United StatesFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since January 6, 2018
Ludwig has closed over $30 billion of transactions in the US and Europe at Deutsche Bank's investment banking division. He has worked closely with investment professionals at top firms like Blackstone and Starwood Capital on deals ranging from asset and business disposals to multi-billion dollar acquisitions. He joined Toptal to connect with other entrepreneurs and go-getters and share his knowledge around investing, financing, strategy, and M&A.
United StatesFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since January 26, 2017
A Harvard economics graduate, Keith is a seasoned financial consultant who has helped clients grow their businesses and successfully raise over $4.5 billion. He has executed numerous complex financial transactions for startups and Fortune 500 corporations while working at leading Wall Street investment banks like Merrill Lynch and private equity firms like KKR. Keith has also served as a chief financial officer (CFO) for a healthcare services company.
United StatesFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since January 9, 2017
A chartered financial analyst and Columbia/London Business School MBA, Charlie founded a consulting firm specializing in providing strategic and financial analysis. He also currently leads strategic initiatives at FreeWheel Media. Recently, Charlie's work has included conducting equity research and valuing non-traditional data sets. He joined Toptal to help clients leverage financial and strategic analysis to improve business results.
PeruFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since September 1, 2021
Duncan has a passion for startups. He has experience in business and revenue models, asset allocation, budgeting, forecasting, valuations, and pitch decks and fundraising on many projects during his time in Silicon Valley. His MBA from The Wharton School and mechanical engineering degree perfectly complement finance, technology and operational execution. For him, consulting is a rewarding challenge; he helps clients make good financial decisions and grow their companies successfully.
NetherlandsFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since June 9, 2021
Jason is an investment banker and corporate finance advisor who has advised cross-border transactions worth $1 billion+ during the past eight years. He has worked with startups and billion-dollar companies, and he excels at helping clients maximize deal value in both structured and unstructured environments. Jason enjoys freelancing because it gives him the opportunity to work on fascinating deals and collaborate with people who have diverse perspectives.
GeorgiaFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since March 11, 2020
Kate is a finance expert with 10+ years of experience in FP&A, financial modeling, budgeting, financial reporting, and financial management. Before establishing a private financial consulting firm, she was a corporate risk officer at the largest bank in Georgia and a senior analyst at an FTSE 250 investment holding company with a $400+ million turnover. She started her career as an auditor at Deloitte. Kate is passionate about supporting her clients' growth and is ready to serve their needs.
United KingdomFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since August 26, 2021
Nick is a CFA with a 28-year track record spanning 40+ countries in M&A, finance, strategy, and policy. He's supported executive decisions in 60 high-stake projects, including M&A transactions ($46 billion), radio-spectrum auctions and trades ($3.5 billion), public policy advocacy, government contract bids (worth $1 billion), go-to-market strategies, and raises for small caps and tech startups. Independent since 2001, Nick has enjoyed working in diverse markets, sectors, and cultures.
IndiaFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since June 4, 2018
Dhruv has worked on successful fundraises and consulting projects worth over $1 billion, with a focus on energy, tech, food, and life science projects across Asia, the US, and Africa. He is a partner at a consulting firm and has more than a decade of experience in fundraising, startup consulting, process improvement, M&A, and project finance. With an MBA in finance, Dhruv enjoys the exposure and sheer variety of assignments that come with freelancing.
NamibiaFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since August 6, 2021
A qualified CA, Hennie has been involved in transactions in various industries, including an equity transaction by Nedbank in PayToday, Namibia's first fintech startup. He has a strong background in operational finance, valuations, and various debt and equity transactions. He enjoys using his experience to advise clients on proposed transactions and sustainable future strategies while considering intrinsic nuances and opportunities involved in various company cultures and structures.
SingaporeFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since April 11, 2021
Johan began his career with PwC, advising on some of the most prominent private equity transactions in the UK and the Nordics. Following a decade as an M&A advisor, he took up a position with a billionaire investor, focusing on turnaround investments, including a US publicly-traded company where he was parachuted in as CFO. Johan held the position of CFO and COO for ConnectedLife, a medical technology company, successfully raising $2.5 million over Zoom during the COVID lockdown in Spring 2020.
United StatesFreelance Financial Modeling Consultant Since November 11, 2020
With rolled-up sleeves, Jared's led the finance functions for entities with assets in excess of $1 billion. He joined the Toptal network to leverage his experience as a front-line finance leader (corporate modeling, 13-week cash-flow forecasts, Power BI reporting, and day-to-day accounting) to help startups and mid-sized organizations flourish. Jared has learned from his experiences in large corporations at Praxair and in early to mid-stage PE-backed firms (Quantum Energy Partners) in Texas.
