Understanding the concept of Drivers and Predictive Power in Financial Modeling

financial modelling watch Oct 06, 2023


In the realm of financial analysis and modeling, understanding the underlying drivers of financial performance is akin to discovering the secret sauce that can significantly enhance the accuracy of future financial forecasts. During a recent enlightening webinar hosted by dbrownconsulting, Peter Ojo, a seasoned trainer and analyst, embarked on a journey to demystify the concept of drivers in financial modeling and their critical role in predicting financial outcomes. This blog post aims to distill the essence of that discussion, offering valuable insights into identifying and applying drivers to bolster your financial modeling skills.

The Essence of Financial Drivers

At the heart of any robust financial model lies the identification of key drivers – variables or factors that significantly influence the financial performance of a company. Peter eloquently illustrated the importance of pinpointing these drivers for each line item in financial statements, emphasizing their pivotal role in forecasting and decision-making. From revenue and cost of goods sold (COGS) to selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A), understanding these elements provides a solid foundation for building predictive models that stand the test of time.

Practical Application: Building a Model from Scratch

This practical demonstration underscored the importance of identifying and applying the correct drivers in financial modeling. It provided a step-by-step guide on how to approach financial forecasting with a focus on real-world application, thereby enhancing the attendees' understanding and skills in financial modeling. The session was not just theoretical but also highly practical, aiming to equip participants with the knowledge and tools needed to build accurate and reliable financial models.

One of the webinar’s highlights was the practical session where Peter guided participants through building a financial model from the ground up, focusing on the income statement and balance sheet. He shared a step-by-step approach to identifying drivers for each line item, such as price and quantity for revenue, direct costs for COGS, and overhead costs for SG&A, among others. This hands-on demonstration not only

showcased the methodology behind selecting appropriate drivers but also underscored the significance of leveraging historical data to inform future projections.

These were the steps that Peter took the audience through:

Step 1: Understanding Financial Modeling and Drivers

The demonstration began with an introduction to financial modeling as a critical decision-making tool used in forecasting a company's financial performance into the future. The facilitator emphasized the importance of understanding drivers in financial modeling—key variables or factors that significantly influence financial outcomes. These drivers serve as the foundation for making assumptions and forecasting financial statements.

Step 2: Identifying Drivers for the Income Statement and Balance Sheet

The core part of the demonstration involved identifying drivers for each line item of the income statement (also referred to as the profit or loss account) and the balance sheet (or statement of financial position). The facilitator explained how to identify drivers for revenue (e.g., price and quantity), cost of goods sold (e.g., unit cost and quantity sold), operating expenses, and other financial statement components. Special attention was given to how these drivers affect the prediction of financial outcomes and how to apply them to forecast future financial performance.

Step 3: Practical Application in Building a Financial Model

The webinar transitioned into a practical demonstration, showing attendees how to apply the understanding of drivers to build a financial model. This included:

· Forecasting Revenue: Using year-on-year growth rates and percentage of revenue methods to forecast future revenues based on historical data.

· Calculating Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): Demonstrating how to forecast COGS as a percentage of revenue, taking into account variable costs directly attributable to the production of goods sold.

· Operating Expenses: Illustrating how to estimate selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A) using historical percentages of revenue.

· Depreciation, Net Finance Cost, and Tax Expense: The facilitator outlined methods to forecast these items, highlighting the linkage between balance sheet assets and income statement expenses.

Step 4: Evaluating the Predictive Power of Drivers

A significant portion of the demonstration focused on evaluating the predictive power of identified drivers. This involved analyzing the percentage difference in historical trends and discussing how discrepancies could indicate changes within the business, industry, or economy. The facilitator emphasized the importance of drivers being predictive enough to ensure the reliability of the financial model.

Conclusion and Q&A

For those eager to dive deeper into the world of financial modeling and harness the full potential of drivers in predictive analysis, dbrownconsulting offers a range of courses and resources designed to elevate your skills. Whether you’re starting your journey or looking to refine your expertise, exploring these resources can open new doors to professional growth and excellence in financial modeling.