How to lookup Names with Spelling Errors (All kinds of spelling differences, Approximate Match)

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How to lookup and have an exact match between two columns where the spellings are different with all kinds of spelling mistakes, spaces and characters? In this video, I will show how you can use Excel fuzzy lookup tool to solve this time consuming problem.

Here is the Link to download the Excel Add-in called Fuzzy Lookup:

Often you find yourself comparing two reports or data sets where the names or text strings are similar but do not match exactly. As a human, you can tell that they are the same, but you cannot look up data using the exact match features of Vlookup or Xlookup. In this case, the Fuzzy lookup tool comes in handy. In this video, I show you how to install and use the Add-in to lookup Company names, or Customer Names from two separate data sources, so that you dont have to spend time manually finding the names and then copying and pasting the values from one table to the other.

I have used this method when trying to compare sales reports from two different sources which have the customer names, one report has the freight costs by customer and the other report has the sales by customer. When I try to bring the two together by using a vlookup or an Xlookup, I am unable to do that because the names do not exactly match. In addition, the differences in spelling do not follow a set pattern, so I cannot even use wildcard matches or be creative about using additional Excel formulae to help with the lookup. In this case technology becomes really useful. My recommendation is to use the Fuzzy lookup tool or add-in which can be downloaded from the Microsoft website and installed in Excel. This is such a time saver. I will show in the video the setup of the tables to use the fuzzy logic add-in as well as the use of the “Similarity threshold” to help lookup majority of the company names in the example. By the way, the sample data includes Revenues and Net Profits for 25 of US top Fortune 500 companies by revenue. You can also download the sample Excel from the link provided. Hope this video helps!



Course: If you would like to learn in detail, how to calculate sales variances and the impact they have on sales $, profit $ and profit margin %, and how to explain performance vs budget and prior periods, click on the link for a detailed video course (at a special price). You will also learn how to analyse and present the results of the variances to management and will be able to download solved variance calculation Excel templates.

Hope you find the information in the video helpful. If you like to watch more videos in accounting, financial analysis and controller ship, videos that help you directly in doing your job, subscribe to my channel. If you liked the video, I would love if you could LIKE it and leave a comment. If you have any questions or feedback, again leave a comment. Lets stay connected at #learnaccountingfinance #lookupnames #spellingdifference

How to calculate Selling price Cost, Margin, Discount and Rebates (All Considered)


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How do you calculate selling price of a product with cost and margin, while taking into account discount and rebates offered to the customer. If you have tried this calculation of a selling price of a product which requires not only the calculation of markup as you only have margin %, but also complicating the calculation are the discount and rebate factors, you probably ended up seeing a Circular Reference error in Excel. This is because the Selling price needs to be calculated, but discount and rebate / commission are also calculated based on the selling price. In this video, I will show you how computers and Excel can help.

Here is the Video …

Microsoft Excel comes with a built in Solver add-in that does the calculation for you. The Solver Add-in is an advanced version of the Goal Seek function and can even consider constraints to the calculation. All you need to do is to set up the product cost calculation template in a way that the Solver Add-in can do the calculation for you. If you had to do it on your own, you would have to use the trial and error method. But with the Excel Solver Add-in, you don’t have to worry, as it is very quick and easy to calculate selling price of a product so that you can achieve the target margin as well as consider discount and rebates and commissions (if applicable). So, if you are provided with, say discount of 1% and rebates of 3% that the customer would usually be able to claim, you can consider this in the product pricing decisions, and with the help of this calculation, you can calculate exactly the price you need to sell for, in order to still achieve the margin % that was originally required.

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How to use Excel XLOOKUP Function – 7 tips for Reporting and Analysis using XLOOKUP


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Learn how to use Excel XLOOKUP and what this function can do for you. In this video, I will share 7 practical ways in which you can use the new XLOOKUP function which serves as a perfect replacement for both VLOOKUP and XLOOKUP.

We start with a real life work situation where you have to respond with data requests quickly. The first situation being where the General Manager is asking for Sales for specific customers within 5 minutes. Not only do you provide him the information requested within 5 minutes, but you go above and beyond to provide additional information that he may be interested in. In the second example, your Manager is asking you to complete and send the sales commission file based on annual sales and commission plan. You use XLOOKUP Match mode functionality to quickly respond to the Manager with the completed sales commission report.

In the third example, you have been asked by the Purchasing Manager to provide him help with pulling the most recent purchase price from a long list of materials and purchase history. You use the Search Mode argument of the XLOOKUP function to reverse the order of the data and provide by material SKU, the most recent purchase price and earn bragging rights.

In the fourth example, the external auditors have asked you to provide information related to customers, in a layout which is the opposite of how your sales data is set up. Knowing well that XLOOKUP can replace horizontal lookup or HLOOKUP, you quickly pull the information in the requested format and respond to auditor’s request.

Finally I share a tip that I have personally been using since the VLOOKUP days which would help you avoid XLOOKUP error, when by mistake the data ranges (lookup array and return array) are not aligned. This tip actually saves a lot of time as well and has been one of my favorite tips.

If you have more questions, or would like to learn about advanced ways of using XLOOKUP, please leave a comment. If you enjoy the information provided in the video, please do not forget to press Thumbs Up

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6 Advanced Pivot Table tricks for Financial Analysis and Reporting


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Microsoft Excel pivot tables are a great tool for simplifying data analysis and reporting. It pays off to learn these advanced pivot table tips and tricks as it can save you hours in time, and also increases your accuracy. The advanced pivot table tips and tricks are a must know for everyone involved in analyzing data or creating and presenting reports. Here are the tips and tricks that are shared in this video…

  1. Apply custom filter using Grouping

2. Grouping to create Data Range or buckets

3. Grouping Dates using Pivot tables

4. Creating Pivot table calculated fields

5. Combining and analyzing two reports in different formats

6. Pivot table slicers and slicer connections

We will start with the powerful grouping function available with the pivot tables. We will look at different examples of grouping, including custom grouping when you want to create a new group that is not available in the source data. After creating custom grouping, you will be able analyze data at the new group level which is extremely useful.

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How to calculate Purchase Price Variance (PPV) and Exchange rate variance, and track accounting entries in SAP

Lets learn what is Purchase Price Variance and Exchange rate variance, how is it calculated and how can we track purchase price variance and exchange rate accounting entries by using transaction codes in SAP. By the way, if you haven’t already, start following our blog and YouTube channel LearnAccountingFinance, so that you can stay up to date with practical information and training (knowledge you can use immediately at your work). This information is also available in video format. You can click on the link to watch the video.

