Being a highly productive financial analyst is not an innate talent; it’s simply a matter of organising your spreadsheets so that you can efficiently get the right calculations and analysis done. Real estate financial analysts in particular…
So, what behaviors define highly productive financial analysts? What habits and strategies make them consistently more productive than others? And what can you do to increase your own analytical productivity?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Organize your space and data. – Highly productive financial analysts have systems in place to help them find what they need when they need it – they can quickly locate the information on rental growth, vacancy rates, property yields, GDP, interest rate. When you’re disorganized, that extra time spent looking for a data or waiting for a colleague to respond to your email with a certain file forces you to delay your analysis. Once you are late, you lose focus and it takes a while to get it back: real time and energy are wasted. Keeping both your data and spreadsheets in an orderly manner is crucial.
2. Focus on simplicity, not complexity. – In other words, do not clutter your spreadsheets, do not use them as databases, there are better software out there for that. The commitment to be a productive financial analyst means that your spreadsheets, and most importantly your formulas, should be clean: this is always the biggest challenge. Even when you have the knowledge and ability to quickly access and interpret your own spreadsheets and formulas, you get to a point where being simultaneously productive on too many fronts at once causes all your analytical power to slow down, stand still and sometimes even slide backwards.
3. Create high impact sheets. – Don’t just get the model done; get the right feel and look done. Communicating your analysis is always more important than the time it takes to achieve it. Stop and ask yourself if the sheets you have created will get you there. Don’t get caught up in the odd details that no one will understand.
4. Work when your mind is most focused. – Highly productive people recognise that not all hours are created equal and they strategically account for this when planning their day. For me, I create better spreadsheets in the morning hours when I am well rested but I write better in the later hours of the day. Just find out when you are most productive on certain tasks and focus on them in these peak performance hours.
5. Work in 90 minute intervals. – In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Tony Schwartz, author of the NY Times bestseller The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, makes the case for working in no more than 90 consecutive minutes before a short break. Schwartz says, “There is a rhythm in our bodies that operates in 90-minute intervals. That rhythm is the ultradian rhythm, which moves between high arousal and fatigue. If you’re working over a period of 90 minutes, there are all kinds of indicators in your physiology of fatigue; so what your body is really saying to you is, ‘Give me a break! ‘”
Join the Cambridge Finance courses for more strategies to become a highly efficient Real Estate Financial Analyst!