My model efficiencies - 6 months in

Only ~6 months into first FT role as an analyst, but here the model efficiencies that I've been able to implement since I started. If these help you, that's great... use them. Share efficiencies that have helped you below so I can look good when I implement them ;)

1. Scenario analysis

Setting: My firm pastes cash flows into the back of an excel model, and uses other tabs to index match and clean up the raw data formatting to a presentable form. If we need multiple scenarios, we have 2-4 tabs in the back for cash flows.
Previously: we used find and replace to change the tab names in all the index match formulas to change reference tab.
Improvement: I used the indirect function along with the index match function to reference a cell that holds the tab name. Used a drop down list on that cell to easily change the reference tab between scenarios.
Additional note: Use scenario manager if more than a couple cells change between scenarios or to save base case. Really useful tool.

2. PPT Referencing to Excel

Setting: My firm uses PPT for all our pitch decks and pastes images of Excel cash flows and what not into
the deck. The problem is, the excel model changes 400 times every deal before the deck is final.
Previously: Every time the model changed, the analysts would go through the deck and update all the
images (as well as any references to the model like return metrics) with the newest version. Done at least
5 times per deal before final.
Improvement: When pasting images, choose paste special and click paste as link. This image will now
update whenever the model is changed. Keep in mind that if you do this with dozens of images and
choose to update images every time the file is opened, it takes a while. I only update all images once
before we send it out, then I break all links so the client can open without issue.

I know I have a lot to learn still so I'm looking forward to your replies. Also, I'm sure the two mentioned above can be improved on, I just used them because I've never seen anything quite like it before.

Comments (34)

