Your Guide To The ModelOff 2015 Finals


Here we are again, preparing for the great showdown of the world’s Top 16 minds in Financial Analysis, Investment and Microsoft Excel. From December 1st to 4th, 2015 the world’s top 16 financial modellers will converge on London for some final challenges to determine the new World Champion. Who will follow in the footsteps of Alex Gordon, Hilary Smart and Diarmuid Early to be crowned king? We present, by popular demand, the ModelOff 2015 Finals Guide, to help you understand some of our Finalists’ backgrounds, form and strengths. Feel free to tweet us @ModelOff or tell us on Facebook who you think will claim the 2015 title!

 
 

Anup Agarwal

From: Bengaluru, India
Age: 27
Nickname: “The Thinker”
Current World Ranking: #41
Past Finalist (2014)

 
 

Anup became the first Indian Finalist at ModelOff 2014. The tall, talented Indian is an incredibly popular figure among his peers and will undoubtedly have the greatest national following of all the Top 16 Finalists. One of his highlights last year was meeting the Microsoft Excel Development Team and taking a selfie with “Mr Excel” Bill Jelen. At the ModelOff 2015 Meetups in Mumbai and Bangalore, Anup was a rockstar. Anup has a background in Structured Finance and Debt Capital Markets. To quote Anup – “ModelOff was the first time in my life I was actually pushed myself – and really was schooled by the best”. Anup has his own independent consultancy in spreadsheeting in India – ThinkMatrix – and since ModelOff last year, has travelled the world extensively. A year wiser and more international experience will give Anup a real chance – he’ll need to get better as he’s up against the strongest field we’ve ever had.

Did You Know? Anup surged to prominence last year with a commanding 119/120 in Round 1.
 


Eric Brady

From: New York, USA
Age: 23
Nickname: The Protégé
Current World Ranking: Top 100
Finals Debut

 
 

One of the best stories of ModelOff 2015. Many consider two-time finalist William Glass (“The Gladiator”) one of the best financial modellers in the United States. What people don’t know is that he mentors young star Eric Brady at prestigious investment firm, Perella Weinberg Partners. Last year, Glass cautioned us that Eric Brady was something to watch closely. “I’ve got this new guy – Eric – he’s got this special thing about him. I hired him myself. With a few years of real hard work, he’ll have a real chance of making the Finals and becoming the ModelOff Champion”. To William Glass, we thank-you. To Eric, welcome to the big stage.

Last year Eric finished in the Top 40, and prior to the Online Rounds had a world ranking just outside the World Top 50. He actually wasn’t going to compete in ModelOff 2015 as he was heading on vacation, but changed his mind when he discovered how close he was. A great life decision. A huge score of 105 (6th overall) in Round 2 propelled Eric into this year’s Finals. It’s terrific to see Eric’s dramatic improvement in cracking the Top 16. We’ve previously heard some great stories of mentoring from John Tjia (Head of EY New York, who had two finalists from his team, Devin Rochford and Nishan Prabhakaran) and we congratulate PWP on their culture of fostering elite young talent. With a GPA of 3.98, you’ll do great Eric. Something tells us we’re going to get to know you very well over the next few years.

Did You Know? Eric is the fourth-youngest ModelOff Finalist ever.

 


Josh Bruce

From: St Paul, Minnesota, USA
Age: 29
Nickname: The Traveler
Current World Ranking: N/A
Finals Debut

 
 

Josh Bruce is the top-ranked American going into the ModelOff 2015 Finals. He is a quantitative fixed-income specialist with Travelers with experience in advanced finance and analytics – including programming (VBA, SQL), Mathematics, Performance Attribution, Risk Analysis, Derivatives, Options, Quantitative Finance and Volatility. Josh is an alumni of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He reminds us of the extreme talent we’ve traditionally come to expect from New York, Boston or Chicago – but like many of our exceptional recent finalists have shown, you don’t need to be from a big USA finance city to be a world-class financial analyst and financial modeller (e.g. Nick Sanford 2014 – Alabama; Yuan Li 2014 – Detroit).

