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The competition to enter if you’re young and want a better job in finance

Spending evenings at the office ploughing through financial models on Excel is seen only as a right of passage for many young bankers, but for others Excel wizardry is something to relish. If you fall into the latter camp, then competing in ModelOff may be for you.

What is ModelOff?

My business partner and I get asked this question all the time; we usually need to explain that it has nothing to do with bikini models. ModelOff is actually a fun, educational and challenging global event for professionals and students who love finance, Excel spreadsheets and numerical analysis, aka: financial modelling. Launched last year, ModelOff is already one of the largest finance competitions in the world.

The reigning Financial Modelling World Champion is 24-year-old Alex Gordon, a New Zealander who works for PwC in corporate finance. The big question for me is: does Alex have what it takes to retain his crown in 2013?

This year more than 3,000 participants, from more than 100 countries, are expected to compete in ModelOff, all vying for a first prize of $30,000. Our 16 finalists are flown to New York for the weekend to rub shoulders with employees from ModelOff’s major sponsors: Microsoft, Bloomberg, S&P Capital IQ, AMT Training, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and Ansarada.

Career boost

Aside from the lure of the cash prize, ModelOff finalists will find themselves in demand by current and future employers. Finalists of the 2012 competition have been asked to speak at major events on financial modelling, while many competitors have been able to leverage the ModelOff brand to establish their reputation as a financial modeller. Here are five major reasons why competing in Modeloff 2013 will boost you career:

1) Get headhunted: last year recruiters from top-tier firms immediately got busy contacting many of those who made it to the second round or finals of the competition.
2) Build deeper technical skills to analyse and interpret financial information.
3) Demonstrate your ability to perform under time pressure – a hallmark of leaders in global finance.
4) Practice clear thinking towards structured and applied finance, and investment.
5) Participation and rankings in ModelOff are awarded recognised credentials through our partnership with Credly, a career-credentials website.

So if you are passionate about a career in investment banking, hedge funds, portfolio management, equities research or any form of financial analysis, I encourage you to enter ModelOff to objectively test your skills and become a better finance practitioner.

How does ModelOff work?

Round 1 starts on 26 October 2013. Both rounds 1 and 2 are online tests that each last for two hours. Each round is run simultaneously worldwide and is conducted completely online; all you need is a computer, internet connection and Microsoft Excel (preferably the 2010 or 2013 version).

Questions are short case studies, answered in a multiple-choice format, and covering the knowledge and skills required for effective financial modelling, such as discounted cash-flow modelling and Excel-related problems. Participants are required to upload selected Excel worksheets; and the quality and style of their solutions is considered when the finalists are chosen.

The top-16 applicants worldwide receive flights and accommodation to attend the finals in New York on 8 December 2013. The finals are held at Microsoft’s offices and consist of several hours of closed competition and a live-presentation event. Finalists can also look forward to networking events, including dinner with our judges: Simon Benninga, a Professor of Finance at Tel Aviv University; Kiel LaFrance, head of Americas financial modelling at S&P Capital IQ; and Bill Jelen, one of the world’s leading authorities on Microsoft Excel.

Getting ready

As part of helping to pursue the educational objectives of ModelOff, free sample questions are available on our website to help you prepare for the competition. We’ve also included a comprehensive “Competition Framework” to make sure you’ve covered the right areas as you get ready.

Last year the average age of the Modeloff finalists was 26 years old – it’s a young, vibrant competition that creates a powerful platform for today’s finance experts and tomorrow’s finance superstars to showcase their skills on the world stage.

Visit www.modeloff.com to learn more and register. Competition entries close 25 October 2013.

Johann Odou is the chief global organiser of ModelOff.

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