcast with Colin Human, you will know that professional financial modellers who have built long-lasting businesses do exist! There are also specific project finance modelling houses such as Corality (now Mazars Infrastructure). Listen to the podcast with Corality founder, Rickard Warnelid, here.
But you don’t need to be a professional modelling outfit, exuding financial modelling confidence and expertise, in order to make this a career choice. Many people freelance in the new, wonderful gig economy. The gig economy means anyone can be a professional financial modeller!
These days, setting up a company is as easy as creating a website for yourself! On pages such as Fiverr, you will find a myriad of financial modellers with varying levels of expertise. What you lack in face to face contact you make up for in often much lower prices (quality checks are left up to the buyer!).
A final piece of advice for the aspiring professional financial modeller is to be aware of trends. Financial modellers who never believed in Excel were left behind, and this may happen again with those who are unwilling to adopt machine learning technology. Indeed, project finance modelling required one to know a bit of VBA, making models that didn’t have VBA cumbersome. Being aware of current trends isn’t just necessary to ensure your professional future, its part of being a good professional itself. Always ensure you can offer your clients up to date and relevant products and advice.
Finally, being an entrepreneur is not easy! Certainly, having a job with a guaranteed and stable income is much safer and more predictable. There are pros and cons to working for yourself and one should evaluate these carefully before making the leap (I’ve worked in corporate at two different stages of my life, and have also worked for myself and run my own businesses at two different stages, so I have experienced first hand the pros and cons!) Working for yourself will require a great deal of determination and perseverance. There will be times when you aren’t busy and you wonder why, and there will be times when you are busy and aren’t able to make sales or focus on strategy. Being an entrepreneur is a journey not for the faint-hearted – but the rewards are great if you are willing and able to stick it out!
Good luck and happy financial modelling!