Financial modelling terms explained


Uncover the world of financial modeling with our comprehensive guide to the essential terms and concepts.

Financial modelling is an essential tool in the world of finance, used by professionals to forecast a business's financial performance. It involves a wide range of terms and concepts that can be complex and challenging to understand. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify these terms, providing clear and concise explanations for beginners and experienced professionals alike.

Understanding Financial Modelling

Financial modelling is a quantitative analysis used to predict a company's future financial performance based on historical data. It involves the use of mathematical computations to forecast future outcomes. Financial modelling helps in making informed business decisions and in financial analysis.

Financial models are used in various sectors, including investment banking, corporate finance, and risk management. They are also used in strategic planning, budgeting, and forecasting. Understanding the terms used in financial modelling is crucial for anyone involved in these fields.

Key Financial Modelling Terms

There are several key terms used in financial modelling. These include:

  1. Balance Sheet: A financial statement that provides a snapshot of a company's financial condition at a specific point in time. It includes assets, liabilities, and shareholders' equity.
  2. Income Statement: Also known as the profit and loss statement, it shows the company's revenues, costs, and expenses over a period.
  3. Cash Flow Statement: This statement shows how changes in balance sheet accounts and income affect cash and cash equivalents, breaking the analysis down to operating, investing, and financing activities.

Types of Financial Models

There are several types of financial models used by financial analysts. Each model serves a specific purpose and is used under different circumstances. Understanding these models is crucial for accurate financial forecasting and decision-making.

Here are some of the most commonly used financial models:

  • Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Model: This model is used to estimate the value of an investment based on its future cash flows. The future cash flow projections are then discounted back to the present value, which gives the analyst the value of the investment.
  • Comparative Company Analysis Model: This model, also known as "comps," involves the comparison of the operating metrics of a company with those of its peers to determine its relative value.
  • Financial Statement Modelling: This is the most basic type of financial modelling and often the starting point for analysts. It involves the preparation of a company's historical financial information, analysis of its performance, and forecasting future performance.

Building a Financial Model

Building a financial model involves several steps. It requires a thorough understanding of the company's financial statements, its business model, and the market in which it operates. The process also requires a high level of attention to detail and a strong understanding of financial concepts.

The following are the key steps involved in building a financial model:

  1. Understanding the Business: This involves a thorough analysis of the company's business model and its market. It includes understanding the company's revenue streams, cost structure, and the key drivers of its business.
  2. Gathering Historical Information: This involves collecting and analyzing the company's historical financial information. This information is used as a basis for forecasting future performance.
  3. Forecasting Performance: This involves making assumptions about the company's future performance based on its historical performance and market conditions. These assumptions are then used to forecast the company's future income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.
  4. Valuation: This involves determining the value of the company based on the forecasts. This can be done using a variety of methods, including the DCF model and the comparative company analysis model.


Financial modelling is a critical tool in financial analysis and decision-making. It involves a range of complex terms and concepts, but with a clear understanding and application, it can be a powerful tool for forecasting and strategic planning. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced professional, understanding these terms can enhance your financial analysis skills and help you make more informed business decisions.

Remember, the key to effective financial modelling is not just about understanding the terms and concepts, but also about applying them correctly and effectively. So, keep learning, keep practicing, and you'll soon become a master of financial modelling.

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