This is a detailed article on purchase price variance, where you will understand first, with the help of a simple example, what is purchase price variance, how it is calculated and recorded, and then we will follow a trail of accounting entries in the SAP system for a real example with purchase price variance and exchange rate variance entries. We will discuss all the transaction codes you can use in SAP to follow the accounting entries for goods receipt, invoice receipt and the related purchase price variance entries in SAP system.

Note: If you would like to learn in detail, how to calculate sales variances and the impact they have on sales $, profit $ and profit margin %, and how to explain performance vs budget and prior periods, click here for a detailed video course (at a special price for readers of this post) showing exactly how this is done. You will also learn how to analyse and present the results of the variances to management and will be able to download solved variance calculation Excel templates.

What is Purchase Price Variance?

Purchase price variance (PPV) is the difference between the standard price of a purchased material and its actual price.

Purchase price variance = (Actual price – Standard price) x Quantity purchased

Lets understand what is standard price first. Many organizations, specially manufacturing organizations, use standard costing system to measure and value their inventory. What it means is that, the cost of inventory is calculated based on a standard cost model, with information such as prices, Bills of Material (BOM) and recipes defined in the model to calculate the total standard cost. The Cost Model is used to calculate the standard cost of finished goods. However, an important element of calculating the finished goods cost is the raw material and packaging costs. To calculate standard costs, prices for raw material and packaging materials are also predefined, often based on the most recent information available on the prices of those materials. For example, if a Cost Accountant or Controller is preparing or updating the Standard Cost Model in the month of September, he/she will be required to list all the raw and packaging materials in the Cost Model with standard prices. In order to determine the standard price, he or she will take a look at the most recent invoices to estimate what the price of the material is likely to be. This price will be considered as the Standard cost of those raw materials and packaging materials.

In SAP, the standard prices are loaded and the system then has the standard cost of each raw and packaging material. However, in real life, things change and so do prices. So when, a new Purchase Order is issued, the price of a raw material may change from what was originally set as standard. This generates a variance and a need to record the variance in the system. Lets take a look at the accounting entries recorded in this scenario.

Accounting entries for Purchase Price Variance (in SAP ERP).

To understand the accounting entries involved with purchase price variance, we will take a simple example (see below).

Purchase price variance for raw material A

In our example, we purchase Raw Material A. Before we purchase the material, the standard cost of the material is already maintained in the system. The standard cost of the material is $10 per KG. The purchasing agent negotiated the price with the supplier and the current price the supplier has offered is now $12. So, the Purchasing agent maintained the price of $12 in the Purchase Order (in SAP). Later on, we received the invoice, and it seems that the supplier lowered the actual price on the invoice to $11. What accounting entries will we see in SAP for this scenario?

Accounting entries when material is received (GR/IR) – The first accounting entry will be made in SAP system when Raw material A is physically received by the company. Lets say 5 KGs of raw material A are received by the Receiving officer at the warehouse/store. At this point, the receiving officer records a Goods receipt (GR) in the system. This generates accounting entries as the company now owns inventory. The price that SAP will use to receive the material is the Purchase Order (PO) price of $12 (because at this point, invoice is not received and PO price is the latest price available in the system). However, since the company uses standard costing system, inventory is always recorded at the predefined standard cost (which is $10 in this case). So the accounting entries will be:

Accounting entries for purchase of raw material in SAP (Goods receipt)

As you can see, raw material inventory is debited (increase) by $50 ($10 x 5 KG) because inventory is maintained at the standard cost. However, the amount payable to the supplier at this point is $60 ($12 x 5KG). Since, an official invoice is not received from the supplier, SAP records the amount payable in a GR/IR account (Goods receipt/invoice receipt). This is a temporary holding place for the amount payable and is fully offset when the actual invoice is received.

However, we see a difference of $10, between the standard cost of material and the amount payable to the supplier at this point calculated as:

(Actual price – Standard price) x Quantity purchased

or ($12-$10) x 5KG = $10

This difference in standard cost and Purchase Order price is recorded in the purchase price variance account as a debit (showing expense because the PO price is higher than standard price).

Accounting entries when Invoice is received – After goods receipt is recorded, an invoice is received by the Accounting Department from the supplier. The Accounts Payable Officer finds the Purchase Order related to the invoice in the SAP system and records the invoice against the Purchase Order. Usually, the invoice price is the same as the Purchase Order price. In that case the GR/IR account is offset against the Supplier payable account and no additional purchase price variance is recorded. The accounting entry would be

Debit: GR/IR Account $60, and Credit: Vendor account $60.

However in our case, the invoice price is also different from the Purchase Order. The Invoice price is now $11 per KG (may be as a reduction in price offered by the supplier). The accounting entries in this case will be as follows:

Accounting entries for purchase of raw material in SAP (Invoice received)

As you can see from the above accounting entries, the GR/IR account is fully reversed with a debit as the supplier invoice is now received and we do not need the GR/IR accrual once the invoice is recorded. The supplier account is credited with $55 based on invoice price ($11 x 5 KG). There is a difference again between the GR/IR reversal and the supplier payable balance of $5 calculated as ($12 – $11) x 5 KG = $5. This difference is recorded as a gain or credit to the purchase price variance account because the invoice price is lower than the accrual already recorded in GR/IR account.

On an overall basis, the net purchase price variance recorded is $5. Initially, when the material was received, a loss of $10 was recorded. Later when the invoice was received at a lower price than PO, a gain of $5 was recorded. As a result, a net purchase price variance loss of $5 was recorded, which makes sense because the difference between standard cost and actual cost of the 5 KG material purchased was $5, and therefore, in the end, the actual cost of purchasing the material is recorded in the books of the company.

Purchase Price Variance (PPV)

Real Example, Purchase price variance entries in SAP System

Now, we will see how to follow the purchase price variance transactions for a material in SAP. There are multiple ways of doing this, but we will take an example where, lets say, you know the material you want to track the variance of. So you start with the material and then follow the variance trail. The first step is to open the “Purchasing documents for material” window by using transaction code ME2M. Here you enter the material number and click on Execute button to see a list of all purchase documents related to this material (see below).

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The output may look something like this (see below – the actual output screen layout depends on the layout selected in the “Scope of List” field for you system). A typical layout can be see below:

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List of purchase documents

You can see information such as Purchase order number, supplier name, material number and description, purchase price and currency, quantity ordered, quantity still to be delivered and still to be invoiced. Now you can double click on the Purchase Order number of your choice to open up the Purchase Order window. In this case, we double click on the purchase order number 4500212814 as follows:

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This will open the purchase order window (t-code ME23N) as follows:

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Example Purchase Order History

Accounting entry in SAP at the time of Goods Receipt

As you can see in the above picture, the Purchase Order price was entered at 623.28 USD per 1,000 KG of material 1003975. On June 25th, 2019, 16,790 KG of material were received by the receiver into the SAP system. This generated accounting entries for receiving material into the system. You can trace the accounting entries by clicking on the material document number for goods receipt 5002189751.