Most Helpful
Feb 27, 2020

Excel shortcuts

Shortcut key Action Menu equivalent comments version
Ctrl+A Select All None All
Ctrl+B Bold Format, Cells, Font, Font Style, Bold All
Ctrl+C Copy Edit, Copy All
Ctrl+D Fill Down Edit, Fill, Down All
Ctrl+F Find Edit, Find All
Ctrl+G Goto Edit, Goto All
Ctrl+H Replace Edit, Replace All
Ctrl+I Italic Format, Cells, Font, Font Style, Italic All
Ctrl+K Insert Hyperlink Insert, Hyperlink Excel 97/2000 +
Ctrl+N New Workbook File, New All
Ctrl+O Open File, Open All
Ctrl+P Print File, Print All
Ctrl+R Fill Right Edit, Fill Right All
Ctrl+S Save File, Save All
Ctrl+U Underline Format, Cells, Font, Underline, Single All
Ctrl+V Paste Edit, Paste All
Ctrl W Close File, Close Excel 97/2000 +
Ctrl+X Cut Edit, Cut All
Ctrl+Y Repeat Edit, Repeat All
Ctrl+Z Undo Edit, Undo All
F1 Help Help, Contents and Index All
F2 Edit None All
F3 Paste Name Insert, Name, Paste All
F4 Repeat last action Edit, Repeat. Works while not in Edit mode. All
F4 While typing a formula, switch between absolute/relative refs None All
F5 Goto Edit, Goto All
F6 Next Pane None All
F7 Spell check Tools, Spelling All
F8 Extend mode None All
F9 Recalculate all workbooks Tools, Options, Calculation, Calc Now All
F10 Activate Menubar N/A All
F11 New Chart Insert, Chart All
F12 Save As File, Save As All
Ctrl+: Insert Current Time None All
Ctrl+; Insert Current Date None All
Ctrl+" Copy Value from Cell Above Edit, Paste Special, Value All
Ctrl+' Copy Formula from Cell Above Edit, Copy All
Shift Hold down shift for additional functions in Excel's menu none Excel 97/2000 +
Shift+F1 What's This? Help, What's This? All
Shift+F2 Edit cell comment Insert, Edit Comments All
Shift+F3 Paste function into formula Insert, Function All
Shift+F4 Find Next Edit, Find, Find Next All
Shift+F5 Find Edit, Find, Find Next All
Shift+F6 Previous Pane None All
Shift+F8 Add to selection None All
Shift+F9 Calculate active worksheet Tools, Options, Calculation, Calc Sheet All
Ctrl+Alt+F9 Calculate all worksheets in all open workbooks, regardless of whether they have changed since the last calculation. None Excel 97/2000 +
Ctrl+Alt+Shift+F9 Rechecks dependent formulas and then calculates all cells in all open workbooks, including cells not marked as needing to be calculated. None Excel 97/2000 +
Shift+F10 Display shortcut menu None All
Shift+F11 New worksheet Insert, Worksheet All
Shift+F12 Save File, Save All
Ctrl+F3 Define name Insert, Names, Define All
Ctrl+F4 Close File, Close All
Ctrl+F5 XL, Restore window size Restore All
Ctrl+F6 Next workbook window Window, ... All
Shift+Ctrl+F6 Previous workbook window Window, ... All
Ctrl+F7 Move window XL, Move All
Ctrl+F8 Resize window XL, Size All
Ctrl+F9 Minimize workbook XL, Minimize All
Ctrl+F10 Maximize or restore window XL, Maximize All
Ctrl+F11 Inset 4.0 Macro sheet None in Excel 97. In versions prior to 97 - Insert, Macro, 4.0 Macro All
Ctrl+F12 File Open File, Open All
Alt+F1 Insert Chart Insert, Chart... All
Alt+F2 Save As File, Save As All
Alt+F4 Exit File, Exit All
Alt+F8 Macro dialog box Tools, Macro, Macros in Excel 97 Tools,Macros - in earlier versions Excel 97/2000 +
Alt+F11 Visual Basic Editor Tools, Macro, Visual Basic Editor Excel 97/2000 +
Ctrl+Shift+F3 Create name by using names of row and column labels Insert, Name, Create All
Ctrl+Shift+F6 Previous Window Window, ... All
Ctrl+Shift+F12 Print File, Print All
Alt+Shift+F1 New worksheet Insert, Worksheet All
Alt+Shift+F2 Save File, Save All
Alt+= AutoSum No direct equivalent All
Ctrl+` Toggle Value/Formula display Tools, Options, View, Formulas All
Ctrl+Shift+A Insert argument names into formula No direct equivalent All
Alt+Down arrow Display AutoComplete list None Excel 95
Alt+' Format Style dialog box Format, Style All
Ctrl+Shift+~ General format Format, Cells, Number, Category, General All
Ctrl+Shift+! Comma format Format, Cells, Number, Category, Number All
[email protected] Time format Format, Cells, Number, Category, Time All
Ctrl+Shift+# Date format Format, Cells, Number, Category, Date All
Ctrl+Shift+$ Currency format Format, Cells, Number, Category, Currency All
Ctrl+Shift+% Percent format Format, Cells, Number, Category, Percentage All
Ctrl+Shift+^ Exponential format Format, Cells, Number, Category, All
Ctrl+Shift+& Place outline border around selected cells Format, Cells, Border All
Ctrl+Shift+_ Remove outline border Format, Cells, Border All
Ctrl+Shift+* Select the current region around the active cell. In a PivotTable report, select the entire PivotTable report. Edit, Goto, Special, Current Region All
Ctrl++ Insert Insert, (Rows, Columns, or Cells) Depends on selection All
Ctrl+- Delete Delete, (Rows, Columns, or Cells) Depends on selection All
Ctrl+1 Format cells dialog box Format, Cells All
Ctrl+2 Bold Format, Cells, Font, Font Style, Bold All
Ctrl+3 Italic Format, Cells, Font, Font Style, Italic All
Ctrl+4 Underline Format, Cells, Font, Font Style, Underline All
Ctrl+5 Strikethrough Format, Cells, Font, Effects, Strikethrough All
Ctrl+6 Show/Hide objects Tools, Options, View, Objects, Show All/Hide All
Ctrl+7 Show/Hide Standard toolbar View, Toolbars, Stardard All
Ctrl+8 Toggle Outline symbols None All
Ctrl+9 Hide rows Format, Row, Hide All
Ctrl+0 Hide columns Format, Column, Hide All
Ctrl+Shift+( Unhide rows Format, Row, Unhide All
Ctrl+Shift+) Unhide columns Format, Column, Unhide All
Alt or F10 Activate the menu None All
Ctrl+Tab In toolbar: next toolbar
In a workbook: activate next workbook None Excel 97/2000 +
Shift+Ctrl+Tab In toolbar: previous toolbar
In a workbook: activate previous workbook None Excel 97/2000 +
Tab Next tool None Excel 97/2000 +
Shift+Tab Previous tool None Excel 97/2000 +
Enter Do the command None Excel 97/2000 +
Alt+Enter Start a new line in the same cell. None Excel 97/2000 +
Ctrl+Enter Fill the selected cell range with the current entry. None Excel 97/2000 +
Shift+Ctrl+F Font Drop Down List Format, Cells, Font All
Shift+Ctrl+F+F Font tab of Format Cell Dialog box Format, Cells, Font Before 97/2000
Shift+Ctrl+P Point size Drop Down List Format, Cells, Font All
Ctrl+Spacebar Select the entire column None Excel 97/2000 +
Shift+Spacebar Select the entire row None Excel 97/2000 +
CTRL+/ Select the array containing the active cell.
CTRL+SHIFT+O Select all cells that contain comments.
CTRL+\ In a selected row, select the cells that don't match the formula or static value in the active cell.
CTRL+SHIFT+| In a selected column, select the cells that don't match the formula or static value in the active cell.
CTRL+[ Select all cells directly referenced by formulas in the selection.
CTRL+SHIFT+{ Select all cells directly or indirectly referenced by formulas in the selection.
CTRL+] Select cells that contain formulas that directly reference the active cell.
CTRL+SHIFT+} Select cells that contain formulas that directly or indirectly reference the active cell.
ALT+; Select the visible cells in the current selection.
SHIFT+BACKSPACE With multiple cells selected, select only the active cell.
CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR Selects the entire worksheet.
If the worksheet contains data, CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR selects the current region. CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR a second time selects the entire worksheet.
When an object is selected, CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR selects all objects on a worksheet
Ctrl+Alt+L Reapply the filter and sort on the current range so that changes you've made are included Data, Reapply Excel 2007+
Ctrl+Alt+V Displays the Paste Special dialog box. Available only after you have cut or copied an object, text, or cell contents on a worksheet or in another program. Home, Paste, Paste Special... Excel 2007+