Josh helps with mentoring analysts and associates at Travelers; inspiring the next generation of quantitative leaders is what ModelOff is all about. The big question for Josh will be his instincts under pressure – the Top 16 Finals is focused on versatile business problem solving – and we’ve seen even the brightest and best crack under pressure with the style of lateral, innovation challenges. Along with Gerritsen – could surprise by knocking at the door of a podium finish at Microsoft’s London offices. And why the nickname ‘The Traveler’? Apart from it fitting his company’s name, it also describes one of his great loves outside of work as a global adventurer. The best bit: Josh can apply his modelling skills to arrange the most cost-effective yet luxurious trips for he and his girlfriend!

The Online Rounds
Josh consistently ranked in the Top 5 worldwide in both Online Rounds, which is nothing short of exceptional. He scored 106 in Round 1 and 103 in Round 2. Has shown he can cope under immense time pressure.

Did You Know? Josh is a Member of Mensa.
 


Albert Chu

Albert Chu

From: USA (working in London, UK)
Age: 31
Nickname: The Tactician
Current World Ranking: N/A
Finals Debut

 
 

With an MBA from Harvard University and work experience at Boston Consulting Group, you know Albert Chu is never to be understated. Chu works with Masternaut as VP Growth and Transformation and will have some serious strategy and management consulting credentials (like Diarmuid Early) that will no doubt help with innovation business challenges and anything out-of-the-box. Albert’s a man of the world, speaking Chinese and Spanish as well. He’s not a classical financial modeller – but often the freestyling, creative thinking minds are the best. Fascinating to see how Albert’s creativity compares to that of John Lim (technically-outstanding pure financial modeller, almost his polar opposite). He’ll need to increase his powerhouse speed in more standard challenges (valuations, project finance, etc) as the Finance pedigree is extremely strong among the 2015 ModelOff Finalists. As Diarmuid Early showed last year, the experienced management consultant Chu might just spoil the party of the finance and spreadsheet fraternity in his new hometown of London.

The Online Rounds
Josh consistently ranked in the Top 5 worldwide in both Online Rounds, which is nothing short of exceptional. He scored 106 in Round 1 and 103 in Round 2. Has shown he can cope under immense time pressure.

Did You Know? Albert and Diarmuid Early already know each other because of previous work.
 


Michael Clarke

From: Wellington, New Zealand
Age: 27
Nickname: The Cricketer
Current World Ranking: #7
3-time Finalist (2013, 2014, 2015)

 
 

One of four “3-Peat” Finalists in ModelOff (2013, 2014, 2015) and currently ranked World #7. Clarkey only entered ModelOff because his fellow PwC New Zealander, Alex Gordon (2012 World Champion), once said “you’d go well in the competition”. An Actuarial Manager at PwC, people often forget that Clarkey is only 27 years old! Clarkey finished 3rd at the 2014 ModelOff Finals. He genuinely struggled to find form in Round 1 but showed composure and class with a thunderous Round 2. Obviously he’s a real threat given his experience at the Finals. New Finalist Albert Chu shows a lot of similarity to Clarkey’s creative, results-driven style of financial modeling. Clarkey is one of the most exciting financial modellers in the world – and always one of the most popular among his peers and the crowd.

Did You Know? After Online Round 2 finished at 3am (NZ time), Michael had no sleep before the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup Final match (they beat Australia). After a few well-deserved celebrations, Michael didn’t hit the hay until 10am! He’s a true fan.
 


Early

Diarmuid Early

From: Ireland (working in New York)
Age: 30
Nickname: The Diamond
Current World Ranking: 14
Current ModelOff World Champion; 3-time Finalist (2013, 2014, 2015)

 
 

In late 2014 we described Diarmuid as “one of the most gift analytical minds in the world”. We were right. Diarmuid was winner of the 2014 Financial Modeling World Championships and the $US30,000 prizemoney. Our company PSCL witnesses thousands of professionals and students in our competitions and hackathons each year in different technology and analytical industries – Diarmuid is in a class of his own. Diarmuid works with Deutsche Bank in New York, formerly at Boston Consulting Group, is a CFA Charterholder, winner of an International Mathematics Competition and remarkably completed his PhD in Computer Science with a degree awarded with ‘no corrections needed’.

Sure the other favourites Alvin Woon and Peter Suen are major threats this year but the #1 person in the way of Diarmuid going back-to-back is Joseph Lau who enters as the #1 seed. Diarmuid, you’ve been a marvellous World Champion and brand ambassador for ModelOff. We feel blessed to have someone of your professionalism, class and humility as a role model for our ModelOff Community.

