Form Guide: World’s Top 16 Contenders MODELOFF 2013 Financial Modeling World Championships

There’s a lot of hype for the New York Top 16 World Finals in less than 3 weeks’ time (8th December, Register to attend the finals here).  To prepare you, here’s a quick guide to the favourites weighing in from all corners of the world.  Each will take on the best Finance Professionals and Excel Experts in the world for the chance to be crowned the 2013 Financial Modeling World Champion.

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Gavin Jordan, 39, (London, United Kingdom)

EY Corporate Finance, Partner (www.ey.com/UK)

“The British Banker” 

One of the surprise packages of ModelOff 2013. The veteran Corporate Finance professional placed #1 after Round 1 from over 3,000 registered participants with a previously unheard of score of 114/120!!  Yes, Gavin is a Partner at the leading Professional Services giant, EY (which shows you don’t need to be a young gun to star at the New York World Finals!).  No doubt Jordan has deep international experience in Corporate Finance and transactional advisory.  The real question is how he will handle non-traditional areas of Financial Modeling when mixing with the big boys in 4 weeks’ time.  This superstar is on fire; can he stay burning on the biggest global stage of all?

William Glass, 28, (New York, USA)

Perella Weinberg Partners (www.pwpartners.com)

“The Gladiator”

Arguably the most consistent and robust Financial Modeler in the world, Glass finished #2 after Round 1 of ModelOff 2013.  Which isn’t surprising; he consistently finished in the Top 4 for both ModelOff 2012 and ModelOff 2013 online rounds.  Best known for his absolute focus and immense technical precision, he famously finished the “Poker Question” in 35 minutes at the 2012 World Finals; an astonishing performance immortalising Glass in Finance and Excel folklore.  Glass works at Perella Weinberg Partners, a global, independent advisory and asset management firm with approximately $10.3 billion under management.  The real question is – how will Glass cope under the mounting pressure?  His diverse Investment Banking background might prove to be the real differentiator in the World Finals.

Alex  Gordon , 25, (Auckland, New Zealand)

PwC Corporate Finance (www.pwc.co.nz)

“The Young Phenomenon”

Current Financial Modeling World Champion, it’s hard to believe Gordon is only 25-years-old and rated among the most naturally talented and clear thinking practitioners in the world.  The humble Gordon has a prodigious background – Maths, Finance and Accounting – placing him in good stead for a back-to-back victory after his incredibly close duel with Dan Mayoh last year (2012 #2).  PwC Colleagues suggest he’s become even better than last year after having worked on some tough advisory projects with global advisory powerhouse, PwC.  The real question; will Gordon have the hunger and depth of experience needed to take home the Championships a second year running?

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Peter Suen, 29, (Sydney, Australia)

Clean Energy Finance Corporation (www.cleanenergyfinancecorp.com.au).

“Super Suen”

Little-known Suen finished 2nd overall coming into the ModelOff Finals 2013.   His dazzling performance is no surprise when you look at his Australian-educated background – Commerce, Science, Actuarial Science and Mathematics.  Having formerly worked at global powerhouse advisory firm Mercer (they seem to breed a lot of great modelers, especially among young analytical professionals), he appears to have solid VBA skills too. But how will Suen cope with Accounting and heavy Finance questions that might fall outside the traditional quantitative background?  Actuarial communities performed extremely well this year.  Very exciting prospect for a new World Champion.

Diarmuid Early, 28, (New York, United States)

Deutche Bank (www.db.com)

“Mr Early”

The talented Early has worked at prestigious management consultant firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and is currently at Bulge Bracket Investment Banking Firm, Deutche Bank.  His rare mix of left-brain v right brain work experience gives him a real chance to outperform Finalists on the out-of-the box questions.  We wonder though; will Early have the raw keyboard speed to match the super quick Finalists (notably Glass, Gordon, Lim etc)?  If the Finals have some Finance questions that require serious innovation thinking, Early will be a hot favourite.