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This will open the material document view window as follows:

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You can click on the FI Documents button to see the accounting entries that were posted in the system at the time this transaction took place. The following window will open once you click on “FI documents” button, and select “Accounting documents” in the next window. The next screen will look like this

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Accounting entries for goods receipt (GR) in SAP

What you see above is very similar to the raw material A example we looked at earlier. This reflects the goods receipt accounting entries. As we discussed, inventory is always recorded at the standard cost (already maintained in the system). In the above entry, you can see, inventory account (47000) is debited with the standard cost for 16,790 KG of raw material 1003975. You can see the standard cost of the material by opening up transaction code MM03, selecting the material number 1003975 and then heading to Costing 2 tab as follows:

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As you can see the standard cost of the material is CAD 1,004.24 per 1000 KG (the standard cost was maintained in Canadian dollars). This means inventory should be recorded at the value of CAD 16,861.19 ($1,004.24 / 1000 x 16,790 KG). We see that this is exactly the amount recorded in the account 47000 in the accounting entry above.

Now, the other side of the entry is the GR/IR account 186200 Tr Pay Accrued. As we discussed, at the time of goods receipt, the account is credited with the Purchase Order price. the Purchase Order price was maintained in US Dollars. You can see in the accounting entry above, the account is credited with USD 10,464.87, which is exactly the price per Purchase Order times the quantity purchased (USD 623.28 / 1000 x 16,790 KG = USD 10,464.87). Since, this is a Canadian company with local currency of CAD, the system converts this amount into Canadian dollars 14,162.48, based on the exchange rate maintained in the system. With this entry we now have a difference between the amount debited (inventory account) and the amount credited (accrued payable account). This difference represents the difference between the standard cost of the material and the purchase order price of the same material. The difference also included an element of exchange rate difference, because the rate used to calculate standard cost may have been different from the exchange rate maintained at the time of the transaction. The difference is CAD 2,698.71, and is recorded in the purchase price variance account (in this case, account 400600). This is a gain because the standard cost of the material was much higher than the purchase price, which means that the material is much cheaper now compared the standard cost originally maintained. Here is the accounting entry screen again:

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Accounting entry in SAP at the time of recording Invoice

Now, we take a look at the accounting entry at the time of receiving and recording the invoice. We go back to the Purchase Order document screen in the Purchase Order history tab. We click on the invoice receipt document now.

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Clicking on the invoice receipt document will open up the display document window (t-code FB03) which looks like this …

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Here you can see some important financial information including the amount of invoice, vendor information and tax details. To see the accounting entries you can click on the “Follow-On Documents” button, and then select “Accounting Documents” to see the accounting entries. You will see a screen that looks like this …

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Now you may have noticed that the invoice was received for two purchase transactions, and therefore the total value of the invoice covers both transactions. However, we are following only the first transaction with receipt of 16,790 KG. So, in this window, we will try to isolate the entries only to that one transaction.

In the accounting entry above, you can see, since the invoice received was the same amount as the purchase order price with some minor rounding difference, no purchase price variance is recorded. The GR/IR account is fully offset (made zero) by debiting with the same amount as was originally posted at the time of good receipt, while the vendor account is credited with the invoice price converted at the new exchange rate now available in the system.

Exchange rate Variance:

The CAD to USD exchange rate available in the system when goods receipt was recorded was 0.73982. However, when the invoice was received, the rate had changed to 0.76362. This resulted in an exchange rate variance of CAD 458.03 (calculated as [(0.73982 – 0.76362) x USD 10,465] (adjusted for rounding difference 0.13 USD). This is a gain or credit, because the Canadian Dollar has strengthened between the goods receipt date and the invoice date (and therefore the company has to pay a lesser amount in Canadian dollars to the vendor, then was originally recorded at the time of goods receipt. The vendor account is credited with the amount of the invoice USD 10,465 converted into Canadian dollars at the exchange rate of 0.76362. If we only had one transaction in the invoice, the amount credited would have been CAD 13,704.45. However, the amount credited in this case is CAD 31,260.63 because we have another transaction included in the invoice. So, in this way, you have been able to follow the complete trail of accounting entries for recording a purchase of material in SAP.

Note: If you would like to learn in detail, how to calculate sales variances and the impact they have on sales $, profit $ and profit margin %, and how to explain performance vs budget and prior periods, click here for a detailed video course (at a special discounted price for readers of this post) showing exactly how this is done. You also learn how to analyse and present the results of the variances to management.

We hope you found this information valuable and it clears some of the confusion around purchase price variance calculations and accounting. If you have any questions and comments, let us know in the comments section. This information is also available in video format on Youtube. You can click on the link to watch the video now.

Are you an accounting and finance professional looking to improve your financial analysis skills? Make sure you connect with us by subscribing to the email list. We will be sharing practical tips and advice that will help you transform you career this year. Click here to subscribe to our email list.

We also have a YouTube channel (called LearnAccountingFinance) with helpful accounting and finance, Microsoft Excel and Finance career related videos. You can find our channel by clicking on the link LearnAccountingFinance. Keep you comments and feedback coming!

Commonly used financial terms every new Financial Analyst and Accountant should know!

In this article, we will describe and explain some of the terms most commonly used during discussions of financial performance and business meetings. Understanding what these terms means is essential if you are a new or potential Corporate Finance professional such as a Financial Analyst in the FP&A department, or even a new Accounting and Finance professional. It helps significantly in the job interview process as well if you are interviewing for a job in such Finance roles as you are expected to know what they mean and demonstrate experience of their use.

The key financial and business terms we will discuss in this article are as follows:

  1. MTD, QTD, YTD
  2. Plan, Budget, Forecast, LE
  3. Gross Profit, Net Profit, EBIT and EBITDA
  4. Variance, Favorable and unfavorable variance
  5. YoY, vs LY, vs Bud

MTD – represents Month to Date. The ‘To date’ captions are usually used to represent financial performance or activities for a period of time. MTD will always be followed by the name of a month e.g. “MTD August” means results or performance from the start of August (i.e. 1st August) to the current date of the month of August. However, MTD is more commonly used to refer to the entire month, and can also be used to refer to a month that has already finished. For example, if you are currently in the month of August, then ‘MTD April’ will represent the financial performance for the entire month of April.