Did You Know? Diarmuid and his wife Connie have recently celebrated the birth of their first child, Fionn! Congratulations guys!
 


Willem Gerritsen

From: Wijk bij Duurstede, Netherlands
Age: 36
Nickname: The Athlete
Current World Ranking: N/A
Past Finalist (2014)

 
 

The Dutchman is a rare breed. Gerritsen loves sports, running, cycling and everything competitive. He’s a born winner. Gerritsen possesses the statistical and maths skills of a Professor. Gerritsen is one of only a few Finalists with a Computer Science degree. He’s damn quick. We met Willem at the 2014 Finals and he showed us why he’s one of the most innovative thinkers in real-life Microsoft Excel across the world – from horseracing, share trading or betting on the 2016 USA Election or calculating the speed of a rocket headed to the moon – Gerritsen can statistically solve any complex business challenge with Microsoft Excel. To be clear, Gerritsen isn’t one of the Financial Services powerhouses in the Top 16 Finals (cf. Josh Bruce, Chris Whitcombe, Kenny Worrell, Karolis Ramanauskas) but that will also be one of his greatest weapons too. With his breadth of experience, and deep analytical ability, Gerritsen will assuredly finish in the top half and has a red hot chance to take a Top 3 podium place at this year’s Finals. Sport and analysis has taught Gerritsen to be a champion – this could be his next big stage to conquer.

The Online Rounds
Gerritsen had a monster Round 2. Some said it was “impossible” to score above 100 – Gerritsen scored 112 and finished 2nd overall in Round 2 (16 others achieved this feat of scoring above 100). Very consistent across the board. No real weaknesses; if anything, a few of the Finance questions.

Did You Know? Willem brews his own beer in his free time.
 


Ilia Larchenko

From: Moscow, Russia
Age: 24
Nickname: The Prodigy
Current World Ranking: N/A
Finals Debut

 
 

When it comes to identifying the next generation of financial services leaders, Ilia Larchenko’s name should be right near the top of the list. The young Muscovite has a seriously impressive CV at all of 24 years old. He has degrees from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, which is the best Russian technical university, specialising in Applied Mathematics and Physics. He’s already passed all three levels of the CFA (but is still waiting on the Charter!). He’s won a number of all-Russian student case study and finance competitions as well as various other scholarships over the past few years – too many to mention here (just check out his LinkedIn!). Already having done work across M&M, oil and gas and TMT, Ilia has shown he has the breadth of modelling experience. The only question is whether he has the depth. As with ‘The Protégé’ Eric Brady, we know that Ilia’s another extremely special talent, and regardless of the result in London, we know his star’s only going to continue to grow in the years to come.

Did You Know? In his spare time, Ilia is into CrossFit and basketball.
 


Joseph Lau

From: Sydney, Australia
Age: 42
Nickname: “The Fine Wine”
Current World Ranking: N/A
Past Finalist (2014)

 
 

Joseph Lau is just like a fine wine – he gets better and better with age. He is by far the #1 qualifier for the 2015 World Finals – scores of 119/120 (2nd overall) and 115/120 (1st overall) have put him in the box seat to win in December. We’ve heard about Joseph for a few years now from many sources in Sydney, and we’re thrilled to have someone with his experience involved. Some say financial modelling is a young kid’s game, but Joseph continues to teach his young troops at Commonwealth Bank of Australia how it’s done.

Lau is gracious and humble and understands the need to foster young talent: “Over the years it has been great to see [junior modellers] grow and develop into bankers or experienced modellers.” Coupled with the experience Lau gained from appearing in the 2014 Finals, Lau is primed to peak at the right time. His background in Computer Science and Mathematics will be valuable with more data-driven questions.

Did You Know? Joseph Lau doesn’t have LinkedIn. EDIT: This changed after he won ModelOff 2015!
 


