by Brian DeChesare Comments (11)

How to Gain an Unfair Advantage Over Everyone Else in Interviews… for Free

Free Financial Modeling TutorialsLet’s skip my normal drama-filled introduction and cut to the chase:

You should subscribe to our YouTube channel right now and take advantage of all the free financial modeling tutorials there.

And if you’ve already signed up for the courses here, you should look at all the bonus case studies now available on the BIWS site, based on these short(er) YouTube videos.

Oh, you wanted actual reasons why you should do all of this?

OK, sure – read on…

What’s In It for You?

Whenever I conduct mock interviews, I am constantly amazed at how under-prepared most candidates are – especially on the technical questions.

But there are a ton of resources available for interview prep… unlike in, say, 2005, when it was the Vault Guide or nothing (ugh).

So the problem is not a lack of information.

The problem is that there’s too much information!

Who has time to read a huge finance textbook, or time to complete an 80-hour long course?

True, you should have started studying months in advance…

But when you just found out about an interview that starts 6 hours from now, “long-term planning” is no longer an option.

That’s what these YouTube videos are designed for.

Most of them are short(er), standalone lessons, and they address specific questions that often come up in interviews:

Some of these are around 20 minutes long, but most are closer to 10 minutes and you can easily skip around via the Table of Contents in each YouTube description.

So even if you have ADD AND it’s the last minute AND you just had a family emergency AND your pet dragon just passed away, you still have no excuse.

Put simply: these free lessons give you the most efficient way to learn and review key technical concepts right before interviews, so you get better results (job offers) in a fraction of the time.

Examples, Please

Here are my top 3 favorite lessons, based on viewer feedback and the “Likes / Views” ratio.

As always, I strongly recommend full-screening all these lessons in 720p because it is really hard to view Excel models in a tiny window.

Equity Value vs. Enterprise Value and Valuation Multiples

Equity Value and Enterprise Value are critical to understand if you want to do anything in finance, but most people – even working bankers – do not really “get” the concept.

We break it down in this lesson and go through an example of how Coca-Cola’s Enterprise Value and Equity Value change when it issues debt, repays debt, issues stock, and repurchases stock – and how the valuation multiples change as a result.

This one was inspired by the approximately 145,381,797 questions I received from students asking about similar questions in interviews.

Follow-Up Lesson: How to Decide What to Add and Subtract in Enterprise Value

LBO Model Concept: Leveraged Buyout and Buying a House

“Buying a house” is a common analogy used to explain leveraged buyouts, but it’s also a flawed analogy that doesn’t quite capture what happens.

We take a look at a much better analogy in this lesson: buying a house with the intent to rent it out to someone else and then sell it in the future – and show you how that matches up to an LBO, as well as the math behind both of them.

Apparently it’s “much better than the Investopedia one” (take that, $42 million company! You’ve been beaten by a guy working from a coffee shop).

What Working Capital Means in Valuation and Financial Modeling

Do you know what consistently causes the most confusion in the DCF tutorials we have?

Working Capital.

No one seems to understand WTF it means, and finance textbooks give explanations that make you want to rip off your own face while jumping into an acid-filled shark tank that sporadically catches fire.

This is one topic where the explanation is simple – but also one where no online sources (except for our videos) clearly explain what’s going on or how a company’s business model impacts its Working Capital… and in turn impacts its valuation in a DCF.

The Future

We add a new lesson every week or two, depending on how productive my army of leprechauns is.

So after you subscribe, you’ll get notifications for each new video we add – including those on more advanced and industry-specific topics.

Or you could not subscribe and be at a disadvantage in your next interview when you’re up against someone who has been through all the material.

Your call.

What If You’re a BIWS Member?

Even better: you get not only all the videos, but also all the Excel files and PDFs you need to complete the exercises on your own.

If you have signed up for the Fundamentals or Advanced courses (or some combination thereof), you can get everything inside the Bonus Case Studies section of the site.

NOTE: We tend to add videos in batches, so there may be a few YouTube lessons that aren’t there yet.

A lot of these bonus videos are “patches” for the lessons in those courses, and they address questions that came up afterward or points that I hadn’t thought about the first time around.

So as you’re going through those courses now, you’ll see notes and links to the relevant bonus case study lessons that expand on the topic in some way.