John Lim, 31, (Melbourne, Australia)

Grant Thornton (www.grantthornton.com.au)

 “The Technician”

Widely regarded as an extreme talent throughout the Asia-Pacific, no one really knew how good Lim was as a world-class Financial Modeler until he stepped onto the stage at ModelOff 2013.  An astonishing 3rd place in Round 2 showed that he’s the real deal.   Lim works for leading global professional services firm, Grant Thornton and has a unique background in IT/software, corporate finance and taxation that will assuredly set him apart technically in New York. Anecdotally, former colleagues and clients have said he’s the best they’ve ever seen technically; he just ‘gets everything’ and ‘really hit the ground running’.  The real question; does Lim have the commercial and innovative business acumen of some of the other Finalists (like Jordan, Glass, Early) that will be required to take the World Title?

Leontios Toumpouris , 28, (Harvard Business School, Boston)

Harvard Business School (www.hbs.edu)

 “The Harvard Kid”

So you’ve seen that TV series ‘House of Lies’ about management consultants? Doug Gougenheim plays the Harvard Excel Whiz’. Although we’ve never met Leontios he might be Gougenhem’s real-life equivalent.  Toumpouris is ranked the world’s #1 student at ModelOff 2013.  Boasting an impressive educational resume including Cambridge University, UK, (this guy really is a star!), he previously worked at top Private Equity houses in the United States as well, which makes us think Toumpouris may just be the definition of A-Class contender.  He had a really strong Round 1 performance in ModelOff 2013 and while we really don’t know what to expect from this young gun he clearly has a good shot at the top.  Last year the world’s top student, Kevin Zhou (now at Goldman Sachs) stepped up, even topping one of the Finals questions.  They’re big shoes to fill but if anyone can fill them, it’s the Harvard Kid.

Vladislav Smirnov, 26, (Russian Federation)

TCS Bank (www.tcsbank.ru/eng)

“Smirnov – The man. The brand”

With a family name like ‘Smirnov’ (just emailing the Vodka brand now for some free promo sponsorship drinks – stay tuned!) we wondered if Vladislav is any relation to his almost identical namesake  Vladimir Smirnov – a world-recognised Mathematician from Russia 100 years ago.  Enough jokes, let’s get back to the World Championship Finals.  Smirnov had top placing among the many powerful Russian financial modeling performers this year and was a very consistent performer across both Rounds 1 and 2.  His three Linkedin Profile interests suggest he was born to be a Finalist at ModelOff 2013; Financial Analysis and Valuation, Corporate Finance and Quantitative Research.  He’s also another of the Finalists who has completed the prestigious CFA Charterholder qualification.  Let’s get down to it though; will Smirnov have the deep technical understanding of Accounting needed to push the big names at ModelOff 2013 off the podium? If there any Finals questions around Statistical Analysis, the smart money is on Smirnov to take the cake.

Hilary Smart, 26, (London, United Kingdom)

Operis (www.operis.com)

 “London Smart”

Despite the number of female participants increasing from 10% (last year) to 19% this year, Hilary is, surprisingly, the only female in the Finals of the 2013 Financial Modeling World Championships.  She boasts a very consistent performance across both Rounds 1 and 2 and appears to be very technically strong.  An alumni of Cambridge University (Mathematics), she currently works for highly regarded international Project Finance firm, Operis. The real question – does she have the wide-ranging breadth of Microsoft Excel tricks, knowledge and commercial instinct needed to beat such a strong group of Finalists?   The high performance of Smart (did you know that SMART is a best practice financial modeling methodology in some parts of the world? It’s true!) suggest she will likely place very well in the 2013 Finals.

Maciej Wilk, 29, (Warsaw, Poland)

LOT Polish Airlines (www.lot.com)

“Big Mack”

The charismatic Polish journeyman was also a Finalist at ModelOff 2012 (note:  4 Finalists from 2012 are returning; Glass, Gordon, Galambos & Wilk).   Remembered for his incredible last minute performance in the Group Challenge, ‘Big Mack’ literally took the keyboard from one of the other Finalist with 3 minutes to go, inserted some incredible Excel switches and Advanced Excel macros, danced across the keyboard and, for the effort, spearheaded the team to earning the $5,000 Spot Prize.  His background in operational modeling and Advanced Excel could be a major advantage if restructuring and cash flow modeling techniques are tested.  What do you think; does “Big Mack” have the technical accounting and statistical skills needed to take the podium position at ModelOff 2013?  He’s a big game player vying for the biggest stage of all.

