FMWC 2020 – Stage 3 Review

By Andrew Grigolyunovich, CFA, CFM, FMVA
Chairman of the Financial Modeling World Cup

FMWC is gaining momentum – at stage 3 we’ve had the highest number of participants and I expect that even more consider joining us next year to compete for the season overall rankings.

In terms of difficulty, we were planning to make stage 3 somewhere between Stage 1 and Stage 2. It seems that we were very successful – no one has got the maximum score, but many people were close enough and were able to gain time bonus points.

Each case contained some easy questions so even the least experienced participants were able to get some easy points and gain confidence. However, towards the end of each case, the questions became more and more difficult.

The Cases

We are experimenting with different case formats to raise the interest in FMWC to even higher levels. A completely new format was the “Speed It Up” case – you should be pretty fast in Excel, know shortcuts and be able to think fast. Some of the tasks were very easy while others were very hard and required out-of-the-box thinking. The best result in terms of time was achieved by Andrew Ngai – he scored the maximum 150 points while spending as little as 7:56 minutes on this case.

This case will now be slightly “repackaged” and will become publicly available. Our goal is to spread this case over a wider group of finance and Excel specialists. Everyone will be able to try his/her luck and beat the times set by FMWC professionals. We will keep updating the leaderboard for a while. We also plan to later create a similar case on general finance knowledge.

Diamonds are Forever was an interesting case on data analysis. An effective use of Pivot tables would help here. A more difficult task was splitting the goods into the right categories. Seems that we have created a real brainteaser for many participants.

Finally, the case on Power-Up Builders, a fictional construction company, gave an insight into how cashflows could become an issue for a profitable fast-growing construction company. In reality, these calculations are even more complicated – for the format of the competition we just didn’t want to overcomplicate things with deferred payments, subcontractor invoices and letters of credit.

Still, there was one question that was difficult enough but was very interesting to attempt. The participants had to choose which construction contracts should Power-Up Builders turn down in order to maximize profit and stay inside the limit of their revolving line of credit. Of all the participants there were only Christian Hueber and Anup Agarwal, who got full points for correctly solving the case.

Several participants were close enough but trapped into a so-called “local maximum”. It is a common problem with Excel Solver Add-In. Varying different optimization methods for Solver could be a solution here. BTW, the problem is not solvable with Goal Seek.

The Thrillers

Yet again we were able to publish the results just 1 hour after the competition was over on Monday midnight at IDLW time zone (UTC-12, Howland and Baker Islands). Seems that we will keep this as a standard going to the future stages.

Diarmuid Early has taken the lead over Joseph Lau. Seems that Joseph was stuck solving the first difficult question for the Speed It Up case. He didn’t spend too much time there and moved on to other cases, but a lot of points were left missing for him. The point gap between the guys is now 255 points – a comfortable lead for Diarmuid Early. Still, Stage 4 will give double the points and Joseph has many chances to catch Diarmuid.

I hope that one day FMWC grows into such a level of popularity that bookmakers will be accepting bets for stage and overall winners. With the current standings, I would expect the odds to be like 1.5 on Diarmuid Early and 3.3 on Joseph Lau. The others seem to be just way too far away to catch them.

The leading trio in the U-25 category is unchanged, except that Smith Jain from India has been overtaken by Janis Reinis Beikmanis from Latvia. They both are followed by Artsiom Petrykeyeu from Belarus.

In my review of Stage 2, I wrote that a very interesting battle is happening in Europe between Christian Hueber (Austria), Samir Asadov (Ireland) and William Gerritsen (Netherlands), twice a runner-up at World Championships. Now the battle is even more interesting as they were joined by Janis Reinis Beikmanis from Latvia and Andrew Ngai, World Champion 2019. Amazingly, Andrew Ngai managed to make it to the Top 5 European contenders after missing the first stage! He has great chances to win Europe during the final round.

Africa is comfortably lead by Jason Webber (South Africa). By the way, Jason will be giving a run-through of how to solve FMWC cases on December 9th. The webinar will be hosted by Danielle Stein Fairhurst and you can sign up for it here.

To our great regret, South America is still underrepresented. It is currently lead by Tiago Carvalho da Silva (Brazil) who is comfortably sitting on top of the regional rankings here. Amazingly, before the stage Tiago made a very wise investment, buying the seasonal pass for the remaining stages of the season. He is not guaranteed yet, but he has very high chances of getting the prize for the regional champion of South/Latin America.

Finally, I have to recognize the great job that Danielle Stein Fairhurst did for promoting FMWC to female modelers. While women are still significantly underrepresented at FMWC, we’ve had some very strong performances by Kathleen Whyte (New Zealand) and Lianna Gerrish (USA).

Format Adjustments for Stage 4

Stage 4 will decide the seasonal place and the prize money split between the participants. Please note that the stage will be somewhat different from the previous ones:

  • Stage 4 will provide double points – a maximum of 2,000 points for the stage. Time bonus will be double as well (20 points per minute).
  • The stage will last the same 2 hours as usual.
  • However, to improve the transparency of the results and to keep everyone on the same grounds, the stage will begin on Saturday, Dec 19 and last until Dec 21. We plan to split the top 20 participants into 2 groups based on their locations and to run the test for every person in the group at the same time. The times will be announced a bit later.
  • If a person is ranked e.g. #18, he/she can still take the test at any convenient time, but in such case, they will not be eligible for the prize money and any awards.
  • Other participants can take the test at any convenient time, but the cases will become available for them only at the time the second group of the leading participants starts working on their tests.

Black Friday Deal

On Friday we will start selling tickets for the next year’s season of FMWC. Only until December 1st will we offer a special discount for the next year’s seasonal passes.

A seasonal pass for 12 stages next year will go for $99 ($69 for U-25). The full price for the 12 stages is $180, which means a 45% discount.

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