I highly recommend following those links because the videos and Excel exercises have gotten better and better over time – just ask anyone who joined the site in 2009 and has been using it over the past 5 years.

And One More Thing…

One other quick announcement for you…

We are releasing a brand new version of the Financial Modeling Fundamentals course by the end of this year that will blow away everything else in the market.

The videos above are a “preview” of some of the material in this new course.

A lot of textbooks, guides, and courses give you the formulas or teach you the mechanics of financial modeling…

But that’s the easy part.

The hard part is understanding why you’re doing any of it in the first place and how to use the output in real life.

Existing modeling courses come up short when it comes to understanding a company’s operations and the business itself.

That’s probably because most bankers’ knowledge of “operations” is limited to entering “Revenue = Prior_Year_Revenue * (1 + Growth_Rate)” in Excel.

This new course will bridge the gap between the mechanics you can learn in any course and the “real life” aspects that everyone else overlooks.

You’ll understand, for example:

  • If a growth equity firm is investing in a high-growth start-up, what does the customer count need to reach by Year 5 for the firm to realize a 20% IRR? What does that imply about the company’s sales & marketing spending? Are the numbers achievable, given its business model?
  • If a budget airline wants to increase its ROIC from 15% to 25%, what does that imply about the total number of flights it must offer? Is that assumption even plausible, given competitors in the market and projected passenger growth?
  • If a pharmaceutical company spends more to advertise its new specialty drug to one customer segment and gains more patients, what impact does that make on its share price? Can you long/short it to make money? Is it ethical to do so, given the state of the broken healthcare market?

We even use financial modeling to delve into socioeconomic issues, such as the death of the middle class in America.

And did I mention that around half the case studies are based on non-US companies?

We go to Australia, the UK, France, Japan, China, and yes, my personal favorite: Korea.

Where Can You Sign Up?

OK, so that’s the one negative: it’s not available yet.

It will be done by the end of 2014, if not before that.

If you’re a BIWS member, you’ll start seeing the new additions very soon…

…starting with 60 new Accounting and Financial Statement Analysis lessons later this week (look for the “New” Fundamentals course inside the site).

After that, more lessons will be added each month until it’s done.

If you sign up anytime between now and the completion date, you’ll get the entire new course for free.

If you’re still not convinced, you can take a look at 2 of the new case studies below:

No answer keys yet, but bonus points if you build those models and answer everything flawlessly yourself.

Oh, and make sure you subscribe to that YouTube channel for more previews of everything coming up.

Any questions?

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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  1. Hello Brian and Nicole

    I am considering purchasing the BIWS Excel and Fundamentals course. Could you please tell me how many of these free youtube videos are inside the package? It doesn’t really make sense to pay $347 if half of the course is available for free on youtube.. Also is the course suitable for complete beginners in Financial Modeling, or would you reccomend having some background knowledge? If yes what would you recommend reading up on before purchasing the course to utilize it to its fullest? Thanks!?

    1. To clarify, the YouTube videos are quite different from the actual courses we offer. Most of the YouTube videos are more like “Here’s a question someone sent us, and a quick answer and explanation” as opposed to structured, step-by-step tutorials to case studies and modeling tests. By contrast, the courses are step-by-step, structured tutorials for case studies, modeling tests, stock pitches, investment recommendations, and so on. We wouldn’t make half the course freely available on YouTube or no one would sign up.

      Some of the videos here are similar to the ones in the courses, but at most it is about 5% overlap.

      Yes, the course is suitable if you’re a complete beginner in financial modeling, though some accounting knowledge would be helpful (just in terms of familiarity with the financial statements and how business decisions are reflected there). We do cover accounting in the course as well in several modules, but more knowledge is always helpful.

  2. I would like to ask you a question that has been bothering me quite a bit for the last few weeks. I would appreciate a detailed response/feedback on how to proceed.

    I am a Wharton undergrad and I always thought that finance would be the ideal path for me. I bought your Excel Fundamentals, Basic, and Advanced Modeling courses. Fast forward to this summer, and I am working at a small PE shop in Korea. I am miserable. I love financial modeling, analyzing companies, etc. but I cannot stand working for 12+ hours a day, a feature of my work that severely hampers my quality of life. I realize this is nothing compared to banking, but I am realizing that the corporate life is not for me.

