VBA and Excel Macros

What exactly is VBA? Is it the same thing as using macros in excel? If so, how necessary is this for ibanking and is it something you are expected to know well before your SA interviews?

Thanks for any help.

  • Nick

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Comments (16)

Aug 11, 2010 - 5:40pm

not necessary...I hear from my friends who are juniors that offers are more based on politics and how well you "fit" with the team and if they want to hang out with you or not, as opposed to how much you know about finance and how technically adept you are...what's funny is i hear the same about S&T, my friends who were on rates/FX desks said that all the VBA programming they did for traders didn't really matter in terms of getting FT offers...all that matters is you sucking up to people and making them "like" you

Aug 11, 2010 - 5:44pm

its a programming language that lets you design complex macros etc by way of writing code. its embedded in excel but can also be used in other circumstances. its def a "nice-to-have" but by no means a must for most of the corporate finance teams in an IB. on the markets side it may be more useful and sometimes even required. i am not sure though. not exactly a markets guy.


Aug 11, 2010 - 10:10pm

VBA and macros in general are a double-edged sword. If you do them well and they are clear and simple, they can save you a lot of time. However, there are many associates and VPs out there who generally do not like seeing macros in models because it is difficult to audit if they themselves are not proficient in scripting VBA commands. The only place I use them consistently is in building data tables so that every time you calculate something in a model, the tables don't recalculate over and over, but even that can be done without the use of VBA/macros.

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Apr 24, 2013 - 3:53pm

I am familiar with macros (used for automating repetitive tasks) and occasionally use them but not so much with VBAs. Have yet to hear anyone mention anything about VBAs on the job so I don't think I am missing out on much. I agree, seems like it is not worth the effort to learn. Most banks have some sort of program like DealMaven with Excel add-ins that can make modeling a lot easier. If you don't have one of those you can create macros to do a lot of the same tasks. I also found a site (maybe from WSO?) that has some handy excel add-ins if you don't have a DealMaven type program.


  • 2
Apr 24, 2013 - 3:54pm

VBA... is Visual Basic for Applications, basically a programing language for excel & other Office applications.

VBA is the same as a macro... When you record a macro, it writes the VBA code for you. But for more advanced needs, you can write the VBA code yourself.

Apr 24, 2013 - 3:55pm

I learned VBA in high school and to be honest I forgot most of it by the time I started working in banking. I can say that you don't need to know it whatsoever to work in excel. At most you can create macros to make your life easier in big models (print area setup and print functions, running multiple case scenerios for output pages, etc.). I've only made a handful of macros in the past few years and everytime I've used the "record macro" function, no straight VBA programming here.

Apr 24, 2013 - 3:56pm

VBA is a programming language that is used to program addins for Office applications. SimpleShortcuts for example is an Excel addin that helps people build financial models. You don't need to know VBA to succeed in i-banking or PE, but you might want to get an Excel addin like Dealmaven Fasttrack, SimpleShortcuts, or TTS macros to make life easier.

Apr 24, 2013 - 3:57pm

I know the question was for IB, but just an FYI, macros and being able to write your own instead of recording one is pretty useful I've found for some of my work as an SA in trading. Really helpful for things like automating the collection of data from websites and matching and sorting information. The few hours it takes me to learn more VB and write the macro saves many many MANY hours of additional mindnumbing repetitive work. I'd highly recommend at least being familiar with macros, if not the VB aspect than the simple record option which writes the code for you (very limited in comparison to writing them yourself though).

Apr 24, 2013 - 3:58pm

I would agree with WxOnWallStreet that knowing VBA is useful for an analyst in trading. I work with a group that is very fundies-oriented and trust me, when you have to run the same report every morning and there's and hour's worth of different reports to run, you appreciate the 'click a button and wait' handiness of a macro.

Apr 24, 2013 - 3:59pm

Any good books or links to read on learning how to write macros and vba. I have zero coding experience but it seems that you really can do so much more once you have a firm understanding o macros and vba.

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Apr 24, 2013 - 4:00pm

A good overview of what macros are:

Haven't done it but here's a short training course by MS:

My advice, record a macro of yourself doing something you would do in excel. Then go into the code of the macro and try to follow along.

For those still in school, I highly reccomend taking at least one computer science/programming course. It really doesn't matter what language you learn, in fact I'd suggest something other than VB. The core fundementals of all computer programming languages are the same. i.e.

Compile-Edit Run
Array References
Mathematical Operations
Conditionals (if-then-else)
Basic Input/Output
Subroutines and Functions

The only thing that changes between languages is the syntax essentially. In a way, learn onel learn em all.

Apr 24, 2013 - 4:02pm

The consensus is that Walkenbach's "Excel 2007 Power Programming with VBA" (or Excel 2003 Power Programming with VBA") is the best book on learning how to code VBA. Having read/used 5-10 books on Excel/VBA this summer, I recommend this book as the best I have come across so far. The best way to learn VBA will be to try coding as you go along.

Benninga's Financial Modeling is fine to thumb through at the bookstore/download via torrent, but it doesn't offer nearly as much bang-for-buck value as Walkenbach.

Note that Walkenbach has a whole set of books: (http://www.Amazon.com/Mr-Spreadsheets-Excel-2007-Library/dp/0470176547/ref=pd_bbs_sr_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1217209065&sr=8-5), and if you have a generous expense account (hopefully not just a buyside perk), you should probably pick this up.

"Professional Excel Development" is the best book at the next level (i.e. after you have finished Walkenbach's Power Programming).

P.S. Keep in mind that I work at a multi-strat HF, so learning VBA may not be as useful for IB, but in my experience VBA adds value whenever you have to spend a lot of time with Excel, and that definitely applies to IB.

Aug 12, 2010 - 1:08am

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