QTD – represents Quarter to Date. QTD represents the performance from the start of the Quarter to the current date. E.g. if the company’s financial or fiscal year runs from January to December, and you are looking at the performance of Q4 (ie October to December), QTD would represent performance for the period starting from October 1st to the current date. If the current date is December 15th, then QTD will represent the period from Oct 1st to Dec 15th (roughly 2.5 months).

YTD – represents Year to Date. This term refers to the financial performance, KPIs or activities from the the start of the year to the current date. Again, most commonly, this term is used to refer to the period from the start of year to the end of the most recent month. Similar to MTD, YTD is also followed by month. So, for example, “YTD March” refers to the results related to the period starting from the 1st of January and finishing on March 31st. It is important to remember that the fiscal year or reporting year of some companies may not be the standard January to December period. For example, for a company, the financial reporting year may start from July and end in June of the next year. In this case, the YTD period will start from July, and in this case, YTD September will only reflect the performance for the three months period from July to September.

Note: If you would like to learn in detail, how to calculate sales variances and the impact they have on sales $, profit $ and profit margin %, and how to explain performance vs budget and prior periods, click here for a detailed video course (at a special price for readers of this post) showing exactly how this is done. You will also learn how to analyse and present the results of the variances to management and will be able to download solved variance calculation Excel templates.

Plan or Budget – Most companies have an annual budget cycle, where well before the start of the year, an extensive and thorough exercise is conducted to plan and quantify the expected (or desired) financial results of the next year. The final outcome of the exercise is called “Budget” or “Plan”, and is represented in the form of budgeted income statement, budgeted balance sheet, and often a budgeted cash flow statement. However, a lot of detail may be available as back up to the numbers reflected in these budgeted financial statements. For budgeted income statement, it is common to start with YTD actual performance of the current year, and then add forecast for the rest of year. The full year forecast (including YTD actual numbers) for the current year then becomes the basis for the next year budget. Budgeted balance sheet and budgeted cash flow statements follow the budgeted income statement with additional assumptions for the budget year.

Forecast – The budget or plan is prepared usually once a year. However, things change quickly, therefore many organizations have forecasts in place as well. A forecast is an estimate of the financial performance, but is typically less extensive and thorough when compared with the budget exercise. The frequency of forecasting also varies. Some companies revise forecasts every month, while others may revise them every quarter or even every six months. It is important to note that while forecasts are revised frequently, the budget remains the same. Therefore, when comparing actual results, often the comparison is done both against the Plan (Budget) as well as the current forecast. This is because budget is not rendered completely irrelevant as a result of the availability of a Forecast. Some bonuses and commissions might still be linked to the original budget, and therefore keeping an eye on the performance vs budget is important.

LE – represents Latest Estimate. This term is used to define the most recently communicated or approved estimate of financial performance, specially related to sales. It is similar to a “forecast”, but different in that a forecast is usually submitted at the start of a quarter or a month, but latest estimate can be provided in the middle of a month or quarter as well. A typical example would be, for example at the start of the month of January, a sales forecast is submitted, lets say of $100,000 for the month. However, every Monday, the forecast is reviewed, and then based on new information, the forecast for the month is revised. Lets say, on the 15th of January, based on actual sales so far and information provided from Sales team, it now appears that sales for the month of January by the end of the month will be $120,000. This will be presented in the form of Latest Estimate (LE). So the forecast is still $100,000, but the latest estimate is now $120,000. Usually, a separate column is used to reflect latest estimate next to budget, forecast or prior year actual numbers.

Note: Not all organizations use Latest estimate, and often the term Forecast is used interchangeably with latest estimate.

Gross Profit – Gross Profit can be calculated with the following formula:

Gross Profit = Revenue – Cost of goods/services sold

where revenue represents the proceeds from the sale of products or services, and Cost of goods/services sold represents the cost of producing or procuring the goods, or in the case service, the cost of rendering the service related to the revenue earned.

What is important is that for the calculation of gross profit, other expenses required to operate the business (also known as Operating expenses) are not deducted from revenue. Gross profit only looks at the profit when considering costs of product or service, and not the operating costs of business. Here is a video I created explaining Gross profit, and the difference between Gross profit and Net profit in more detail…

Net Profit – Net Profit considers all the costs including cost of operating business such as selling, general and admin costs including taxes and interests etc. So, Net profit can be calculated with the formula below:

Net Profit = Gross Profit – Operating costs – interest and taxes

or Net Profit = Revenue – Cost of goods/services sold – Operating costsinterest and taxes

Net profit is also referred to as the bottom line, as this is literally found at the bottom of the income statement, and also reflects the overall net profitability of the business.

FYI: Revenue is often referred to as “Top line” as most income statements start with Revenue at the top.

EBIT – represents Earnings Before Interest and Tax, and is a very commonly used measure of the financial performance EBIT reflects the net profit or net income of a business excluding a) interest and b) tax expense, and can be represented with the formula:

EBIT = Net Profit plus (Interest and Tax expense)

What is the importance or use of EBIT? EBIT simply shows you the operational performance of a business before considering interest and tax expense. Think of it this way … if you are an investor looking to invest in a company, you are interested in knowing the EBIT from operations of a company because the interest and tax expenses may not remain the same when you buy the business. You may have extra cash available and might not need the same level of borrowing as the existing business, or the taxation rules that apply to you may be completely different. By looking at EBIT, you can tell exactly what a business can make from its operations on its own before factors such as interest and tax are taken into account.

EBITDA – represents Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization. In calculating EBITDA, we remove depreciation and amortization expenses in addition to interest and tax expenses. Depreciation and amortization are often referred to as ‘non-cash’ expenses. This is because, the actual outlay of cash has often already taken place in the past. Depreciation is a systematic allocation of the cost of fixed assets over the useful life of the asset. So, for example, if a building is purchased at the cost of $1 million, and the useful life of the building is determined to be 25 years. Although the total cost of purchase ($1 million) may have been paid in year 1, a portion of the cost will be recorded in the income statement every year till the completion of the 25 years. Similarly, amortization is the allocation of cost of intangible periods over a pre-defined period of time.

Why is EBITDA important? When looking at the net profitability of a business, depreciation and amortization create two problems; 1) timing difference between the actual cash flow and the recording of expense in the income statement (as in the example above), and 2) different companies my use different methods or assumptions when calculating depreciation and amortization. As a result of these problems, it is often a good idea to take a look at EBITDA, specially when comparing two or more companies for their operational performance. EBITDA helps you compare the performance of companies by excluding the impact of financial, accounting and taxation decisions.