    Instead, I have begun to love academia (or plain entrepreneurship, which seems too risky at the moment) and would like to become a management or strategy professor. How should I best position myself? What should I study? I would like to go to a top PhD business program (or DBA) and although I will work very hard, I would appreciate having the flexibility to structure my life as I see fit, instead of having to blindly obey the orders of a crazed managing director.

    In addition, while I am a professor, I would like to consult independently-Do you know how much business school professors at top places make as a salary and from their external engagements?

    Your courses are great-I am going through the Excel Fundamentals course right now and it is a BARGAIN for how much material you provide! I will learn modeling because it is something I would like to be proficient at but in the long term, I would like to help companies operationally/strategically as an independent consultant (which I could do as a professor).

    I really appreciate your help, Brian and Nicole-I owe nearly my entire understanding of business/finance to this website.

    1. I wouldn’t necessarily rule out finance just because your experience in Korea hasn’t been good – work hours everywhere there tend to be ridiculous, so finance is even worse than usual.

      If you really want to go into academia, you have to get a PhD at the best school you can get into and grind it out to win the very competitive tenured positions offered at universities… also quite tough to get, actually.

      No idea on what professors earn from consulting fees, but it’s very lucrative and often dwarfs their base salary from the school itself.

      In general, I think you may be focusing too much on the goal (“structure your life as you see fit”) rather than the process.

      People contact me all the time saying, “Aha! I want to own my own business and have my own schedule so I can travel and spend my time however I want, just like you! OMG how can I get your life?!!”

      What they fail to realize is that a) It doesn’t work like that and it is actually an insane amount of work (as I write this message at 1 AM on a Saturday night) and b) That’s exactly the wrong way to think about a career because you’re focused on external features rather than the work itself.

      So if you hate working with senior people in finance, sure, that can be a reason NOT to do it… but are you prepared to compete for tenured positions in academia that are extremely tough to get? Do you actually enjoy the work of doing research, setting up classes, training TAs, grading term papers, etc.?

      I would ask yourself those questions before you think about this, because you need to have a better rationale than just wanting a more flexible lifestyle / the possibility of earning more money on the side from consulting.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole


      Thank you for your comment. If you’re a BIWS subscriber, I’d invite you to leave your questions on our support forum instead so we can get back to you at an even more timely manner.

      Adding to Brian’s comments, if you really want to go to academia, yes, I think going back to school maybe your best option, even though it maybe a longer road. I am not too familiar with the academic world, but I’d suggest you to take some management and strategy courses if this field is what you’re interested in.

      Otherwise, you may also want to consider switching to management consulting for a year or so just to gain understanding of the industry since you want to help companies operationally. You can then save up a bit, go back to school and pursue your academia profession. is a good website to refer to.

      At some point, you may also want to publish a book if you want to consult independently. I don’t know how much professors from business schools make, and I’d suggest you to contact some business school professors to seek their advice. I think, however, you can perhaps set up a company for your external engagements and depending on how you structure it, you can make quite a good living from speaking, public engagement etc, and schools would also love you because you can increase the school’s profile.

      I am very glad that you find the courses useful, and that they are a bargain.

      Please let us know if you have other questions.

  3. Hi Brian,

    I was fired from my last internship and I’m going through background check for full time and on my application I put I left because it was a summer internship. Would I get flagged for not disclosing I was fired from my internship?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It depends on why you were fired and whether it was a big deal i.e. was it on your record?

      This is a delicate situation and I don’t have the answer. Sometimes background check is rather generic so they may not be able to get this information. However, if your previous bank had this recorded, then yes this maybe flagged. But again, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. We’ve had many people worried about background check given what they fill in etc.

  4. Avatar
    Joe Blow

    A little confused by your last statement, “If you sign up anytime between now and the completion date, you’ll get the entire new course for free.”

    I was planning on purchasing the Premium package within the next month. When I do, will I have acess to the new material as it becomes available?

    P.S. The new material sounds kick-ass

    1. Yes, you will have access to everything as it becomes available. Let us know if you have any questions!

      1. Brian,

        I’m also still a little confused by the statement. If we’ve already purchased the Premium course in the past, will we still get the new version for free when it comes out?

        I’m really excited for this and cannot wait to see what the new material will have to offer.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Chris, yes you will have access to the free updates to the course you’ve purchased. Please let us know if you have other questions.

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