John Lim

From: Melbourne, Australia
Age: 33
Nickname: “The Technician”
Current World Ranking: #13
Past Finalist (2013)

 
 

We nickname 33-year old John Lim “The Technician” as he’s undoubtedly one of the more well-rounded pure financial modellers in the world with his background in accounting, tax, engineering and programming (note: John was also a past finalist in 2013). He’s shown consistently that financial modelling is not just about speed – but about curiosity, strategy and asking the right questions. John will have a real chance of winning the competition this year as very few of the finalists have the accounting and professional services pedigree of Lim. John is an Associate Director in the KPMG Australia Financial and Business Modeling team. If Finals questions are in Lim’s wheelhouse – especially large infrastructure projects or real estate – not only will Lim finish among the winners, but he will challenge for the title of 2015 World Champion.

Did You Know? John’s wife gave birth to their first-born girl 48 hours prior to Round 2 this year. John asked his wife to quickly leave the hospital and sit the gruelling challenge at 11pm Australian time (that’s commitment!).

 


McGuire

Dean McGuire

From: Sydney, Australia
Age: 32
Nickname: The Trooper
Current World Ranking: 24
Finals Debut

 
 

Dean McGuire has been knocking on the door of a ModelOff Finals birth for three years. This year he nailed it. Dean is a real-estate investments portfolio manager with GPT Group and formerly worked as a senior investment analyst with NAB (one of Australia’s largest banks). His unique mix of banking, real-estate and engineering (like Alvin Woon) give him versatility and cross-cutting industry experience that other Finalists lack. Yet another CFA Charterholder which holds him in great stead for heavy finance-focused Finals case studies. It’s terrific to see Dean’s persistence and dogged determination pay off here (hence the nickname ‘The Trooper’), and we look forward to seeing him show his skills in London.

Did You Know? Dean’s qualification is even more remarkable for the fact he doesn’t even model as part of his day job anymore.
 


Karolis Ramanauskas

From: Lithuania (works in London, UK)
Age: 31
Nickname: The Swing Guy
Current World Ranking: 29
Finals Debut

 
 

We first met Karolis in 2013 when he delivered a Top 3 Round 1 finish in 2013 only to be disappointed by narrowly missing out on the World Finals. Two years on, Karolis is better, faster and stronger. He delivered back-to-back strong performances to earn his first spot in the World Top 16 at ModelOff 2015. Karolis is another “Quant” in this year’s lineup (Chris Whitcombe and Josh Bruce the others) with a CFA Charterholder designation and works with CF Partners Asset Management. He specialises in a hedge fund analysis, equity research, quantitative finance and automated trading. He’s also pretty handy with machine learning, quantum mechanics, computer science and actuarial mathematics given his educational background. On his day has the X-factor and breadth of experience (he’s pretty sound in most analytical roles!) to propel him into the Top 3.

Did You Know? Karolis can solve a Rubik’s cube in 20 seconds.
 


Peter Suen

From: Sydney, Australia but representing Canada
Age: 31
Nickname: The Iceman
Current World Ranking: #1
3-time Finalist (2013, 2014, 2015)

 
 

To call Peter Suen the “Roger Federer” of financial modelling would be a big call, but you get the idea. The former actuary makes financial modelling feel so easy, so natural, so effortless. Currently ranked the #1 Financial Modeller in the world, Suen this year joined KPMG Canada on the Global Investment Team working on KPMG’s next big M&A acquisitions and due diligence. KPMG’s stable of powerhouse financial modellers continues to grow and improve every year at ModelOff (KPMG’s John Lim in the 2015 Finals; Rachel Brader in New Zealand and former Finalist Paul Kehoe Ireland narrowly missed the Finals). Suen was previously an investment analyst with Clean Energy Finance Corporation in Sydney, Australia. Suen is the “The Iceman” because he doesn’t crack under pressure. Suen certainly won’t be intimidated by the intellect of some of the highly-fancied favourites at the ModelOff Finals (especially Alvin Woon, Diarmuid Early and Joseph Lau). His clarity, calmness and intellectual crispness separates him from others – spending time asking the right questions and allocating his energy on the right moments so he doesn’t get stage fright. Suen’s composure reminds us of former world champion Alex Gordon from PwC (2012) with a winning instinct to take the title. Like all champions, however, Suen will need to win a World Title to immortalise his claim in the history books. On raw natural ability and work rate, Suen is remarkable in every way. Win or lose, a fabulous ambassador as the #1-ranked ModelOff star.

The Online Rounds
Just incredibly consistent. Scored 113 in Round 1 (ranked 3rd overall), and very strong 106 in Round 2. Probably why Suen is the world’s #1 ranked financial modeller since 2012. Three consecutive ModelOff Finals appearances speak for themselves, including a 3rd in ModelOff 2014.