YOY – represents Year over Year. This usually represents a comparison of prior year to current year. You will hear the phrase ‘Year over year growth’ or ‘year over year decline’. A YoY growth of 2% in sales e.g, represents that sales have increased by 2% vs last year. The formula for this will be:

YoY Sales Growth = (Current year Sale Prior year sale ) / Prior Year Sale

However, the calculation does not need to be for the entire 12 months period. You can also have YoY growth or decline for a period of three months, six months or any number of months or days. For example, you may compare the sales of January to March period of last year with the same period (January to March) of the current year. The key is to compare the same number of months, when doing this comparison.

Variance – Variance simply represents difference. It can represent difference from target, difference of previous performance, difference from estimate or expectation and difference from budget.

Unfavorable Variance – For example, if the target for a sales representative for a month was to make a 100 sales of a given product. but the actual sales he or she made in that month turned out to be 90, the variance in this case is -10. It is denoted by a minus or negative sign because it is an unfavorable variance. This is because the more a sales representative can sell, the better it is for the company as well as the sales representative. Therefore, selling less than target is an unfavorable variance and is a negative situation denoted by a negative sign.

Favorable Variance – If, however the actual sales were 105 units, this would be a favorable situation and the variance would be represented by a positive sign, being +5 units.

Note that the higher the sales or income vs target, the more favorable the variance is. However, the higher the expenses are vs target the more unfavorable the variance, as expenses have an unfavorable impact on the profitability of a company.

vs LY and vs Bud – vs LY represents Versus Last Year (often also referred to as versus prior year), and vs Bud represents Versus Budget. Both of these terms are used to compare against actual current year performance. So, for example, vs LY would represent the difference between actual results this year, and the results for the same period last year. Similarly, vs Bud will represent the difference between actual results this year, and the amount budgeted for the current year. As an example, if actual revenue for current year was $10,000, budgeted revenue for current year was $12,000 and revenue from last year was $7,000. Then, in this case variance vs last year is +$3,000 (because actual sales in the current year are higher) and variance vs budget is -$2,000 (because actual sales in the current year are below the budgeted amount).

Are you an accounting and finance professional looking to improve your financial analysis skills? Make sure you connect with us by subscribing to the email list. We will be sharing practical tips and advice that will help you transform you career this year. Click here to subscribe to our email list.

We also have a YouTube channel (called LearnAccountingFinance) with helpful accounting and finance, Microsoft Excel and Finance career related videos. You can find our channel by clicking on the link LearnAccountingFinance.

Make these 4 Changes to Your Resume before you apply for your next Job

Your resume or CV is your gateway for landing jobs. In most cases, you apply by submitting your resume. If you do not have a job, second to networking with the right people, updating your resume is the most important thing you can do. It is worth spending a lot more time than you already have. But what is wrong with your resume? Why does nobody contact you after you have applied.

The Mindset of Hiring Managers

When I did not know what goes on behind the scenes, I was so upset with not getting any responses from the employers that I started believing that most of the job postings are fake. But that is not true. Unfortunately, in the field of Accounting and Finance, despite many open vacancies, the number of applicants for each job is usually very high. As a result the only option left with the hiring managers, whether from Finance or HR function, is to quickly skim through the resumes and shortlist candidates. Do you know what this means? This means they are looking to eliminate candidates first before they start really going through the resumes in more detail to see if the candidate is the right fit. This is why tailoring your resume to each job posted is so important. Here are my 3 tips on tailoring your resume that will make it stick, and lead to an interview call.

1) Be Selective

Let me suggest to you here that despite your keenness on landing any and every job interview, you need to be selective as well. Just like the hiring managers, you should be able to eliminate jobs postings that do not seem relevant to your experience. Guard your energy level when applying for jobs. From the available list of job postings you should be able to short list jobs that you think are at least a 75% match with your experience and skills. I am not saying that you do not apply on job postings that are under 75% match, they can be part of your second round, once you are caught up with all the 1st grade matches. In the world of abundant applicants, quality and uniqueness is the key.

2) First things First

Once you have identified the jobs, read the description slowly and try to create a mental picture of what the role looks like. What are the challenges that the current employers are facing? What would be there ideal candidate for this role? Then start listing the experience, skills and achievements that match the requirement. Make sure to list the most important skills for the job first. The first few seconds of reading your resume are the most crucial so that you do not become part of the elimination list. If they read the first few lines of your resume, chance that they will read the rest of it increases dramatically, and so do the chances of you being called for interview.

3) Add examples, stats and numbers

Once you have the mental picture of the job requirements, you know exactly which of your experiences, skills and examples you need to highlight early in your resume so that it lights up the tired eyes of your recruiters or hiring managers. For example, if the role is related to the manufacturing industry, and you have worked for a manufacturing company as well as a retail and and a service firm, you know they will be most interested in your manufacturing experience. I can even predict that if you get an interview call, they will be asking questions mostly about your time and experience in the manufacturing company.

So, you need to highlight the same experience. Your resume will be heavy on your manufacturing experience. Not only that, even your experience details for retail and service industry should highlight skills that are similar to, or transferable to the manufacturing industry. Add numbers and details. If you helped the company save costs. Don’t just say that! Mention how you did that and how much cost you saved. For example you can state on your resume; “helped save $300,000 by identifying vendor billing errors over a period of three months” (true story by the way!). It does not really matter if the amount is small. It shows that you care and are always looking to add value to your organization which makes you stand out from the crowd. If you got promoted quickly, mention that. If you received a special award or recognition for your performance, mention that. Whatever is true and can make you stand out without sounding overly arrogant, you should include in your resume with examples and numbers.

4) Always include a carefully written cover letter

I have never submitted a resume without a cover letter. Even if the job posting clearly asks for a two page resume, my two page resume will always be followed by a cover letter. Ideally, the cover letter should be the first page the hiring managers or recruiters should see. A well written cover letter can make all the difference. Generally, the resume is very rigid and restricted in the quantity and type of information you can include in it.

A cover letter can take the form of a conversation though and that is where lies its power. I do not recommend the cover letter being longer than a single page. But you can summarize your most important strengths and skills, directly related to the job in the cover letter. The cover letter should be written in such a way that if someone does not even read your resume, they know what you bring to the table. This does not mean you summarize all your skills, experience and qualifications on the cover letter. The cover letter is all about exactly what you have determined to be the most important skills and experience required based on reading the job posting. Use formatting such as bold and italics to guide the eye of the recruiter to the most important and interesting facts about you.

