Introduction to 3 Way Financial Modeling and Common Pitfalls to Avoid

A three way financial model (3WM) is a comprehensive tool that allows its users to view the interactions between a business’s revenue, cost and cash flow performance. It’s designed to connect various components of a business’s profit and loss statement and balance sheet with a robust financial forecasts. The main purpose of the model is to project future performance and adjust cash flow accordingly.

Despite being an ideal tool for financial forecasting, 3WM also has certain pitfalls that must be avoided. This blog post will discuss the three common pitfalls that occur when creating a three way financial model and how to prevent them from occurring.

Overview of Common Pitfalls

  • Inaccurate data entry
  • Incomplete models
  • Ignoring the implications of alternative scenarios

Key Takeaways:
  • Be careful when entering data into a three way financial model.
  • Complete the model before running forecasts.
  • Include alternative scenarios.

Pitfall One: Lack of Tracking Different Profit and Loss Statements

In cost accounting, the 3 Way Financial Model is used to recommend financial decisions and to calculate the financial effects of activities over time. The 3 Way Financial Model includes three components: a profit loss statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement. Obviously, tracking the three components of the financial model separately is essential. If your company fails to take this into account when monitoring its financial performance, it can potentially lead to troublesome issues.

Overview of the Necessity of Tracking Different Profit and Loss Statements

Each of the three statements plays a significant role in profitability and solvency. The profit and loss statement is a document that summarizes the income and expenses of a business over the course of a year. It provides company owners with an overview of what money is coming in and what money is going out, which is beneficial for understanding the financial health of the business.

The balance sheet is arguably the most important statement in the financial reports of a business. It details the assets and liabilities of the business, as well as the equity whereas the cash flow statement shows how much cash has been collected or paid out during a specific time frame. It accounts for both in-flows and out-flows of cash and is used to measure the liquidity of the business.

Reasons Why this is a Potential Issue for 3 Way Financial Model

Not tracking the three components of the model separately can result in huge problems. Without accurate tracking of the three reports, the company will not be able to accurately assess the financial performance of the business and make the right decisions for the future. Consequently, this could lead to financial difficulties later on. Here are several of the most common issues that might occur:

  • The lack of accurate data will lead to incorrect financial projections
  • The company might be unable to accurately assess its financial status
  • It will be more difficult to create a budget and track performance
  • The company might not be able to take advantage of any potential advantages in the market

Overall, the lack of tracking different profit and loss statements can have extremely detrimental consequences for the 3 Way Financial Model and the business in general. If a company wants to be successful, it must ensure that it is actively tracking the three components of the model and make the proper changes based on the data collected. Taking the time to set up an accurate tracking system and regularly monitoring the three statements is key to a successful 3 Way Financial Model.

Pitfall Two: Poor Estimation of Cash Flows

It is important to accurately estimate cash flows when creating a 3 Way Financial Model, as inaccurate estimations can lead to problems in decision-making and lead to unexpected losses. The complexity of a 3 way financial model requires a strong understanding of the market, taxation, and local regulations, as well as the ability to forecast future cash flows.

Overview of the importance of accurate cash flow estimation

A critical component of finance is cash flows, or the rate of money going in and out of the business. It is essential to accurately predict cash flows when creating a 3 way financial model. To do this, known factors such as seasonality, average cost of products, and customer payment cycles must be taken into account.

Underestimating cash flow can result in a lack of available funds for growth and operations. Cash flow should always be given priority when assessing any investment or growth opportunities with a 3 way financial model.

Reasons why this is a potential issue for 3 Way Financial Model

Understanding the potential pitfalls is key in creating a 3 way financial model. Common pitfalls when it comes to cash flow estimation include:

  • Improper forecasting: Analysing historic data alone is not enough for proper financial forecasting when creating a 3 way financial model. Other factors such as market dynamics, macroeconomic factors, and competition must be taken into account to ensure accuracy.
  • Inaccurate estimates of cost of goods sold (COGS): A 3 way financial model requires the estimation of the cost required to produce goods and services. It is important to accurately estimate COGS in order to properly forecast cash flow.
  • Ignoring tax implications: Taxes can have a significant impact on cash flow. Ignoring taxation when creating a 3-way financial model may lead to inaccurate results. Tax implications must be taken into consideration in order to more accurately forecast cash flow.

In summary, it is essential to accurately estimate cash flows when creating a 3 way financial model in order to make sound decisions and investments. To do this, understanding the market, assessing economic factors, properly estimating cost of goods sold, and considering tax implications are all necessary steps in achieving an accurate cash flow estimation.

Pitfall Three: Failure to Take Into Account Accounting Fundamentals

Creating an accurate 3 way financial model requires full consideration of the most common accounting and financial fundamentals. Failure to do so can lead to an insufficient representation of a company’s financial position. This can include, but is not limited to, incorrect cash flow and profit and loss statements.

Overview of the Need for Consideration of Accounting Fundamentals

When constructing a 3-way financial model, it’s important to be aware of the most basic accounting and financial fundamentals. This includes, but is not limited to, considerations of amortization, depreciation and any relevant accounts payable or receivable. Ensuring that all of these considerations are taken into account can help to create an accurate financial model.

