Good At Microsoft Excel? You Can Win $5,000 In A ‘Financial Modeling Battle’

Think e-sports just applies to video games? Not so fast! Now you can put your Microsoft Office skills to the test and potentially win some extra cash.

An organization called The Financial Modeling World Cup is expanding the very definition of “esports” beyond video games. The organization hosts monthly contests, pitting spreadsheet wizards against each other for cash prices.

Financial modeling is a competitive event where the participants are tasked with building and defending their own model of an organization’s financial performance. If you live and breathe analyzing complex data sets, this is your chance to see how you career skills stack up outside the office.

The Microsoft Excel Twitter account just announced its support for an upcoming “financial modeling battle.” It’s being called “The 888 Battle” – eight top financial modelers, eight countries, live and free on YouTube on June 8th.

How do I sign up?

While registration for The 888 battle is closed, The Financial Modeling World Cup has open stages where newcomers are allowed. Stage 1 started on January 22. As of this writing, Stage 6 is the next up, running from June 25-28. All of the stages happen over the weekend, presumably because people who are really good at spreadsheets have more important things to do during business hours.  

  1. Stage 1: January 22-25, 2021
  2. Stage 2: February 19-22, 2021
  3. Stage 3: March 26-29, 2021
  4. Stage 4: April 16-19, 2021 (1 week before FMI exams)
  5. Stage 5: May 21-24, 2021
  6. Stage 6: June 25-28, 2021
  7. Stage 7: July 23-26, 2021
  8. Stage 8: August 20-23, 2021
  9. Stage 9: September 24-27, 2021
  10. Stage 10: October 15-18, 2021 (1 week before FMI exams)
  11. Stage 11: November 19-22, 2021
  12. Stage 12: December 17-20, 2021

The Financial Modeling World Cup legally works similar to how DraftKings or other contests of skill work: You have to pay a registration fee for entry. You can enter for each stage. If you want to compete year-round, an open seasonal pass is $125.

The upcoming 888 Battle pits the best and brightest Excel minds. It’s more an exhibition, judged by Adam Callens – a senior program manager at Microsoft – and Danielle Stein Fairhurst, a Microsoft MVP focused on financial modeling and Excel. Here’s how it works:

The participants will have 40 minutes to solve a case, prepared by the organizing committee. The participants will be required to solve a business case through creating a financial model and answering several questions related to the model. A specific case breakdown will be published at least 1 day before the stage.

In contrast to regular FMWC monthly stages, the answers shall be submitted inside the Excel file. Each participant will be provided with access to a financial model, located on FMWC OneDrive. The participants will have to prepare calculations in the financial model designated to them and submit the answers on an answer tab that will be included in these models.

How much money can I win in financial modeling contests?

If you’re looking to put those Excel skills to work, Financial Modeling World Cup prize money is no joke. Sure, you’re not going to get rich. But it’s a great opportunity with minimal time investment fine tune a valuable career skill, especially if you’re focused on numbers.

It’s broken into annual prizes and stage prizes, with a $20,000 total prize pool, as outlined in the organization’s rules.

Annual Prizes – for the winners of the FMWC Season

  • Financial Modeling World Cup Winner: $5,000.00
  • Financial Modeling World Cup Runner-Up: $2,000.00
  • Financial Modeling World Cup 3rd Place: $1,000.00
  • Financial Modeling World Cup 4th – 7th Place: $500.00
  • Financial Modeling World Cup 8th – 10th Place: $350.00
  • Top Under-25 Participant: $500.00
  • Top Company: $1,000.00
  • Regional Champion of Africa: $500.00
  • Regional Champion of Asia/Pacific: $500.00
  • Regional Champion of Europe: $500.00
  • Regional Champion of Latin America: $500.00
  • Regional Champion of North America: $500.00

Stage Prizes – for stage winners

  • Stage Winner: $200.00 x 12 stages
  • Top U-25: $100.00 x 12 stages
  • Top Newcomer: $100.00 x 9 stages
  • Top Newcomer (U-25): $50.00 x 9 stages

For more information, check out the Financial Modeling World Cup website. The organization’s sample cases are a great example of the what each contest entails – it’s certainly NOT a side hustle for everyone. But it does go to show that there are ways to capitalize on valuable career skills outside the workplace.

Don’t forget – Microsoft Office in itself isn’t a resume-worthy skill. It’s still just a (very, very) powerful tool! The output of the data is only as valuable as having it effectively put into action.

But using Microsoft Office for financial modeling most certainly is!

B. Carlisle

Contributing editor at Wealth Gang. An entrepreneur at heart, he's passionate about meaningful ways to leverage technology and social media for business opportunities and side hustles.