The ways to build financial models become ever more fine-tuned, and the experts behind them have to keep up. The right financial modeling consultant can change a company's outlook, crafting fine-tuned models that are simply structured yet provide the insights executives need to act. This guide provides a breakdown of the key skills and attributes you'll want to see in a financial modeling consultant.
... allows corporations to quickly assemble teams that have the right skills for specific projects.
Despite accelerating demand for coders, Toptal prides itself on almost Ivy League-level vetting.
Building a cross-platform app to be used worldwide
Martin so far is a complete Rockstar.
His first bit of work produced a tool for us to model and forecast our financials and is far and away worth every penny we paid and more.
Just thought I’d share that with you.
Pete Pellizzari, CEO
Erik has been an extremely valuable member of our team who has tremendous breath of experience with start ups in our lifecycle phase. What makes his contribution unique and highly effective is not only his excellent financial modeling skills and knowledge, but also the emotional intelligence with which he manages each relationship at Vault, understands our team dynamics, and helps us tackle start up challenges effectively. It is rare to find a part-time consultant who makes you feel like he/she is genuinely invested in the success of your company.
Romy Parzick, COO
Student Loan Benefits, Inc. dba Vault
Toptal has been an incredible key partner for Sidekick. As an early-stage start-up, we’ve leveraged both design and financial talent. The experience has been incredible, with those professionals bringing creativity, expertise, and advice to ensure Sidekick succeeds. My Toptal financial expert helped steer Sidekick’s business model, which resulted in an initial ROI of 650x! My experience with Toptal has given me great confidence in the future.
Doug MacKay, Founder / CEO
Chris was great to work with and was always available on my schedule. His communication skills and personality were a 10/10. His outputs on the project were top notch and allowed us to develop more efficient forecasting and initiative prioritization frameworks. I would definitely use Chris again.
Chris Pozek, CEO
What really sets Toptal apart is the caliber of finance talent available in their network. I had a very specific and pressing need, and Toptal quickly matched me with the perfect person for the job. The expert produced a thoughtful and robust financial analysis that has ultimately allowed us to forecast and prioritize initiatives much more efficiently.
Chris Pozek, CEO
Scott had a lot of finance experience which he used to ask the right questions and help us do things more quickly than we would have done without him. The commission model is crucial to us being able to scale, he integrated seamlessly with our finance team and efficiently got us the outputs we needed.
Naushad Parpia, Founder and CEO
I was very impressed with the quality of finance talent in Toptal’s network. Our expert's experience was immediately evident through his insightful questions and the speed at which we could move. Toptal stayed on top of the process from making the match through to the successful completion of the project. I've already recommended Toptal Finance to my network.
Naushad Parpia, Founder and CEO
How to Hire Financial Modeling Consultants through Toptal
Talk to One of Our Industry Experts
A Toptal director of finance will work with you to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics.
Work With Hand-Selected Talent
Within days, we'll introduce you to the right financial modeling consultant for your project. Average time to match is under 24 hours.
The Right Fit, Guaranteed
Work with your new financial modeling consultant for a trial period (pay only if satisfied), ensuring they're the right fit before starting the engagement.
How are Toptal financial modeling consultants different?
At Toptal, we thoroughly screen our financial modeling consultants to ensure we only match you with talent of the highest caliber. Of the more than 200,000 people who apply to join the Toptal network each year, fewer than 3% make the cut. You'll work with finance experts (never generalized recruiters or HR reps) to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics. The end result: expert vetted talent from our network, custom matched to fit your business needs. Start now.
Can I hire financial modeling consultants in less than 48 hours through Toptal?
Depending on availability and how fast you can progress, you could start working with a financial modeling consultant within 48 hours of signing up. Start now.
What is the no-risk trial period for Toptal financial modeling consultants?
We make sure that each engagement between you and your financial modeling consultant begins with a trial period of up to two weeks. This means that you have time to confirm the engagement will be successful. If you're completely satisfied with the results, we'll bill you for the time and continue the engagement for as long as you'd like. If you're not completely satisfied, you won't be billed. From there, we can either part ways, or we can provide you with another expert who may be a better fit and with whom we will begin a second, no-risk trial. Start now.
How to Hire a Great Financial Modeling Consultant
Financial modeling (internationally financial modelling) has advanced tremendously over the last two decades, evolving into a true science. Nobel Prizes have been awarded on the back of financial modeling and research, including the 2013 Prize in Economics to Eugene F. Fama, Lars Peter Hansen, and Robert J. Shiller “for their empirical analysis of asset prices”. Multibillion-dollar hedge funds have been set up around specific financial models, such as David Li’s Gaussian Copula function or the notorious Black Scholes model, all of which spurred a wave of new investment vehicles looking to leverage the models’ determination of price movements in different asset classes.
