Toptal Finance Blog

The Toptal Finance Blog is a hub for in-depth studies and analysis on all facets of finance, ranging from innovative strategies on raising capital to detailed coverage of new finance trends and technologies.
Javier Enrile
M&A Negotiation Tactics and Strategies: Tips from a Pro

Mergers and acquisitions are headline-grabbing events that are often the pinnacle of a CEO’s career. But they also often fail to generate value, as numerous studies over the years have shown.

With over 15 years of experience doing M&A deals, Toptal Finance Expert Javier Enrile shows that the main reason for disappointing results is simple: Most people think M&A is merely an exercise of agreeing on a price for the deal. What they fail to understand is that there is a science to doing M&A that often makes the difference between a deal being successful or not.

In this article, Enrile runs through three key tactics for ensuring your company can get the most value out of an M&A transaction.

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Alex Graham
Do Economic Moats Still Matter?

Companies, like castles, need a line of defense to repel the invaders’ advances. Economic moats, taking a cue from their watery namesakes, are long-term and sustainable competitive advantages that protect others from seizing market share. But on the flipside, are they actually just lazy, passive strategies that shun innovation?

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Stefan Josefsson
Forecaster’s Toolbox: How to Perform Monte Carlo Simulations

One of the most important and challenging aspects of forecasting is handling the uncertainty inherent in examining the future. Every CEO, CFO, board member, investor, or investment committee member brings their own experience and approach to financial projections and uncertainty, influenced by different incentives. Oftentimes, comparing actual outcomes against projections underscores the need to explicitly recognize uncertainty.

Monte Carlo simulations are an extremely effective tool for handling risks and probabilities, used for everything from constructing DCF valuations, valuing call options in M&A, and discussing risks with lenders to seeking financing and guiding the allocation of VC funding for startups. This article provides a step-by-step tutorial on using Monte Carlo simulations in practice.

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Toby Clarence-Smith
The Most Exciting Asset Class in Private Equity? Search Funds from the Investor’s Perspective

In the current low interest rate environment, investors have been increasingly moving towards alternative asset classes, particularly private equity which continues to attract the lion’s share of investor capital. But could a relatively unknown, niche new asset class hold the key for outsized market performance?

In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Toby Clarence-Smith uncovers the world of search fund investing, reviewing some of the key aspects of the asset class from the investor standpoint as well as running through the main benefits of putting money to work in this space.

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Elizabeth J. Howell Hanano, CFA
Legal Sports Betting: A New Economy Built on Vice

In the last Super Bowl when the New England Patriots faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles, Americans bet a staggering $4.76 billion on the game. 97% of that figure was done so illegally. However, this will likely change by the time the next Super Bowl rolls around. In a hotly anticipated move on May 14, 2018, the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, paving the way for states to legalize sports betting.

This article covers the foundations of sports betting, including its $150 billion market size, implementation timeline, and revenue distribution. It will also examine the implications of its legalization, including increased sports engagement and popularity, ethical concerns, fresh opportunities, and its impact on fantasy sports and eSports.

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Toby Clarence-Smith
Don't Scale an Unprofitable Business: Why Unit Economics (Still) Matter

With venture funding having grown more than 120% in the US in the last five years, startup founders and investors alike have grown increasingly comfortable with low margin business models. But the successes of the Amazons and Facebooks of this world often mask failure in a slew of other sectors, where the “build it and they will come” model doesn’t always work.

In this article, Toptal Finance Expert Toby Clarence-Smith brings attention back to the importance of studying a business’ long-term sustainability prospects, with a particular focus on unit economics, one of the building blocks of profitability and breakeven analysis for startups.

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Orinola Gbadebo-Smith
Mission Statements: How Effectively Used Intangible Assets Create Corporate Value

Of the three functional categories that drive value in business—i.e., the “hard,” the “soft,” and the “intangible”—mission statements comfortably reside in the third, alongside such concepts as brand and culture.

But despite the skepticism that is often associated with this category, and having uncovered some of the greatest gems in the corporate arena, this article argues that mission statements, when crafted and utilized effectively, are capable of driving billions of dollars in value.

