Data visualization is the graphical representation of data in a visual format, such as charts, graphs, and tables. This graphical representation allows data to be interpreted quickly, accurately, and easily to gain insight into a set of data. Financial modeling is the process of creating a representation of a financial situation by using mathematical models, values, and variables. It is used to analyze the past performance or prediction the future performance of a business or investment.

By combining data visualization and financial modeling, businesses and investments can make informed decisions using powerful visuals. In this blog post, we will explore the advantages of leveraging data visualization to enhance a financial model. We will look at the importance of data visualization, the advantages of using data visualization tools, and best practices for creating effective financial models.

Key Takeaways

  • Importance of data visualization in financial modeling
  • Advantages of using data visualization tools
  • Best practices for creating effective financial models

Advantages of Data Visualization in Financial Modeling

Data Visualization makes financial modeling more efficient and helpful. Here some of the advantages it provides.

  • Improved comprehension of financial data: By using data visualizations, users can identify patterns and correlations quickly and accurately in a way that examining financial data in a spreadsheet could never replicate. Data visualizations can provide a comprehensive snapshot of a company’s financial data that illuminates long-term trends, risks and opportunities.
  • Increased ability to identify relationships: Financial modeling requires the ability to identify interrelationships between financial and economic variables. Data visualizations can help identify connections between a company’s performance, economic conditions, and other factors that could impact its success.
  • Ability to track progress and make quicker decisions: Data visualizations can provide a snapshot of a company’s current performance, allowing decision makers to quickly respond to changes and make informed decisions. Visual displays of data can also be used to assess progress over time and to identify potential problems that could be corrected before they become major issues.

Data Visualization Tools for Financial Modeling

Data visualization is a key part of financial modeling. It allows business stakeholders to quickly gain insights from large and complex data sets without having to read through a long document of raw data. With the right tools, financial analysts are able to create powerful visualizations that offer clear, concise, and understandable information. Here we will discuss the top three data visualization tools that should be considered when performing financial modeling.

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is one of the most widely used data visualization tools. Excel has powerful visualization tools, such as pivot tables and charts, that can be used to transform data into insights. Financial analysts use Excel to create graphs, charts, and other visuals, to present a comprehensive overview of financial performance. The intuitive and easy-to-use interface means that Excel can be used by both experienced and novice financial analysts alike. Additionally, Excel can be integrated with other software applications, like Power BI, to generate even more powerful visuals.


Tableau is a powerful data visualization tool designed specifically for financial modeling. Tableau has robust features for linking data, creating custom visuals, and performing calculations. Tableau is also highly interactive and allows users to drag, drop, and select data points to create visualizations. Tableau's visualizations can be used to tell stories with data and uncover insights that may otherwise be hidden. With Tableau, financial analysts are able to quickly and accurately create visualizations that can help make more informed decisions.


Matplotlib is an open-source visualization library that is used in Python programming. It is well-suited for financial modeling because it allows financial analysts to tailor detailed visualizations and make quick adjustments. Matplotlib is used to create custom visuals and generate informative data graphics like histograms, scatterplots, and bar charts. The software is highly versatile and can be used to create visuals for a variety of different applications.

Data Points to Include

Presenting financial data can be challenging. Often complex topics can be conveyed more clearly by leveraging data visualization. A well-designed chart or graph can communicate volumes of data in an efficient way. This can make it easier for those viewing the model to understand and interpret the data.

Profitability Indicators

Profitability indicators should be included in financial models as part of the data visualizations. These can include such items as return on investment, revenue and net income. These key performance indicators help to provide an overall view of the profitability of the business. Additionally, these indicators can be used to compare financial performance against competitors and industry averages.

Financial Performance

Financial performance can also be visualized by way of data visualizations within a financial model. This can include items such as expenditures, cost of goods sold and total assets. This information is essential in understanding the overall financial health and performance of the enterprise.

