In the financial modeling professional world, Financial Modeling Institute (FMI) issued certifications are the most visible and, perhaps, most rigorous. 

I have been teaching Financial Modeling since 2016 and have been creating financial/investment models since 2012. I have undertaken many very helpful training -- classroom training, online training and remote (but not online) training. The one that has most impacted my competence was a six months spread training sponsored and organized by Bloomberg. It greatly broadened my mind and exposed me deeply to the amazing Bloomberg Terminal. It formed the bedrock for greatly translating my technical knowledge to real world use. Armed with the Bloomberg Terminal, I was able to do jobs for clients even outside the country. My proudest being a 2 year consulting for a Canadian investment firm on building an investment portfolio return driver model that pulls data directly from Bloomberg Terminal and computes likely investment returns based on current values and trend of macro economic factors. 

I have also used these knowledge to develop tools for our Nigerian investment ecosystem, to make available data I easily get for foreign economies. I built a Microsoft Office app that provides you current and historical values of macro economic metrics (GDP, PMI, Oil Production volume, Inflation, Unemployment etc), Oil commodity price and Nigerian stocks data for free. I also built freely accessible Power BI dashboards of stocks performance data. Then I built a paid subscription based tool for accessing all the equities financial models, valuation analysis and market data we warehouse.

In a nutshell, the truth is that I had been preparing for the exam long before I knew of the exam. All my consulting and training experience meant that I met the Excel knowledge requirement and the accounting knowledge requirement. But there is a third requirement that I needed to learn from scratch. So if you are reading this, just have in mind that I didn't start from ground zero in preparing for the exam. I already got two of the three main requirements to passing the exam. Just that, interestingly, the Excel and accounting knowledge requirements are a lot easy to acquire compared to the third requirement: model structure. In fact, if you have used Excel significantly at work and have some accounting certification or intense training, you too would have met those two requirements.

So to the modeling structure requirement. 

All my consulting career, I had always modeled at a more top-heavy level. Meaning, I let the clients provide all the assumptions. I don't build depreciation schedules for them nor break down their revenue to unit price and volume (except for startups) nor equity schedule nor tax schedule nor debt schedule. The company in-house finance teams do all those and plug in their final figures into my model. I do working capital schedules, scenarios and all the other key breakdown/assumptions but in a way that they can replace with theirs as they seldom share with me all the data I need to make the best assumptions for them. My focus has been more of how to seamlessly integrate the model with their existing financial reports and planning/budgeting templates, create management level dashboards and put some level of access control. And be disposable. They (not just the CFO, so mustn't be scary or mammoth looking) should be able to use and update the models without ever needing to reach me.

The model structure required for the exam is a much more intense/granular one. You'll have to flesh out as schedules all the key input drivers on the financial statements. Also, you'll need to know how to handle issues not commonly experienced by private Nigerian companies -- equity capital raising etc.

Unfortunately, I underestimated how much study and practice I would need to master this more granular model structure. I kept chasing money and projects till it was one week to the exam. And then, I spent three days just to reproduce the solution to one of the practice samples. Three days to do what I am expected to do in 4 hours, and while looking at the answer! I now had three days to go and it looked obvious I was going to fail the exam. What my ego (overconfidence, as we call it in Naija) has caused! I quickly shut out every other aspect of my life besides sleeping, eating and using the toilet/bathroom. It became an almost 24/7 practice. I gradually shifted from panic mode to a more relaxed mode when I was able to take on a prior exam question without looking at the answer and finished in about 6 hours. Then it became a game of improving my speed.

The resources I used were purely the ones given on the the AFM webpage under the self-study section. Then I supplemented with the practice files they email all registered exam candidates. Interestingly, they were adequate even though not bulky (page-wise) at all. I think the most important factor is the study strategy one adopts. Best to take a study strategy that is spread over weeks and then do a very intense practice on the week on the exam so one is in the optimal operating zone to meet the strict time limit.

And that's been my experience. Thankfully, I passed!

If you are interested in our financial modeling training class, then here is the link to the registration details:
On a super light note, I started the year looking like this:

And I am ending the year looking like this:

You would notice that I now look handsomer -- special thanks to expert advice in my life. Secondly, I would be getting more of those expert advice going forward. 

You would notice that I have stopped posting daily like I used to. It's majorly an experiment and then a precautionary measure. I have some very important goals in my life and I feel that to be able to meet them I need to cut down on as much activities in my life as possible. So I decided to see if my progress would be better if I cut down on daily posting -- since it takes a considerable chunk of my time daily. Then, I started thinking of the benefits of not having to talk about everything happening in my life. There will always be some miscommunication -- people reading wrong meanings to what I write. Not that I have issues with people misinterpreting me; the issue is that people might start acting in non-beneficial ways to me since they I bare out my life to them. 