Did You Know? Like many ModelOff Finalists, Peter Suen is a self-taught Excel expert.

Read Pete’s humorous take on Round 1 >>

 


Chris Whitcombe

From: London, United Kingdom
Age: 32
Nickname: “The Ironman”
Current World Ranking: N/A
Finals Debut

 
 

Chris is one of the new stars of ModelOff 2015 and one of two London-based Finalists along with Albert Chu. Remarkably similar background to another new Finalist, fellow quantitative analyst Josh Bruce. Whitcombe has a heavy-duty Finance and Investment experience, thanks to his time at an Investment Bank where he modelled loan portfolios and leveraged buyouts. He currently works for Kinson Capital, a company specialising in structured asset and complex credit risk markets. He’ll love the 2015 ModelOff Finals experience and is a big British favourite keen to take the title in his hometown. Chris has an incredibly strong athletic pedigree in ironman and triathlon events which has driven his competitive spirit, taught him to deal with extreme pressures (time seems to be one of those ones in ModelOff!) and to think super clearly. If it comes down to Chris and Willem vying for a ModelOff podium position in December, perhaps the only fair tiebreaker would be a marathon!

The Online Rounds
Whitcombe had a massive Round 2 scoring 112/120, placing 3rd overall worldwide.

Did You Know? Chris represented Great Britain and became 30-34 Age Group ETU European Long Distance Triathlon Champion in September 2015.
 


Alvin Woon

From: Hong Kong
Age: 36
Nickname: “Winning Woon”
Current World Ranking: #4 (New World Record Holder)
3-time Finalist (2013, 2014, 2015)

 
 

Hong Kong’s Alvin Woon is the hottest talent on earth right now for financial modelling. The 36-year-old set a new world record of 120/120 at Round 1 ModelOff 2015 (Try sitting Round 1 within 120 minutes – you’ll see how extraordinary this achievement is and why it will be remembered in the history books of any professional competition). After notifying Woon that he’ll be coming to the London Finals – the first line of the email reply noted: “I’ve got some unfinished business in London. I’m coming to win”.

The quietly-spoken banker from Bank of America Merrill Lynch finished 2nd at ModelOff 2014 (albeit just becoming a father!) and 3rd in 2013. Will he go one better this year? We think Alvin wouldn’t have returned without believing that he can genuinely take the crown. As organizers, last year Diarmuid Early had a similar steely, inspired focus in his eyes and his competitors could sense it. We get the feeling that this year the hungriest, grittiest competitor to become World Champion is “Winning Woon”. Alvin has an engineering pedigree and spends much of his time at BAML on pricing and portfolio analysis that keeps sharp his finance and analytical skills every day. As a freestyler and powerhouse financial modeller, there’s no luck with “Winning Woon”. And if a world-record perfect score isn’t enough to scare his rivals in the Finals, imagine if he finds the same magic in London.

The Online Rounds
Perfect in Round 1 – 120/120 – setting a new world record. Found a few minor challenges in Section 4 (The Price Is Right) of Round 2 though he still scored really high with 98. He was probably just watching some television or went Halloween trick-or-treating!

Did You Know? Alvin grew up and completed his tertiary education at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He also once worked in the same PwC NZ Financial Risk team five years prior to Michael Clarke joining.
 


Kenny Worrell

From: Dallas, Texas
Age: 27
Nickname: The Baron
Current World Ranking: 33
Finals Debut

 
 

The Baron, Kenny Worrell, is currently Treasurer and Director of Finance at RSP Permian in Texas. He works extensively in oil,, gas and natural resources (he’s a Texan, after all!) and was educated at the mighty University of Texas in Austin – where he also met his wife. Kenny has a powerful Finance and Investment background and with his Texan blood, we know he will give the Finals a red-hot go. Working in Investment Banking and Private Equity has surely prepared Kenny well for some of the heaviest technical challenges that lie ahead in the Finals. He’s excelled (sorry for the pun) to date with questions around finance and accounting, so if case studies fall in Kenny’s sweet spot, he’s a contender to claim a podium.

Did You Know? Kenny’s favorite version of Excel was the 2003 version (for which he still uses some of the shortcuts!).
 
 

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