Andras Galambos, 23, (London, United Kingdom)

Morgan Stanley (www.morganstanley.com)

“Quiet Assassin”

The 22-year-old quiet Hungarian finished 3rd at ModelOff 2012 and now returns for another crack in 2013.  His Round 1 performance was followed up by a thunderously strong Round 2 which earned him a place in New York (maybe he relaxed too much in Round 1?).  Pound-for-pound, the Morgan Stanley powerhouse is undoubtedly one of the best financial analytical talents in the world.  His credit modeling background gives him a competitive advantage on many of the others.  Galambos has calmness and won’t be intimidated by the other Finalists.  As a young gun, does Galambos have the technical skills and wide-ranging versatility of the other Finalists?   Galambos is the danger man and quiet assassin that no one will suspect, until he sneaks up behind to sit on the podium like last year.

Nishan Prabhakaran, 31, (New York, United States)

EY (www.ey.com)

“The Protegee”

Prabhakaran finished in the Top 10 overall after Rounds 1 and 2 and is another of the CFA charterholders among the Finalists.  No doubt he benefits day-to-day from the wisdom and guidance of financial modeling author, John Tjia (EY Partner, New York) and last year’s world finalist, Devon Rochford.  He’s got a real opportunity to step up in his own backyard, New York. EY New York clearly has as enormously strong stable of talent.  If the dynasty keeps it up in future years, it could become the world’s great rivalry with the PwC New Zealand Offices that produces the likes of Alex Gordon & Michael Clarke.

Michael Clarke, 25, (Wellington, New Zealand)

PwC (www.pwc.co.nz)

“The Cricketer”

Another strong performance from the islands of New Zealand, which have Clarke and defending champion Alex Gordon both representing at the Championships.  With an Actuarial and Commerce background, both from Victoria University of Wellington, he’s almost an academic clone of Alex Gordon!   He’s nicknamed ‘The Cricketer’ because he has the same name as Australian cricket captain, Michael Clarke (yes Kiwi’s we did just use an Australian sporting legend to bestow your contender with a nickname!)  What are the chance of the two New Zealanders coming in the world’s Top 3?  I’m sure there’s a spreadsheet somewhere that could work that out…

Alvin Woon, 34, (Hong Kong)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (corp.bankofamerica.com/business/bi/asiapac)

“Winning Woon”

Hong Kong’s very first finalist!  Woon works for top investment bank, BOMA in Portfolio and Pricing Analysis, Asset Finance. We understand his wife is expecting their first child very soon – so his trip to New York from Hong Kong will be brief.  The $30,000 First Prize would certainly help!  Congratulations on the exciting news in any case Alvin. What are his chances? Woon has a weaker Accounting pedigree compared to some of his peers but his other specialties are strong.  Woon has a chance to be counted amongst the best.  Can’t believe he was educated in New Zealand as well (what’s in the water over there?)!

Yuri Gulla, 26, (London, United Kingdom)

Investec (http://www.investec.co.uk)

“The Mailman”

Gulla, across Round 1, Round 2 and all his uploaded models – showed the kind of consistent performance we like among our Finalists.   He’s nicknamed ‘The Mailman’ because he always delivers.  Major international bank Investec is known for hiring professionals who ‘think innovatively’ suggesting that Gulla, along with Diarmuid Early, will shine with complex, out-of-the-box questions.  He should perform well but will need to bring the A-game if he’s going to take on some very hot international Finalists.

Paul Kehoe, 42, (Dublin, Ireland)

KPMG Ireland (www.kpmg.com/ie/‎)

“The Irishman”

The veteran KPMG Director of Risk and Financial Modeling is one of the most experienced contenders in the field, along with UK-based EY Partner, Gavin Jordan.   He’s very likely to dominate any challenges around Accounting and Compliance because experience is always an advantage. Kehoe improved massively from last year (67th) and should be an inspiration to all emerging Financial Modelers around the world to keep improving.  Dreams do happen with persistence and hard work. The low down; as a broadly experienced Financial Modeler, can Kehoe keep up with the two clear clusters of experience types in the World’s Top 16 Finalists?  He needs to watch out if the questions lean either way: Actuarial/Mathematics/Statistician professionals or the Investment Banking/Finance/Credit Analysis credentialed Finalists.

The ModelOff Finals will be taking place on December 8 New York. You can attand the Live Finals at Microsoft New York – Get your tickets here.

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