But like I said, it's mostly an experiment. I hope to get back to daily writing someday. Just that I might be less unfiltered in my posts.

This year I learned to be less sure about things. I am now better at embracing the reality that I am not as relatively better than the average person as I used to think, especially in areas of business and investment. I wouldn't say I am humbler but that I have expanded my horizon, and now see clearly that there are very many many things I need to know.

So you can say I am more open minded. I now change my mind as open as it needs to change based on facts I have. I no longer first have a position or feeling to back, and then dig up facts to back it up or fight those in the other camp.

In very simple practical words: this year I got married to the most amazing woman in the whole world, I no longer work solo but as a growing team, I became a certified AFM (advanced financial modeler), I lost money in the stocks market and feel very good about it, I am more open minded and I did a lot of things people never expected I would do.

Praying 2019 would be greater!
I have been working hard on our stocks analysis platform -- -- and some of the recent additions I made are some level of technical analysis incorporation.

Personally, I took a big hit in the stock market this year. I kept buying throughout the year even as stocks were going down. I did not pay too much attention to general buy/sell trends in the market. Actually, I have a disdain for technical analysis, partly because it's a big deal in forex (currency) markets and I have always been losing money in forex (currency) markets. All the fuss about support, resistance, candle patterns and so on looked too abstract and impractical to me. 

The amazing guys at were able to make me start seeing where the practicality of technical analysis lies for a fundamentals addict like me. Got to say a big thanks to Adetunji Adeshina

The truth is that I am still a fundamentals guy and I don't regret buying throughout the year in stocks. I am as proud of the losses I have made this year as the bumper gains I made last year. The main difference now is that I pay attention to trends -- technical analysis -- and I will be less willing to catch falling knives. I invest month: I usually first take out my savings/investment from my monthly income and live on the remainder. Throughout this year all those monthly investments went to stocks (and ETFs). Going forward, I will spread the money more strategically across all my asset classes; when the stock market is trending massively downwards I will pause monthly inflow into it (except if some amazing deals pop up) and channel more into another asset class that is not evidently trending downwards (also not necessarily evidently trending upwards).

In tracking the stocks market trends, I have designed via Power BI a price and volume action tracker -- showing changes in volume activity and the very important 50 days & 200 days moving averages. You too can access this (for free) in the Power BI section of 

On the side bar, you can select any company you want to analyse. And at the upper end, there is a timeline to specify the timeframe to analyse for. The upper chart shows the price plotted to the left axis and the volume plotted to the right axis. That way you can see when the market was most active for that stock and what direction it pushed the price. The lower chart shows the current price vs 50 days MA (moving average) and 200 days MA. With these basic technical data -- price, volume and moving average -- you can pull out useful technical analysis.

You can also analyse the entire NSE All Share Index.

Don't worry about the blood stains on the lower chart. I am still trying to figure out the reason for that. 

All these, I created by using Python scripts running on an Azure (cloud) server to store daily trade data on an Azure (cloud) database, then connect Power BI directly to that database with daily auto-refresh set. So without any manual intervention on my part, every day, stocks data is being pulled directly into the charts in Power BI.

If you go through some of my Power BI tutorial videos on and you will see how I created the core of this particular Power BI report.

Power BI is, indeed, an amazing data analysis tool for better decision making.

Join me today, on Cowrywise Personal Finance Series via this Whatsapp group at 7:00pm Nigerian time as I'll be sharing on how to leverage new platforms for investment.

Below are the slides I will be sharing. And as usual, I'll give very practical illustrations and tips that are Nigerian centric. See you!

Power BI is an amazing tool. I have used it to create amazing auto-updating dashboards for different reporting needs. You can view a couple that I made publicly available: and

Today, however, I will be showing you how to use Power BI to scrape data from a website and create a report/dashboard from the scrapped data. I will illustrate with data on parallel market FX rates for Nigeria. Effectively, you will be creating a report like the one below:

From an empty Power BI desktop file, do Get Data and pick from Web (under Other).

Follow through with providing the URL of the website to pick data from and selecting the table of data to pull into Power BI.

Do a couple of transformation on the data (except you are very lucky that the pulled data is already in a form that suits your report).

Create the report you want and publish.

You may also want to configure a scheduled refresh to make Power BI keep pulling new data from the website everyday.