Reasons Why This is a Potential Issue for 3 Way Financial Model

Not properly considering the fundamental accounting and financials can lead to inaccurate analysis, preventing one from taking effective measures to improve the situation. This incorrect information could potentially be used to make crucial decisions which could have a major detrimental impact, both on the company and its stakeholders. As such, the failure to take into account accounting fundamentals may result in businesses not being properly equipped to make key decisions in order to capitalize on potential opportunities.

  • Inaccurate analysis due to failure to consider accounting fundamentals can lead to incorrect decisions.
  • Incorrect decisions may have a major detrimental impact on the company, its stakeholders and its potential opportunities.

Pitfall Four: Overlooking Non-recurring Costs

When creating a 3-way financial model, accounting for non-recurring costs is a critical step. Although these costs are not necessarily common, overlooking them can lead to significant inaccuracies when calculating projections. To ensure an accurate forecast, all non-recurring costs must be accounted for in order to paint an accurate financial picture.

Overview of the importance of accounting for non-recurring costs

Non-recurring costs are costs that are expected to occur once or rarely and differ from on-going or routine operating expenses. As such, accurately tracking and accounting for them is essential to obtain an accurate 3 way financial model. Examples of non-recurring costs include major equipment purchases, legal fees, severance payments, research or development expenditure, or one-time sales. While some non-recurring costs have a direct impact on the cash flow, others have an indirect impact on the profitability of the business. Therefore, failing to account for non-recurring costs could lead to inaccurate assessments of the financial health of the business.

Reasons why this is a potential issue for 3 Way Financial Model

Inaccurately tracking non-recurring costs may lead to a discrepancy between the actual cash flow and the 3 way financial model, at least on a short-term basis. Moreover, if the non-recurring costs are not planned correctly, they may result in unexpected cash outflows that could threaten the liquidity of the business. Furthermore, non-recurring costs may create variances in the operating results that may have a significant impact on the profitability of the business. Finally, non-recurring costs can also have an effect on the balance sheet and could significantly alter the net worth.

In conclusion, it is important to account for all non-recurring costs when creating a 3 way financial model. Failing to do so could lead to errors in the projections and put the business in a precarious financial situation. Therefore, all businesses should take the time to properly plan for and include all non-recurring costs when creating a 3-way financial model.

Pitfall Five: Ignoring Macro-Economic Factors

Creating a 3 Way Financial Model involves making projections and weighing various factors. It is vital to consider macro-economic factors as part of the modelling process too. An understanding the way the economy works, and the effect of changes in market conditions, are both integral to having an accurate and effective three-way financial model. Macro-economic factors range from events such as wars and natural disasters to political decisions and have the capacity to have a huge effect on the stability of investment portfolios.

Overview of the Necessity of Acknowledging Macro-Economic Factors

When creating a 3 Way Financial Model, understanding macro-economic conditions is an essential component to take into account. As such, it has the potential to affect the entire model. Depending on the market conditions, a 3 Way Financial Model that might have provided beneficial outcomes in the past may no longer demonstrate the same accuracy or success when creating projections. By neglecting macro-economic factors the modeler can easily miss external threats, which could affect the ultimate success of their model.

Reasons Why this is a Potential Issue for 3 Way Financial Model

Long-term financial models should be created by considering external impacts such as macro-economic factors. This can include everything from global events to political developments to national catastrophes. The modelling process should also consider changing market trends and technological advancements. The inclusion of macro-economic and other external factors can have an effect on the projected outcomes of the 3 Way Financial Model, which is an essential part of the process of creating an accurate model.

The following are potential pitfalls to avoid when creating a 3 Way Financial Model in order to ensure accuracy:

  • Ignoring macro-economic factors
  • Failing to account for external threats
  • Neglecting to include changing market trends
  • Not considering technological advancements


Creating a 3 way financial model requires careful attention to detail, as there are a few common pitfalls to avoid for optimal results that can prevent your investment objectives from being met properly. By understanding what these pitfalls are and how to avoid them, you provide yourself with a much greater chance of success in achieving your goals.

Summary of the 5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Creating a 3 Way Financial Model

  • Not including all of the relevant cash flows in the model.
  • Failure to accurately adjust the times of cash flows.
  • Incorrectly assigning risk factors.
  • Not accounting for the impact of inflation.
  • Failing to effectively use sensitivity analysis.

Guidance on How to Meet Objectives Properly with a 3 way Financial Model

In order to ensure a successful outcome when creating a 3 way financial model, follow the guidance below:

  • Ensure that all relevant cash flows have been included.
  • Ensure the timing of cash flow is accurate.
  • Properly assign risk to the right areas of the model.
  • Use inflation to adjust the cash flows.
  • Conduct a sensitivity analysis to understand the potential outcomes of different scenarios.

By following this guidance and understanding the potential pitfalls, you can maximize the results of your 3 way financial model and ensure that you are able to meet your investment goals.

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