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 23
Feb 27, 2020

I'm hoping that you had these written out somewhere and didn't type this just now lmao

Don't @ me

    • 4
Feb 27, 2020

I'm hoping that you had these written out somewhere and didn't type this just now lmao

haha I didn't type it from memory. I printed it out first, then typed them.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 4
Feb 27, 2020

Someone please save this post for reference?

    • 1
Feb 27, 2020

Bookmark function is your friend ;)

    • 5
    • 3
Feb 29, 2020

wow you can monkey shit the WSO account

    • 1
Feb 28, 2020

Wow... I cannot believe a firm used to operate that way.

Good for you for making those changes, and not to discount your initiative, but that is amateur hour.

Feb 28, 2020

Firm is young. They're a really solid firm and I don't mean to paint them in any negative light.

Don't @ me

Feb 29, 2020

Be careful with pasting links - file names need to be consistent and it'll be difficult to stay straight versioning up in the model etc. Also file size for ppts grow fast af with direct links in to models. Would stick to pasting images for now and when you refresh these files and the direct excel file has changed you may be left with a blank output in ppt

Feb 29, 2020

You're right about that. Those are some problems I ran into early on. Every time the filename changes it's a nightmare trying to update all the links... so I wrote a PPT Macro to basically find and replace the filepath and update them all. We also locked all the sheets in Excel that we don't want to edit... for instance, cash flows that we show in PPT can't be directly edited on the cash flows tab... we edit other places in the model and it pulls to the presentation tab for PPT so it doesn't change.

The file size is just something we deal with. No major issues yet. We just make sure to break links before sending to a client and we only update the links when we would paste images.

Don't @ me

Feb 29, 2020

the problem with indirect is thats its a night mare to audit even with excel add on utilities.
i wish there was an alternative to indirect. i was hoping you could make something through concatenate text to create the reference for tab but to no avail. this would be much better change than xlookup.

Feb 29, 2020

create a VBA macro: GoTo evaluate().address.xlR1C1

Feb 29, 2020

I just use an excel add in it does the job perfectly fine but still not everyone has it and even less people can write VBA code.

Feb 29, 2020

Yeah, just hoping I never run into that problem.

I was excited for XLOOKUP until my VP told us we can't use it becuase clients might be running older versions haha

Don't @ me

Feb 29, 2020

Beware of PPT Referencing to Excel, we actually tried to do it but it significantly increases the ppt size and the opening time for the file (we had to wait like 5 minutes to open 50-slides ppt).

Feb 29, 2020

Yeah same issue when we started... instead of hitting "update all" when opening the file, just select "cancel" and only update when you need to. It's also faster to update the links when you have the Excel file open.

Don't @ me

Mar 6, 2020

Regarding point 2. every place I've ever worked has purchased some kind of software add on that automated this process. (This has only been at Big4s and a boutique mind you).

Software that I've come across includes "Upslide" ( and "Create" (couldn't find the link unfortunately). There are probably countless more though.

Basically, in both cases, the software acts as a plugin in PowerPoint and Excel. You create a dynamic link using the plugin, and every time you change the numbers you just click "update" and your pptx will refresh magically.

It also does the same thing with MS Word.

    • 1
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Mar 6, 2020

Don't @ me

    • 1