Note: If you would like to learn in detail, how to calculate sales variances and the impact they have on sales $, profit $ and profit margin %, and how to explain performance vs budget and prior periods, click here for a detailed video course (at a special discounted price for readers of this post) showing exactly how this is done. You also learn how to analyse and present the results of the variances to management.

In order to make the cover letter stand out, I have often included remarks, or comments received during my previous employments. For example, once while I was a Senior Financial Analyst, the CFO of the organization remarked, “you have raised the bar in the FP&A department”. Guess what? this phrase is a permanent fixture, typed in bold format, in all of my cover letters. By doing this, the reader gets intrigued and likes to read more on the cover letter. Once you have there attention for 15 seconds, you are probably off of their elimination list and the likelihood of them calling you for interview also increases significantly. You can also include similar statements or remarks in your cover letter, as long as they are true.

I hope these 4 tips that I have shared with you will help you significantly in getting your dream job quickly, as they helped me when I first learnt and applied them. Leave a comment and let me know about your experience.

I have a YouTube channel with helpful accounting and finance, Excel and career related videos. You can find my channel by clicking on the link LearnAccountingFinance.

If you would like to be notified of my new articles and video posts, make sure you join my email list by clicking here and subscribing to my email list. Lets connect! All the best!

How to make Memorable Finance Presentations every time!

Are you about to make a Finance presentation? Is it about the financial performance of your company? or is it a business review? Don’t worry! In this article, you will learn exactly how to make your Financial presentations memorable. You can use headings in this article as your checklist for making presentations. Check off all the items during your financial presentation, and you will be making great presentations consistently.

In order to make a Finance presentation, or any presentation, you need to consider the following three key ingredients:


  1. Yourself
  2. Your presentation / Slide
  3. Your audience

1. Yourself

1a. Your Purpose – Story Telling!

Before you even start collecting all the data, charts and information, understand that you have one purpose for your presentation. You will be telling a story. This will save you countless hours of collecting and organizing unnecessary information, that goes into slides that you later have to eliminate from your presentation. This happens a lot. You could use this time to add so much more value. Having a story telling mindset gives you direction and focus.

But what does story telling mean, when it comes to financial presentations? It means “what happened?”, “what does it mean?” and “whats next?”. Most accounting and finance professionals stop at the what happened stage. This is good information, but it leaves the audience unfulfilled. They need closure. And that comes in the form of what does it mean? and what should be done next?.

For example, you mention in your presentation that sales have increased by $50,000 year over year. This reflects what happened. First, you can add a little more detail to what happened by explaining, for example, that $40,000 or 80% of the total increase is a direct result of price increase for a major customer, while the remaining $10,000 or 20% resulted from increased quantity sold overall. To explain what it means, you can highlight that the business is growing in the Northern region and one of your largest customers has agreed to increased pricing. This may mean there is room to increase prices to customers at least in the Northern region. Now, for what’s next, you can suggest reviewing prices for other customers in the region, and also looking at how the price increase was negotiated for this customer, so that it can be replicated for other customers.

You will be really telling the story if you can add a few personal details. For example, in the case of the sales price increase, may be one of the sales rep has worked exceptionally hard, or may be a new sales rep joined the team, and you can share some details of their performance for the year that should help motivate other sales team members as well.

Note: If you would like to learn in detail, how to calculate sales variances and the impact they have on sales $, profit $ and profit margin %, and how to explain performance vs budget and prior periods, click here for a detailed video course (at a special discounted price for readers of this post) showing exactly how this is done. You also learn how to analyse and present the results of the variances to management.

1b. Preparation and Self Confidence

Once you understand that the main purpose of almost all of your presentations is telling stories, you know how to prepare. Look for information that supports a story you are trying to tell. If you do not know what story to tell, let the data guide you. Here are a few tips for boosting self confidence before presenting financial results:

  • Practice presenting. This is a simple way to get better at presenting. You can even practice at your home. Use a camera to record yourself presenting. You will learn so much about your presenting style and what needs to be improved. Record yourself presenting multiple times, each time trying to fix areas you identified. One of the issues you will notice is that you are speaking too fast. Slow down! and see how dramatically it improves your presentation.
  • Exercise! you should exercise every day any way. However, on the day of your presentation, work out a little. It helps calm you down and feel good. It could be as simple as a short 10 minutes run around the block.
  • Be ahead of schedule! Get into the meeting room or presentation hall early and test the equipment, such as projector and microphone etc. You do not want to be scrambling to fix audio and video issues with your audience waiting in the room. This will give you a very shaky start.
  • Use strong body language postures before the presentation to make you feel confident. Research suggests that two minutes of power posing for example, standing tall with arms wide open, or standing like super man with hands on your hips dramatically improves your confidence. I have personally tried this and it has worked really well for me.

1c. Dealing with Data Issues

This is part of your preparation. However, for the accounting and finance community, this is so common that it deserves a separate heading. Many of us deal with data issues on a frequent basis. The data may be incomplete or unreliable. An approach that many of us take is to lay this out in the presentation. We talk about how there is not enough reliable data to provide any conclusion. For example, when explaining an increase in the cost of sales, you may state that it may be that part of the increase in cost of sales is due to purchase price increase, however, our systems do not capture this data correctly, so we cannot really say that.

The problem with such a statement is that it does not really help your audience. Spend some more time during the preparation and data gathering stage of your presentation so that you can really provide conclusive statements. If you drill down with the aim of determining whether purchase price increase is a factor, you will probably find a way to tell whether it is a factor or not with reasonable certainty. You might even be able to quantify the impact. You spend a little more time thinking, and look for some more information that is already available, that may not have occurred to you. Note how much better this statement sounds compared to the previous one. Our Cost of sales has increased by $20,000, 30% of this increase, which is $6,000, is a direct result of increase in purchase price of Product A, compared to last year.   

Note: If you would like to learn how purchase price variance is calculated and accounted for, click on…

1d. Your Credibility

Credibility is something you develop over time, but it helps a lot when making financial presentations that your audience already places a high level of reliance on you. This reliance is a resultant of the quality of service you have already provided. Every time you have been asked for some ad-hoc information or analysis, did you provide a response that was well presented and accurate? As an accounting or finance professional, you will inevitably have to make financial presentations some time in your career.