I recently came upon a nice trick that is enabling me to combine my love for blockbuster Hollywood movies and French. 

I found out that if I did one tiny change to my profile on Netflix I am able to get French subtitles option and even French audio in the movies I watch on Netflix.

And today, I am sharing with you that trick.

1. Log in to Netflix

2. Click on your profile image on the top right and click on Manage Profile

3. Select a profile to make the change to, if you want you can create a new profile specifically for this.

4. Change the language of the profile to French (or whichever language you are learning).

And voila!

Now you can watch movies in French or still in English but with French subtitles.

It works for other languages too. So if you are learning Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese or any other language, do try out this tip. 
Last year (2017), we built our first fully online product -- a gift card site. It allows you to buy US iTunes gift cards and get it instantly delivered to you in seconds via email. And it has been an amazing success, garnering sales of between N500,000 and N1,700,000 a month but the profit margin is razor thin.

It was to be a precursor to our main online product -- a stocks analysis app. It will be launching in about two weeks but you can get a behind the scene peek at and even share with me your feedback (at

Unfortunately, Paystack which handles our payment processing has been frustrating us on a grand scale. 

Whenever we get some significant sales, they lock our account and we won't be able to withdraw our sales fund. So it becomes a case of customer has paid and used the gift card but Paystack is not giving us the money, so we end up not being able to restock and every new sales keep going into a locked account.

At first, we would email and call, and someone would attend to us saying it's a random flagging by their fraud system that it would go off in some hours. Then it gets resolved in 2 to 3 days but the disruption it causes is painful. Customers are not able to buy cards because we didn't restock since Paystack has withheld our funds and are giving a subtle threat that they would initiate a charge back (return of money to the customer who has already used the gift card he bought) if the customers' banks do not confirm that the transactions were made from the rightful card owners. 

It sounded like a joke to me. Their fraud system thinks a transaction is fraudulent but lets it go through, the customer has been serviced and gotten value for the payment made, then Paystack, after 24 hours suddenly feels the transaction needs review and then puts a hold on our account saying it wants to manually review the transactions with the banks so they can confirm that the transactions were by the rightful card owners. They not only withhold just the suspected transactions but all current and future transactions till they complete their review.

This has been happening steadily every time we get a daily transaction amount of about N40,000 and above. The fraud system suddenly feels no one should be making sales that high in one day. So we have to do many back and forth emails, as they no longer pick phone calls. And it takes 2 to 3 days to get a reply to an email. 

This October only, they have withheld our N632,000 for over 5 days, saying they didn't get replies for the banks. They don't think that if every merchant or payment gateway calls the banks for every single POS and online transaction for verification the banks won't be overwhelmed.

And it's not yet end of October, they have again withheld our N195,000. And as usual, no replies to emails. Just radio silence while our business goes into limbo.

Now I am having second thoughts on using Paystack for our major online product which we plan to launch in a couple of days.

If you are looking to improve your use of Microsoft Excel for business modeling (not just limited to financial planning/modeling), then you should seriously consider participating in the annual ModelOff challenge.

Below are my reasons, even if you are not into finance or feel you need not bother yourself about financial modelling:

  1. I have been given a free access coupon to share with you which will knock off the registration fee for you. You'll need to email me with assurance of using it to get it.
  2. You can access skill building past questions that cover important areas of Excel and data analysis outside of financial modeling at 
  3. I have even gone ahead to download the past questions from as far back as 2012 and put in Google Drive (you can email me to gain access to the google drive folder)
  4. Modeling skills are valuable for every professional who deals with data or some level of resource planning. So if you are an HR manager, an operations manager, project manager, materials planning manager, office admin, marketing manager, sales manager, strategy analyst, IT manager, customer experience/support manager etc, you will greatly benefit from being able to flexibly plan how you achieve set goals within the constraints you face and making the most of the limited resources you have. And that is what modeling does -- whether financial modeling, plant modeling, operations planning/modeling, human resource planning/modeling, L&D planning, maintenance schedule modeling, asset management modeling, marketing ROI modeling, production/expense modeling etc.


Step 1: Always Be Doing Something
We all have up days and down days, but there are two broad categories of people. One category let the progress in their lives be determined by this while the other category don't let this damage their productivity. 

In the end, the moods will fade and our emotions will have newer things to focus on, it is only what we do that stands. And if you always do very little when you are not in a good mood, you are the one who would ultimately be short-changed. 

I am always doing something. 

It is not just a productive work ethic, rather, some of the best things I have created were borne out of unpleasant experiences. And when I look back, I am always happy I didn't let an unhappy day keep me from doing my best.

