Top 10 types of financial models
There are many different types of financial models. In this guide, we will outline the top 10 most common models used in corporate finance by financial modeling professionals.
Here is a list of the 10 most common types of financial models:
- Three Statement Model
- Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Model
- Merger Model (M&A)
- Initial Public Offering (IPO) Model
- Leveraged Buyout (LBO) Model
- Sum of the Parts Model
- Consolidation Model
- Budget Model
- Forecasting Model
- Option Pricing Model
More detail about each type of financial model
To learn more about each of the types of financial models and to perform detailed financial analysis, we have laid out detailed descriptions below. The key to being able to model finance effectively is to have good templates and a solid understanding of corporate finance.
#1 Three Statement Model
The 3 statement model is the most basic setup for financial modeling. As the name implies, in this model the three statements (income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow) are all dynamically linked with formulas in Excel. The objective is to set it up so all the accounts are connected and a set of assumptions can drive changes in the entire model. It’s important to know how to link the 3 financial statements, which requires a solid foundation of accounting, finance, and Excel skills.
Learn the foundations in our online financial modeling courses.
#2 Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Model
The DCF model builds on the 3 statement model to value a company based on the Net Present Value (NPV) of the business’ future cash flow. The DCF model takes the cash flows from the 3 statement model, makes some adjustments where necessary, and then uses the XNPV function in Excel to discount them back to today at the company’s Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC).
These types of financial models are used in equity research and other areas of the capital markets.
#3 Merger Model (M&A)
The M&A model is a more advanced model used to evaluate the pro forma accretion/dilution of a merger or acquisition. It’s common to use a single tab model for each company, where the consolidation of Company A + Company B = Merged Co. The level of complexity can vary widely. This model is most commonly used in investment banking and/or corporate development.
#4 Initial Public Offering (IPO) Model
Investment bankers and corporate development professionals also build IPO models in Excel to value their business in advance of going public. These models involve looking at comparable company analysis in conjunction with an assumption about how much investors would be willing to pay for the company in question. The valuation in an IPO model includes “an IPO discount” to ensure the stock trades well in the secondary market.
#5 Leveraged Buyout (LBO) Model
A leveraged buyout transaction typically requires modeling complicated debt schedules and is an advanced form of financial modeling. An LBO is often one of the most detailed and challenging of all types of financial models, as the many layers of financing create circular references and require cash flow waterfalls. These types of models are not very common outside of private equity or investment banking.
#6 Sum of the Parts Model
This type of model is built by taking several DCF models and adding them together. Next, any additional components of the business that might not be suitable for a DCF analysis (e.g., marketable securities, which would be valued based on the market) are added to that value of the business. So, for example, you would sum up (hence “Sum of the Parts”) the value of business unit A, business unit B, and investments C, minus liabilities D to arrive at the Net Asset Value for the company.
#7 Consolidation Model
This type of model includes multiple business units added into one single model. Typically, each business unit has its own tab, with a consolidation tab that simply sums up the other business units. This is similar to a Sum of the Parts exercise where Division A and Division B are added together and a new, consolidated worksheet is created. Check out CFI’s free consolidation model template.
#8 Budget Model
This is used to model finance for professionals in financial planning & analysis (FP&A) to get the budget together for the coming year(s). Budget models are typically designed to be based on monthly or quarterly figures and focus heavily on the income statement.
#9 Forecasting Model
This type is also used in financial planning and analysis (FP&A) to build a forecast that compares to the budget model. Sometimes the budget and forecast models are one combined workbook and sometimes they are totally separate.
Learn more: see a step-by-step demonstration of how to build a forecast model.
#10 Option Pricing Model
The two main types of option pricing models are binomial tree and Black-Scholes. These models are based purely on mathematical formulas rather than subjective criteria and, therefore, are more or less a straightforward calculator built into Excel.
Video Overview of the Types of Models
Check out the video below to watch and listen to an overview of the various types of models, their components, and why they are used. You’ll be sure to learn a lot in only a few minutes!
Examples of financial models
Below are some screenshots of the various types of financial models discussed above and shown in the video.
If you’d like to have the templates, you can always download our financial models.
3 Statement Model
Here is a screenshot of the balance sheet section of a 3 statement single worksheet model. Each of the other sections can easily be expanded or contracted to view sections of the model independently. See our free webinar on how to build a 3 statement model.
Learn more: download CFI’s 3 statement financial model.
Here is a screenshot of the valuation section in a DCF model. In this section, the cash flows that were calculated above are being placed in sequence along with the purchase prices of the business to arrive at the internal rate of return (IRR) and Net Present Value (NPV). See our guide to DCF models.
Learn more: download the DCF model template.
Here is an example of an LBO model. As you see below, the LBO transactions require a specific type of financial model that focuses heavily on the company’s capital structure and leverage to enhance equity returns. Learn more about LBO transactions and LBO models.
Learn more: CFI’s LBO Modeling Course.
Here is an example of an M&A model used to evaluate the impact of an acquisition. The M&A model is a more advanced type of financial modeling, as it requires making adjustments to create a Pro Forma closing balance sheet, incorporate synergies and terms of the deal, and modeling accretion/dilution, as well as performing sensitivity analysis, and determining the expected impact on valuation.
Learn to build an M&A model step by step in CFI’s M&A Modeling Course.
We hope this has been a helpful guide! CFI is the official global provider of the Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® designation. To learn more about financial modeling and valuation you may want to check out the following CFI resources:
- What is financial modeling
- Financial modeling for dummies
- Excel shortcuts
- Why investment banking
- How to be a great financial analyst
- DCF model infographic
To find out more about finance careers, check out our interactive Career Map.
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