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Millicente Livia June 11, 2021 Spreadsheet

These common complaints with Microsoft Excel filtering are heard time and time again by engineers, accountants, management consultants, bankers and finance professionals who work with data in Excel spreadsheets on a daily basis. Many spreadsheet users including financial modellers (who seem to be leading the charge) are turning towards Excel Add-ins and software tools that plug into Microsoft Excel to help them improve the in-built filtering logic of Microsoft Excel and thus analyse certain data sets quickly and easily.

One of the topics I cover on my Advanced Excel courses is hardly ‘advanced‘ at all, but it is a very useful and popular technique with my students. It makes use of the OLE capability to create invoices by embedding Excel data. First you need to create an Excel spreadsheet and format it in an appropriate manner, keeping in mind that this will form the basic structure of your invoice and will eventually be seen by your clients. You don‘t include any Company contact details or logos in the spreadsheet though as these will be incorporated into the Word document. The next step is to lay out the invoice itself in a Word document, based upon your normal Company letterhead. Leave the main body of the document empty as this is where the Excel spreadsheet will be embedded. All you need in this master Word document is your usual Company branding and contact information.

Microsoft Excel is a phenomenally powerful calculator. You can create spreadsheets with 10,000 lines of data and calculate subtotals instantly. Indeed, if you change your data, any totals will get automatically updated. Arguably that‘s not too impressive. If we have quarterly revenues of \$1m, and we secure another \$20k, we can update our subtotal without summing revenues from scratch. So it‘s more impressive that Excel can do the same thing with statistical functions. If you‘ve ever plotted a chart on Excel, you may be aware that you can add a best fit line. These best fit lines are calculated using a method known as regression. Basically, you have to calculate the distance of every single point from the line, and minimise the sum. The maths is a little more sophisticated but the key point is that, every time you change the data, you need to perform the analysis all over again.

Microsoft plans to have this program up soon and now Google is beta testing a similar situation, which would allow you to do essentially the same thing. Why is this good? Well, consider the Digital divide in the world and if everyone just had a terminal rather than a big hard drive with lots of expensive stuff on the computer then they can store all their information at one location. By doing this, the computers would actually be terminals and it would be very inexpensive to make them, meaning that everyone in the world could afford to have one and everyone in the world could be online and interconnected in a giant collective of humanity. There would be no one who would be without the Internet and this would bring the world closer together in a common cause.

Additionally, it would prevent pirating software and Microsoft would be able to have a steady stream of income and continually upgrade their software without having to worry about people stealing their software code. Google of course is beta testing their similar project in order to head Microsoft off at the pass and compete with them for the new paradigm of computing on the Internet. If all your data was stored you would never have to worry about your computer crashing because everything is backed up somewhere else and safe.

Unfortunately an internal rate of return is time dependent so the amount you can withdraw depends on when you take it. Suffice to say, the only way to calculate the amount you can take e.g. halfway through the life of the fund, is by trial and error. If you are evaluating a number of investment opportunities, that can be a very time consuming process. Therefore Microsoft have built the Goal Seek function to aid your spreadsheet development. Since Excel 2007, it has been available from the Data ribbon. In earlier versions of Excel, it was present from the Tools menu. It gets straight to the point. It asks you which value you would like to fix (in this case the investor‘s return), what you would like to fix it to, and asks what you would like to change. All fields can accept cell references. It will then calculate the input through trial and error.

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