Step 2: Don't Fight Your Emotions
No matter how educated and logical you are, you will always feel the emotions of envy, anger, fear and sadness even when you are logically fighting it. It's just the way we are.

However, nothing can be as energy draining and unproductive as constantly fighting one's emotions. 

Personally, I use a two pronged approach to keeping unpleasant emotional interference minimal. I avoid situations, people and places that stir up in me unpleasant emotions. And when I am overcome by any emotion, I simply let time do its magic on it; I don't blow it up nor try to fight it. 

The result is that I end up doing mostly the very things I would be proud of, rather than having to spend extra efforts trying to undo what was done in an emotionally tense moment.

Step 3: Read Wide; Read A Lot!
Having a wide memory collection of experiences of other people and their struggles can be the difference between being suicidal and being optimistic. Reading constantly gives you a lot more productive ways to handle events in your life. You tend to see a wider range of possibilities and can focus more easily on the outcome you desire. 

I go as far as reading books written centuries ago. Most of the stress we experience in life is due to our narrow view of life in general. We are not very good at grasping in a meaningful way that we are just a spot in both the time dimension and the space dimension. And that the frustration we are experiencing because of a very minor issue is purely a negative over-reaction.

Last week, I got a rejection email from Y Combinator about my application to Startup School (their free online startup mentoring program which is different from the widely popular Y Combinator Accelerator). A few hours after, I got another email stating that the previous email was an error due to a malfunction in the selection/announcement program, that I should have gotten a congratulatory email instead. 

And so began our journey into the amazing world of Y Combinator distance coaching. We are assigned a mentor who takes care of a group of 15 to 25 startups, with weekly live meetings and progress review. And there are weekly recorded teachings from veterans in the YC community. They even provide opportunities for one to come participate in the live teaching sessions instead of waiting for the recorded ones, just that you need to be in California, USA for that.

I have admonished my team members to make the most of this uncommon opportunity. We would be exposed to teachings from some of the best folks in the startup community -- people who have walked the walk and built billion dollar startups. 

In addition to the amazing learning and personalized help they are providing, they are also offering 100 startups $10,000 at the end of the 10 weeks mentorship program. For free. As a grant. No strings attached. And we already get access to loads of free and deeply subsidized tools from Amazon, Google and many other startup services/tools providers. They estimate that these benefits run into over $100,000 in value.

We are not the only Nigerian startup admitted. I have seen a couple in just my group. And they all are doing very cool stuff. Was really impressed by one based in Abuja: 

At the end of the program, we become part of a global founders community and get opportunities to collaborate with other startups around the world. Also, we get a higher chance of being taken into the prestigious Y Combinator Accelerator should we decide to apply. The mentor assigned us will coach us on what to watch out for and how best to present our product/idea to get a higher chance of successful application.

Personally, I want to learn all I can about improving our services and business. I have spent too much time improving the technical side of our business, it's high time we worked on the business side of our business properly too.

RelianceHMO, in my short interaction with them, is really living up to their name.

Like I mentioned in my last Friday post, we're setting up a health insurance plan for every staff of the company. I have been trying to get a quote from Hygeia HMO for about a week now. I have also tried reaching a couple of other well known HMOs. Some pick calls and promise to get back, others don't even pick calls. In the end I threw myself at chance and googled "HMO in Nigeria".

I went through the search results from top to bottom, even retried contacting Hygeia HMO. At the bottom of the list was RelianceHMO. The website looked very lovely and thoughtfully put together. But I was still trying to call Redcare HMO, then I noticed a chatbox pop up on RelianceHMO site. Then what I thought was an automated chat message appeared. I responded. And a human replied. Guided me through the entire process. Called us when I said we have questions to ask. It was so smooth and quick, I couldn't believe it until it was completely done. What took me several back and forth days with AXA Mansard last year for just an individual plan. I was thinking corporate plan would involve weeks and lots of paper work. 

The online management dashboard they gave us was superb and there is a phone app to help us remember all that is covered in the plan, also generates our e-ID card for the hospitals and allow us to directly chat with doctors. 

So far I am wowed. 

What is left is to now make use of the actual hospital visits and benefits. I am guessing it would be same as what I experienced with AXA Mansard as the hospitals don't seem to bother much about which HMO you are using except for documentation and reconciliation. But then again, I might be wrong. It would be nice, though, to be pleasantly surprised. At this stage, things must go terribly wrong for me to change my pleasant impression of RelianceHMO.

Go try them out: And maybe help me collect the PR fee they definitely owe me.