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William B. Doyle, Jr.
Selling a Business for Maximum Value in a Challenging M&A Market

With $936 billion of uninvested private equity capital inching down market, why do 46% to 80% of lower middle market sell-side transactions fail to close? The usual answer is that companies are not ready for buyers’ examination and owners can be overly optimistic or even greedy.

Business owners can do much more to put themselves in the driver’s seat. Success boils down to the following: (1) take the time and do the work to prepare for an exit transaction and (2) apply “intelligent greed” to close your best deal.

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Elizabeth J. Howell Hanano, CFA
How to Be an Amazing Financial Consultant

Fewer than 3% of applicants make it through Toptal Finance’s rigorous screening process. How do the best of the best become such effective financial consultants? We sat down with one of Toptal’s most on-demand financial consultants, Jeffrey Fidelman, who shared his proprietary methods for ensuring success for his clients and how he has grown his own business exponentially.

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David Turney
Estimating WACC for Private Company Valuation: A Tutorial

The discount rate is a critical input in any discounted cash flow valuation analysis. How does an analyst estimate a reasonable discount rate for a private company that has no publicly traded debt or equity?

This article focuses on best practices for estimation of the WACC in the context of a private company valuation. The discussion begins with an overview of the WACC, background on the components of the WACC, methods to estimate the WACC components for private companies, and an example of how to apply this framework to estimate a privately-held building materials company.

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Alberto Mihelcic Bazzana
Advanced Financial Modeling Best Practices: Hacks for Intelligent, Error-Free Modeling

From abstract spreadsheets to real-world application, financial models have become an inextricable part of business life and an indispensable part of every company’s toolkit. But irrespective of its ubiquitousness as a productivity and decision-making tool, many out there still have a love-hate relationship with it.

Finance expert Alberto Bazzana authors a comprehensive “how-to guide”, for both the novices and experts among us, detailing Wall Street’s best practices for intelligent, effective, and error-free financial modeling.

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Melissa Lin
Private Equity Succession Planning Do’s and Don’ts

While growing investor enthusiasm has contributed to a historic $3 trillion of fundraising over the last five years, the PE industry faces increasing competition amongst firms, record-high multiples and other factors making it difficult to generate attractive returns. One aspect for consideration is succession planning, especially since CEO turnover at portfolio companies occurs at a rate of 73% and can increase hold times and decrease returns.

This article defines succession planning, and examines the best practices and mistakes to avoid in succession planning for PE portfolio companies. It also explores succession planning within private equity firms themselves, something PE firms have been uncharacteristically proactive about confronting recently.

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Vidur G. Gupta
Family Office Investment Guide: An Alternative to Venture Capital

The origins of family office investing date back, colorfully, to at least 15th century Florence, when the Medicis auspiciously gave the likes of Michelangelo and Da Vinci their start. Fast forward to present day, family offices have quietly continued to rival household VC names in the capital structures of the world’s largest tech companies (Uber, Facebook, and WeWork, for example).

Finance Expert Vidur Gupta presents a captivating introductory piece on the secretive but potent world of family office investing.

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Erik Frederick
The Financial Implications of Technical Debt

Technical debt, which relates to suboptimal technology infrastructure in an organization, can actually be a huge financial burden on a business. However, like traditional financial debt, there are steps and processes that can be taken to manage and mitigate the risk. In this article, we elaborate on how CFOs can tackle their technical debt burden.

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Melissa Lin
Waking Up a Sleeping Industry: Mattress Industry Disruption

Once crammed into stuffy showrooms with eager salespeople and a dizzying plethora of models, mattress purchases used to be notoriously complicated. However, a upstarts have recently revitalized the industry with innovations in marketing, delivery, and a direct-to-consumer model.

It’s true that the mattress industry is experiencing an upheaval, but rather than the typical narrative of newer operations completely displacing older ones, perhaps there’s room for both collaboration and innovation. There are lessons for investors, entrepreneurs, and corporate moguls alike.

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David Turney
Professional Sports Franchise Valuation

Professional sports franchises continue to see record sale prices. But what drives a team like the Dallas Cowboys, who haven’t won a Super Bowl in over 20 years, to top the list of the most valuable sports franchises in the United States?

In this article, Toptal Finance Expert David Turney provides an overview of professional sports economics, unique valuation considerations, and a team valuation example.

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