Whilst these are clear examples of extremely advanced financial models, the overall point remains clear: financial modeling plays a fundamental role in modern day financial and business decisions.
Finding top financial modelers is no easy task. The ability to assess financial modeling skills comes with practice. This guide is aimed at helping you source such talent effectively by putting candidates through their diverse paces.
Organized modeler, organized model
The bread and butter of a good financial model is that it be well-structured, clean, and easy to follow. After all, these models are usually shown to or referenced by other members of an organization. If financial models are sprawling instead of streamlined, they will largely be useless. A CFO cannot be spending precious time to understand a document as opposed to focusing on its outputs and takeaways or how it relates to the business KPIs.
Reflecting this, good financial modelers will tend to be structured, organized people, who enjoy data analysis and making well-constructed and easy to grasp models. A love of minutiae, such as Excel formatting, is likely to reveal a top-notch financial modeler, who takes pride in what they craft.
A good first step, therefore, is to use a simple modeling exercise. This is not aimed at determining their financial skills or their intrinsic Excel knowledge, but mainly their propensity to create clean-looking models that are orderly and coherent.
An appropriate simple modeling exercise could be the following:
Q: Company X has been approached by a local boutique investment bank with an opportunity to purchase a smaller competitor in an adjacent market. The CFO has asked you to create a financial model with an upside case, base case, and downside scenario to assess the growth prospects and risks of the company.
The following guidelines on a financial model’s structure will rapidly identify good financial modelers, no matter the financials:
Inputs: A model must clearly show where the inputs are. This is particularly important for questions of portability. As the model is handed over to colleagues, they must be able to determine where the inputs are, in case they need to perform a sensitivity analysis on the key inputs, for example.
Number of tabs: Financial models require interaction between many different sections (P&L, Balance Sheet, etc.). The right build will be structured so as to lead users naturally between various financial statements, sheets containing operating models, sheets that model returns, sheets that model particular functions such as capital expenditure, and more.
Output tabs: Financial modeling almost always involves reaching an output or conclusion. In the scenario depicted above, the CFO is looking to understand what the prospects of the company are, meaning the outcome would concern growth and profitability projections Whatever the purpose of the model, good modelers will make sure that the outputs or the conclusions are clearly laid out.
Key to financial terms used: It is unwise to assume every person looking at a model is fully financially literate. Capex and ROIC are common enough abbreviations, but if a model mentions NCAVPS, a key explaining that this means Net Current Asset Value Per Share can be a blessing.
Excel still rules the roost
While Microsoft Excel spreadsheets may have a reputation as the aging veteran of financial modeling tools, there is a good reason for its staying power. The breadth of options it provides allows a financial modeler to dominate any inputs needed. There are hundreds of relevant Excel formulas, with a good financial modeler needing to be familiar with a multitude of these to achieve any particular result needed.
The best formulas have two advantages:
They achieve a particular result in a lightweight way, without encumbering the model too much so that the file remains fairly light and easy to load.
They can be understood and modified by others and the formula must continue to work when other parts of the model are altered. This is particularly relevant when formulas are combined to achieve a particular result.
Q: Company Y is updating its business model ahead of a Series A round of fundraising. However, its first attempt at financial modeling in Excel was not done proficiently, resulting in a very heavy model, which is unclear to use and takes a long time to recalculate. Please update, improve and simplify it.
Examples of how a modeler should be making models more lightweight are as follows:
Non-volatile formulas. Certain types of formulas in Excel are considered “volatile” as they get recalculated every time a change is made. This makes an Excel sheet much slower. A good modeler will identify these and change them to non-volatile types. A specific example would be changing OFFSET formulas to INDEX formulas.
Pivot tables: A common reason for slow Excel sheets is large amounts of data. If summary tables or output tabs are made using formulas referencing large amounts of data, the model will slow down significantly. A good way to avoid this is through the use of pivot tables.
Tables can hold data: Tables are a good way to store data due to their more dynamic nature. If data is added or removed, the table still works, which allows for easier referencing in formulas (for instance, by referencing a table column as opposed to the exact array of cells).
Macros: Macros allow for a host of added functionality. Whilst many models will not need a macro, a candidate who understands how to create and use focused macros can clearly provide more advanced Excel functionality when the time comes.
A real data sleuth
“An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than illumination.” —Andrew Lang
Financial modelers will often be tasked with producing models in the absence of much guidance or data. When faced with this situation, experienced modelers will know which type of information they need to source, where to find it, and most importantly, how to filter out data which is irrelevant to their exercise. In other words, strong modelers should be able to construct their own scenarios and guidance to produce the results they have been asked to produce.