You can start working on your credibility factor immediately. Every time you share financial information, double check to determine accuracy. Read you email from a reader’s perspective and make it easy on the eyes. Make sure any attachments to your email are printer friendly, not just in terms of consumption of ink, but also in terms of page alignments so that the user of information can print the attachment without the need to adjust print settings. What if they were in a hurry to take your printed attachment into a meeting of their own, only to find upon arriving at the printer, that it was printed, split from the middle, on 50 pages. Over the course of my career, I have noted that these small things matter a lot and create a perception of quality and reliability, which is your friend when making financial presentations

2. Your Presentation / Slides

2a. Too much material

If you have practiced your slides, you will know how much time you need to make the presentation. If enough time is not allotted to you, or things are running behind schedule, and you will be getting much less time than was originally allotted to you, here is what you should do. Instead of skimming over the slides quickly trying to make sure you present all of your slides, decide on eliminating a few slides completely. Present the remaining slides in the same way as you had prepared to. This way your presentation will still be memorable, actually this might make it even better.

Even if you have the full allotted time, do not go through your slides quickly. Do not move the cursor around a lot. Do not toggle from Powerpoint to Excel and other files a lot. Apply a calm and steady approach. Let your audience absorb information. Eliminate any information that does not contribute to your overall presentation story.

2b. The use of slides and clutter

If you have more than 5 objects on a slide (including text, pictures and graphs), your audience will begin to struggle cognitively, as they are trying to read or make sense of whats on the screen, as well as listen to you. So limit the number of objects to a maximum of five, but the lesser the better.

Focus only on one issue or topic in one slide, that should be obvious from the title at the top. Do not lump multiple topics or points in one slide. This will help you make clear presentations as well. It does not matter if you end up having a lot of slides. Its OK as long as your message is focused and clear on each slide and there is no clutter on the slides.

2c. Numbers vs Images / Charts

You probably know this already, but our human mind loves charts and pictures. We can always present numbers and results better in terms of graphs and pictures. Some graphs such as waterfall chart, bar graphs, and pie charts are great in visually summarizing results. The best thing about charts is that they are memorable and thus make your presentations memorable.

Her is an example. A waterfall chart that clearly explains a lot of detail in a very simple graphic. Click on the video below to see how you can create an automated waterfall chart in Excel.

2d. Visibility of Slides

Is all the information on your slide easily visible to farthest member of the audience? This includes pictures and specially text. Check font size and color scheme. Try and keep all the content more towards the center and away from the borders of the slide.

3. Your Audience

3a. Know them / Understand them

This is linked to the first step in this article. Your purpose or story. It is crucial that you know who your audience is. If you are presenting financial results to a CFO, or a bunch of Finance professionals, your language and level of detail will be completely different from when you are presenting to, say, factory labor.

One idea that really helps in this case is trying to put yourself in your audience’s shows, or better, in their minds. Try to see their perspective. What do they already know? What would they like to know? What would make them connect with what you are saying? You can get better at this by asking a lot of questions in all your presentations, and allotting a good chunk of time for your audience to ask questions. Over a period of time, you will find a pattern, and you will be able to classify the type of audience and the material that you can present to them.

3b. Engage them

The best way to engage audience is by telling stories and asking questions or sharing interesting facts. Make sure they are aligned with the subject of your presentation though. In engaging audience, eye contact is important too. Many presenters, during their presentations, look at their audience by glancing quickly over everyone in all directions. While they may feel, they are making a connection and engaging with everyone by looking all across the room or hall, but actually real engagement only happens with real, one-to-one eye contact.

A better approach, therefore, is to make and keep eye contact with individuals over the course of the presentation. Let people feel as if you are talking directly to them. Hold the eye contact until you finish the sentence, and then make eye contact with another person and do the same. You will start seeing a lot more heads nodding and a lot more people taking interest in what you have to say. If you see someone who is shy, and uncomfortable with the eye contact, let them go. Do not make them uncomfortable.

3d. Feedback and recognition

It is possible that some people who have helped you in preparing the presentation, or helped you with an aspect of the achievement you are sharing in the presentation, are sitting in the room as well. What better way to thank them than recognize them among others for their contribution. This demonstrates your thoughtfulness. They will remember you for this. If they are your subordinates, they will see you as a great leader. Their motivation will get a boost. Others will also recognize your thoughtfulness. All of this making a great combo for a memorable presentation.

In conclusion, remember the three ingredients of a memorable finance presentation. It takes time to master the details, but knowing them and then consciously working on improving these skills will make you a great presenter in no time. I am sure you will already see a big difference in your next presentation. So, I wish you all the best! and would love to see your comments on what you think about these tips, or if you have applied any of them, how did they work out for you.

Make to sure to connect with me by signing up with your email address. Lets connect! Click here to subscribe to my email list.

Here is a link to my YouTube channel LearnAccountingFinance where you will see helpful video tutorials related to accounting, finance  and Microsoft Excel.

How to Analyse and Present financial results – Avoid these four common mistakes!

present financial analysis

When I first started analyzing and presenting financial results to my organization’s leadership, I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I just felt something was not OK. I was not making a good impression. I would leave the meetings with this empty feeling. It was a little embarrassing, and painful at times. Can you relate?

This guilty feeling helped me, however, as I decided to learn and improve my financial analysis and presentation skills. That was a great decision, as things only got better from there. In this article, I will share with you four key mistakes that many beginner and often advanced finance professionals make when presenting financial results in management meetings. I will provide solutions as well, so that you can rectify these mistakes immediately, and become an indispensable and successful finance professional that you deserve to be.

#1: Presenting Numbers, Not telling Stories

The number 1 mistake that most beginner financial analysts, accountants, controllers and sometimes even CFOs make is present the results in the form of tables and numbers, year over variances and percentages. It is as if they are reading the results on the slides.

What is wrong with that, you ask? The problem with this approach is that it is much harder to comprehend. People loose focus quickly of what you are saying. They will not remember or even understand much of what you are saying. Even though, you may have provided some good information, your audience will not be able to absorb it. May be that is why, accountants and finance professionals are sometimes seen as boring. We do not leave an impression by sharing financial results in this format. Most of what we say during such meetings is forgotten before the meeting is over. The biggest problem with this approach is that the key message (if we had any) is lost in the details.

Note: If you would like to learn in detail, how to calculate sales variances and the impact they have on sales $, profit $ and profit margin %, and how to explain performance vs budget and prior periods, click here for a detailed video course (at a special price for readers of this post) showing exactly how this is done. You will also learn how to analyse and present the results of the variances to management and will be able to download solved variance calculation Excel templates.


Presenting results is your opportunity to shine. Each slide of your presentation should have a key message. That key message should also be the title of your slide. Your overall presentation should be a collection of key messages that can be narrated in the form of a story. If you structure your presentation this way, presenting it will be much easy. You will always know what to say and where you are going. It will be a coherent and thoughtful analysis with key takeaways for your audience. They will love what you have to say and remember it. Some may even get inspired!