Break-Even Analysis

Break-even analysis is another essential tool that can be used to visualize financial data. This type of chart or graph can help to visualize the point of profitability, or break-even point. This point is when the cost of goods sold equals the total income, or sales minus all operating costs. Having this information visualized can help to inform decisions about pricing and other operations decisions.

Common Financial Modeling Visualizations

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this holds especially true in financial modeling. Data visualization is an effective way for finance professionals to concisely make critical come to life by creating easy-to-read charts and graphs. Going beyond basic charting, financial models can benefit from modern technologies to create useful and attractive visual depictions of data.

Waterfall Charts

A waterfall chart, also called a bridge chart, is a popular financial visualization tool. It is most often used to display the cumulative effect of positive and negative changes over time, such as in cost-benefit analysis or budgeting. It is also used to demonstrate balance sheets or progress in coin-and-cash flow models. Waterfall charts identify the sources and uses of cash, and display the effect of individual changes on the total. This makes it easier for decision makers to quickly see the impact of their decisions and makes complex financial data intuitive and memorable.


Business dashboards are a great tool for financial modelers to bring their data alive by displaying key performance indicators (KPIs) and allowing users to explore different aspects of their model. The KPIs can be displayed as graphs, maps, tables and charts, enabling users to gain greater insight into their models and quickly identify areas they should study more closely. By creating insights with their dashboards, finance professionals can make informed decisions based on up-to-date and easily understandable results.

Box Plots

Box plots, also known as box-and-whisker diagrams, are ubiquitous as a visual representation of data. They provide a simple way to display the quartiles of a data set and identify outliers. This makes them a popular tool for financial modelers. A box plot enables a user to quickly identify at what points in their model something seems off or warrants further exploration. This is especially useful for financial models in which performance evaluation or what-if scenarios are necessary. Through graphical analysis, the user can prioritize and focus their further investigations.

Best Practices

Data visualization is a powerful tool to gain insight into financial data and understand the larger impact of decisions made by businesses. When using data visualization to model financial information, there are several best practices to ensure maximum efficiency and accuracy.

Establish Data Reliability

The first step in leveraging data visualization in financial modeling is to establish data reliability. To ensure the accuracy of data points, research the source, double-check the integrity of data points, and inquire as to any missing data before using the points in a visualization. Establishing data reliability is key in obtaining reliable insights.

Focus on Qualitative and Quantitative Data

Financial modeling should leverage both qualitative and quantitative data in a visualization. Qualitative data can be used to identify trends and patterns whereas quantitative data can be used to provide more precise and accurate information for further analysis. Incorporating both qualitative and quantitative data can help contextualize the data from different perspectives and build a story from the information.

Create Dynamic Visuals

Where possible, dynamic visuals should be created to compare different data points in a meaningful way. Dynamic visuals give a more comprehensive picture of the data and can help interpret the information more efficiently. Additionally, dynamic visuals can also help uncover relationships between data points that can be difficult to see with static visuals.

By following these best practices and leveraging data visualization, businesses can effectively model financial information and uncover valuable insights that can be used to make more informed decisions.


Data visualization is an increasingly powerful tool for creating successful financial models. Through careful consideration and understanding of data sets, data visualization is able to provide the necessary insights to financial models that would otherwise not be readily available. The outputs of this data visualization can then be used to drive decisions when creating financial models. This, in turn, can give organizations an advantage as they strive towards their financial goals.

By utilizing data visualization techniques when creating financial models, organizations can generate a better understanding of their data sets and overall financial models. This provides the necessary insights to create more accurate and successful financial models. In addition, data visualization provides the ability to visualize multiple sets of data and trends in order to more accurately predict future outcomes. This can then be used to inform financial models and make them more effective.

It is clear that data visualization has the potential to be a powerful tool in the creation of financial models. By leveraging the insights that data visualization provides, organizations can create more successful financial models that are able to meet their desired financial goals.

Expert-built startup financial model templates

500+ Excel financial model templates for your business plan