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What Excel Skills are most valuable for Finance and Accounting?

by Oct 28, 2015Accounting

Microsoft Excel is a very powerful tool used for creating spreadsheets and database files. Maintaining excel files can be very beneficial in your career. You should learn the basics of excel and explore it to get greater benefits. Excel cam boost your career in a greater way and can guide you to get more information quickly.

What Is Microsoft Excel?
Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application that creates documents in row and columns and it is composed of individual points on grid that is known as cells. Each cell consists of piece of information in any form like text, formula or numbers. All the cells work together and the arrangement of grids makes it easy to put basic accounting and finance models together. The format of row and column in a spreadsheet is useful for creating “flat files” or database table that contains multiple fields at different piece of data in rows.

What are the benefits of learning Excel?
Excel is used for many different tasks in workplace. If you are working in accounts or finance department of your company, you should know how to use excel. It has an easy interface and advanced capabilities of sorting and filtering and this makes you more productive. There is no numerical analysis done in Excel. As you know about shortcuts and techniques of using Excel effectively, your productivity will naturally increase. Having skills to use Excel opens up new career options for you and you can enjoy better pay.

How to Use Excel Quickly?
There are many options of learning Excel. The cheapest but the most difficult option is to teach yourself from a book. The books are generally not costly and it offers you a comprehensive look to all the features that are included in Microsoft Excel. But many people find it difficult to learn hands on application only by reading a book. Most people choose to go for an expensive option, i.e. the classroom training. Such classes help you to walk through the software and its features but it needs you to take your time off from work and follow your schedule. The best way of learning Excel is to purchase a computer based training course on CD. This way, you get the software and can go through all the lesson as many times you want and at your own pace. There are many benefits of learning Microsoft Excel. You should decide if you want advanced training for your career or just need to explore more options for yourself. The business software can set you apart from all your coworkers and make you more valuable in the job market.
Essential skills for all the finance professionals:

1.    Structured Thinking:
Financial models are such that it requires you to think straight and convert your thinking process to Excel spreadsheets. The first thing that should be taught to people is to have structured thinking. You can practice market size estimation, marketing funnel, deriving right drivers for revenue and cost and many other things. Once you start thinking in a structured way, the models automatically get started. While creating models, you need to have logical flow.

2.    Logically deriving numbers:
Since most of the time you need to spend in implementing model in Excel, you spend a lot of money. If you are comfortable with the tool, you would not take much time for navigating the tool rather than creating the models. It is important to know all the advanced functions of Excel shortcuts, advanced functions and referencing framework. These play a greater role and can help you to implement your thoughts in Excel quickly.

3.    Correct Formatting:
The people would read your model and take some important decisions. If your model is not found to be legible as far as font, navigability and other things are concerned, the model is not of any use. You should know all types of formatting in Excel.

4.    Analysis:
The job of finance professional is to analyze data and come into some conclusion. Each step of analysis and its implementation should be taught to the Finance professionals.

5.    Dash board building:
The final results need to be presented properly. Most time even a good model is rendered useless if they don’t have good dashboard for highlight results to the end users.

Tips and tricks to make data tangible:
Copying and pasting values may be very problematic and it needs unnecessary formatting to be done. If you have data with leading zeros then you can eliminate them by multiplying all content of cell by using copy paste special and multiply functionality. You may also extract data with leading zeros and eliminate them by multiplying all. Use right or mid or left or find functions for extracting data. This can help you to parse out data if you haven’t import. You can import raw CSV data or tab by opening it in Excel and choosing a segment of data in columns. The pivot tables are very powerful and it works wonder for organizing data, sorting it and filtering it for conducting sensitivity analyses.
Financial functions like NPV, IRR and PV:

If you are building P& L or balance sheet, you can use negative numbers that denotes credit and positive numbers that stands for debit. This way, you can sum up both debit and credit and take out the balance. You don’t have to remember the sign of interest that should be used and consider it to be fully credit. Learn basic macro creation and editing for saving time and make frequent tasks automatic. All these things vary from job to job. Some core skills like Vlookup, index and match and many others are used to become a strong Excel user. You may also separate input data from all the calculations. Paste each input data source and make all calculations in the other sheet. Every user should know how to use conditional logical formulas that contains – “if, and, or”. Making charts with multiple layers, array formulas, pivot tables and named ranges are some of the things that a professional should know.