#2: Too many Ideas in one Place

A lot depends upon the setting you are in. Is it a short, 15 minutes financial results update?, or a longer, more detailed business review? However, when we prepare our presentation slides, often we do not think carefully about what goes into each slide. Often, we lump multiple ideas or topics into one slide. This results in confusion, and our message is too broad. We seem to be jumping from one topic to another and then back quite frequently.


To avoid this situation, always create one slide for each topic. If more than one topic or issues are to be discussed, create separate slides for each one of them. Your audience finds it difficult to comprehend more than 5 objects on one slide any way. This includes a combination of pictures, tables and text. So, try to limit the number of objects to 5.

Do not include long textual paragraphs and definitions. Use minimal amount of animations, only to emphasize key points. For example, if your key message in a slide is mainly about Sales price increase and its impact on profit margin, you are better off not including numbers for Selling, general and admin expenses. If you are comparing prior year vs current year, you do not need to include budget or plan numbers in that slide.

If you have a lot to cover but not much time available, rather than skimming through each slide quickly, skip a few slides, focus on hammering home the key message on a lesser number of slides instead of going through all of your material.

#3: Data Issues and related Disclaimers:

One of the most common problem that we accountants and finance professionals face is the availability of  reliable data that can be used confidently to analyse and explain results. While your colleagues and leadership may appreciate that, the truth is they still expect you to come up with conclusive explanations regardless. I struggled with this one a lot initially. I thought that letting everyone know where the data has holes will help everyone understand that they cannot completely rely on the information. And therefore, should not make business decisions solely on the basis of the available analysis. The problem with this is that they still have to make decisions. They want you to provide them some conclusive guidance and you are not helping them by telling them that they cannot rely on the information you provided. It is like watching a movie without an ending. It can get pretty frustrating.


Although there is no easy fix for this problem, the first step is to acknowledge the challenge your audience is facing. The next step is to identify what elements of the financial information can be relied upon to a reasonable degree. You can always look at the data available from multiple angles and validate so that you can conclude to a reasonable level of certainty.

You have to take this as a challenge, and deal with the uncertainty. This is a key area where accounting and finance professionals can and should add value. Anybody can look at reports and summaries. Where we add value, is that despite problems with data, we can validate the information and make suggestions. This comes with time and experience, but you have to start by taking on this challenge. Trust me! you will discover that you have not challenged yourself enough in the past. Even the incomplete and crappy data gives you some valuable insights that you can share with your leadership. You only get better as you practice this skill.

#4: Most credible source of financial results and analysis

This represents the other side of the balance for finance professionals, and is also a key job requirement. If you are in the accounting or finance profession, specially if you are involved in presenting financial results, this is an absolute must for you. When companies need new products or improvements in existing products, they look to engineers. When they need talented people to hire, they look to HR. Similarly, when they need accurate financial information and advice, they look to finance professionals like You and I to guide them and solve their problems.  Do you provide accurate reports, analysis and commentary?

Your organization’s IT system may be generating automated reports for managers. Do the managers ask you if they have doubts on numbers in a system generated report? If it is not you, then may be, you have not established the credibility that is an absolute must.


If you are not there yet, do not worry. You really need to upgrade your skills such as financial analysis, variance analysis, data analysis as well as Microsoft Excel. You need to develop a thorough and clear understanding of cost and management accounting. Once you get better with these skills, your quality of work improves. Quality reports and analysis combined with your presentation skills such as those discussed in points #1 and #2 will make you an exceptional Finance professional who becomes the Go To person for management.

By the way, if you are serious with honing all of these skills, I recommend that you connect with me. I will be sharing with you, much of what I learnt about detailed financial analysis, presenting financial results, profitability and variance analysis (sales and cost of sales) and lots of advanced Excel. In addition, I will also be sharing my experience on how to find and successfully interview for the right job, how to get promoted quickly and become indispensable finance resource for any organization you work for. Make sure to sign up by clicking here for my email list and receive career transforming tips and information.


When done correctly,  analyzing financial results and business performance, and then presenting it can be an extremely rewarding experience. Especially, when you know you are adding value and making a difference. Your suggestions will be well respected. You will influence small and large business decisions. As you get better with this skill, you will find colleagues and business leaders from other functions relying more and more on you. You will be invited to more meetings and formal and informal discussions. Your advice will be sought. Even, your boss will value you more. Trust me! this is a great feeling.

If you do not already, you will begin to love your work. The fact that you become part of cross functional meetings and informal discussions will help you understand the business even better. You can gain operational insights which will generate more ideas in your head to analyse information differently and present new insights. It just keeps getting better. Your job will be secure and discussions around increment and promotion will become much easier, as everyone from HR to Sales, Operations and Finance functions will be seeing your contributions. No matter who the decision makers are, they will have only good things to say about you. You need to consider the advise given above, however, and start taking action on it immediately. Focus on development of your key skills such as variance analysis, accounting, Excel and presentation. I have seen a significant change in my income and accomplishments since making these improvements. I think I can help you with this. Make to sure to connect with me by signing up with your email address. Lets connect! Click here to subscribe to my email list.

How to create a Waterfall Chart in Excel and Why Use it?

Waterfall Chart (also known as Bridge Chart) is a highly effective visual method to present changes, both positive and negative, between a start and an end point. The values of the starting and end points are shown as bar graphs, and the gap or change between the two points is bridged by smaller, color coded bar graphs. The size of each bar graph is directly dependent on its value. Here is a great video tutorial on creating a fully automated waterfall chart in Excel 2013, or earlier.

Note: If you would like to learn in detail, how to calculate sales variances and the impact they have on sales $, profit $ and profit margin %, and how to explain performance vs budget and prior periods, click here for a detailed video course (at a special discounted price for readers of this post) showing exactly how this is done. You also learn how to analyse and present the results of the variances to management.

Why use a Waterfall Chart?

Well, this is because it is one of the best visual representation of changes, growth or transition from a start point to end point. It clearly shows what items contributed the most to the change from a starting point and an end point. If color coded properly, it also shows, which items have impacted positively and the ones that have impacted negatively.

Be careful though, not to add too many items in the breakdown or bridge because it becomes complicated for the readers to distinguish the key items. The main point of the waterfall chart is to highlight key contributors to growth or change between two points.  A good practice is to keep the items between 5 to 7, but certainly try not to let them exceed 10 items.

Are you an accountant or finance professional looking to improve your financial analysis and presentation skills? Make sure you connect with me by subscribing to my email list, Click here to subscribe to my email list.