After twenty years of building models and applications in Microsoft Excel (starting on a Macintosh SE20 with MS Excel 4.0 for Mac in 1990), I have finally got around to sharing my experiences online. Over the years, I have used many online resources to help me find solutions to problems, but in most cases, these solutions were not simple to find. By locating snippets of information from various sources, I could then combine these with my own knowledge to piece together the puzzle.
It was this that lead me to the Excel Codex. Starting off with step by step guides to areas of Excel that I feel have not been given much online coverage but which are really useful.
When I build in Excel, I resort to techniques that help create robust dynamic models that are very hard to break. Most traditionally built models are prone to #Ref errors and incorrect references when the model is restructured. By concentrating on dynamic referencing and key Best Practices, models can be robust and error free even after major restructuring.
My name is James Buist and I am British, currently living in Hong Kong with my wife and three children and have been here since 1994. Even after 16 years, I still love HK. It is a vibrant and exciting city and offers so much scope.
- I have BSc Hons in Mechanical & Electrical Engineering from Edinburgh University.
- I was awarded the CFA designation in 1998.
- In 1988, I ran a small contracting company in Edinburgh, Scotland which had around 100 peripatetic staff. I built an entire staff management and payroll system in Excel.
- In 1990, I ran an Apple Computer dealership in Edinburgh, Scotland. Again, I used Excel extensively for payroll, marketing and invoicing. I also became an Authorised Apple Computer Trainer.
- In 1995, after moving to HK, I worked for BZW Securities as a financial analyst building a Standardised Company Valuation Model in Excel (Excel 95). This project was started in the Bangkok office and then rolled out across most regional offices.
- I then joined Peregrine Brokerage as part of the Regional Research Team and built a regional Company Valuation System in Excel (Excel 95/97). This was rolled out across 15 Asian offices and used by over 70 research analysts covering hundreds of Asia companies. Each company spreadsheet fed into a standardised valuation engine that included traditional multiples such as PE and EBITDA as well as a full DCF analysis. This enabled easy pricing comparisons to be made across peer group companies, industry sectors and countries. The most interesting part of this was that it went into use in early 1997 and highlighted massive overvaluations in many countries due to Fixed Exchange Rates. In mid 1997, the Asian Currency Crisis hit and Peregrine collapsed under the weight of worthless Indonesian bonds.
- I then spent a number of years building an accounting solution and other applications using Microsoft Dotnet with a team of programmers in the Philippines.
- In 2008 I began consulting projects with a Hong Kong hedge fund helping to rationalise their reporting, analytics and middle office processes using Excel 2007.
- I currently offer Excel and Database consulting to Hedge Funds in Hong Kong.