The FAST Standard is a set of rules on the structure and detailed design of spreadsheet- based models. The FAST Standard, which was founded over 15 years ago and is used by thousands of Excel modelers worldwide, was written to provide clear guidance for the complex world of spreadsheet based Financial Modeling.
- Flexible: models must be easily adaptable when new information becomes available
- Appropriate: models must faithfully reflect key business assumptions and avoid unnecessary detail
- Structured: maintaining model integrity over time relies on rigorous consistency
- Transparent: to make models easily understandable, calculations must be simple and clear
This standard set of rules provides both a clear route to good financial model design for the individual modeller, and a common style platform on which modellers and reviewers can rely when passing models amongst themselves.
The Signatories to the FAST (flexible, appropriate, structured, and transparent) Standard believe financial models must be as simple as possible, but no simpler. Any model that is unnecessarily complicated is not good. Without simplicity supported by rigorous structure a financial model will be poorly suited to its sole purpose – supporting informed business decisions. Some of the companies that support the Standard are:
The Standard has been developed from the experience of industry practitioners who have learned simple techniques to replace overly-clever ‘good ideas’ that proved bad in practice over time. It documents a skilled craft that is functional within the realities of the business environment. As a minimum objective, models must be free of fundamental omissions and logical errors, and this outcome must be achieved under short lead times.
However, a good model must achieve more than this minimum standard. It must be easily used and reviewed by others and readily adaptable as circumstances change.
The FAST Standard speaks predominantly about outcomes, i.e what the final model should look like. It dwells little on the trade-craft of executing spreadsheet models, with specifics related to Microsoft Excel-based execution. For instance, it does not detail the use of recommended Excel keystrokes or so-called shortcut keys – vastly superior to using a mouse in almost all circumstances – on which the FAST Standard relies.