A good way to test a candidate’s ability in this regard could be as follows:
Q: The CEO of a Fortune 500 company is considering a takeover bid for a major competitor. He has asked you to perform a valuation analysis of the takeover candidate, through a financial model, while applying the right methodology.
A financial modeling expert must be familiar with the main methods of company valuation. But more importantly, for this exercise, they should be familiar with the sources of data one would use in order to perform a company valuation. The candidate would first need to model some estimates of the company’s performance going forward.
Forward financials can be estimated by analyzing historical figures and predicting future performance, learning about overall market dynamics and using the forward estimates of comparable companies.
A good financial modeler would be expected to investigate in the following way:
Request specific historical company information.
Analyze historical performance and ask questions to understand numbers driving factors behind the company’s performance.
Become familiar with market the company operates in: competitors, products, market share, etc.
Look for external analysis (analyst research reports, media articles), so as to build an understanding of company’s reputation and overall industry drivers.
The above exercise is not to have the candidate perform a valuation analysis but to hear from how they would go about sourcing the information needed to build their model and provide the analysis.
Step back and see the bigger picture
Despite the above, an extremely common pitfall in financial modeling and business modeling is the inability to take a step back and see the bigger picture. It is all too easy to get bogged down in the details of a model and forget that a model is supposed to simulate a real world situation. seeing the bigger picture. Top financial modelers need to constantly be asking themselves the following questions:
Do the numbers I am showing make sense?
Is the outcome of my model feasible?
How do my numbers compare to real-life comparables?
If financial models are meant to guide senior executives in their decision-making, the modelers must anticipate what the executives need and the questions they expect the model to answer. If done well, this answers the need for structure, no superfluous data being included, and avoids time loss right due to unreasonable outcomes in the financial model.
It is worth testing a candidate’s thought process at this stage.
Q: A CFO is considering investing in a new production facility, and has been soliciting bank proposals for financing. His bankers have sent him a model of what sort of financing structure they could provide as well as their forecasts on the investment’s performance. The CFO has asked you to analyze the numbers and draw some conclusions and recommendations.
In performing the analysis, a top financial modeler would be expected to do the following in order to immediately understand the structure of the model:
Understand where the key inputs are (pertaining to operational projections as well as to the financing structure).
Define key outputs/metrics CFO is looking for to make a decision. Here, the most appropriate metric is likely to be an analysis of the Net Present Value (NPV) of the projected investment. Strong modelers would be familiar with the concept behind NPV but should also ask what key metrics the decision will be based on to include them prominently in the model.
How the model ties everything together. Once the key inputs and outputs have been determined, the modeler should figure out how the model uses the inputs to create the desired outputs. In this case, the two key parts of the model will be the operational projections of the investment and the financing structure being proposed by the bank.
Once this is established, a stress testing process should be carried out to put the model through its paces.
Providing for variables - Once the model structure is defined, the modeler should see how key outputs change with a given change in the inputs. This also allows for forecasts to cover more extreme scenarios.
Trying different financing structures - In this example, the modeler can see how different financing structures might influence the outcome. For instance, a comparison of how debt and equity instruments affect the desired outputs provides the CFO with some good perspective.
Test operational assumptions - The model can only work if the assumptions within it make sense. Wildly optimistic assumptions on the cash flows of the investment would produce skewed results and help no one. A good modeler is likely to question these assumptions until they are satisfied.
To summarize, a good modeler cannot focus only on the model and its complexities. Putting themselves in the shoes of the decision-maker allows them to understand what drives these decisions and make the model reflect that.
Pride and joy in their work
As a final note, it has become very clear that the best modelers tend to really enjoy modeling. Like an architect approaching the completion of a building, they will tend to see it as an art. They will enjoy discussing modeling tips and tricks with their coworkers. And they will spend time on their own learning about new skills.
When assessing a freelancer, they should be allowed to wax lyrical, to share their favorite model or speak of their proudest creation, revealing from where their pride comes from or how its complex parts were put together. An interviewer should leave this process to flow organically, allowing themselves to be given the grand tour of a financial modeler’s portfolio. The pride and fulfillment they derive from their work is a clear benchmark of how they will approach future challenges set before them.
Financial modeling is a mission-critical task for many companies. Having strong financial modelers on the financial consultant team can make a CFO’s life far easier, streamline decision-making and often help gain an edge over one’s competitors. As such, hiring expertise talent in this area is fundamental. Nevertheless, doing your due diligence and judging a candidate’s ability to model is not easy. Much like a model itself, the interview process cannot be static but ebb and flow to test out the various pointers laid out in this guide. Dive in.