Prepare for the Level 1 “Advanced Financial Modeler” (AFM) certification exam with this practical online exam prep course from FMI Master Financial Modeler, Danielle Stein Fairhurst

This intensive course is very hands-on and each participant will be expected to create their own financial models. During the course, participants will use the Excel tools and techniques learned as well as financial modelling best practice to build interactive and dynamic financial models that adhere to the highest industry standards.

Delivered 100% online, this course builds on students’ knowledge of Excel formulas and incorporates these into fully integrated financial models.  At each step during the course, participants build and practice each formula, tool and technique.

What’s included

Sign up to start straight away and gain 12 months access to:

  • FMI exam registration (worth US$695)
  • 7+ hours of on-demand instructional video on the Plum Portal dedicated to FMI Level 1 exam prep
    (includes subtitles in English, French, Hindi and Korean)
  • Excel exercise template and solutions downloads
  • Quiz questions to test your understanding
  • Mock exam case study and solution models
  • Live mock exam virtual sitting two weeks prior to final exam with individualised feedback (worth US$175)
  • The Plum Alumni support centre (worth US$240)
  • Weekly one-on-one live coaching sessions with your instructor in the weeks leading up the exam (worth US$310)

Copies of the books written by your instructor and FMI MFM, Danielle Stein Fairhurst are optional. These are on the FMI recommended reading list and referred to during the course, but are not required for the exam.

Who this qualification is for

This course is suitable for those who wish to earn the Level 1 AFM Certification from the Financial Modeling Institute (FMI).  For more information on the certification, see www.fminstitute.com/afm The AFM program is open to anyone who has an interest in or currently works in the financial markets. From finance students to seasoned industry professionals, the AFM designation is ideal for those who:

  • Understand the fundamentals and methodologies of financial modelling
  • Want to hone and validate their skills
  • Work as part of a larger team to provide support for improvement or new projects
  • Work extensively with Excel in their day-to-day work to make material financial decisions

The FMI exams are held a couple of times a year online. Your purchase includes one sitting of the exam but you must independently register for this exam directly with the institute. This course will prepare you for the FMI exam but your attendance will in no way guarantee your exam results. 


According to FMI, candidates are expected to devote between 25 and 100 hours to preparation in total and attendees should already be familiar with the FMI Body of Knowledge and the skills checklist prior to attending this course.

Software used

To undertake this course, you need Microsoft Excel. Excel 365 is preferred, but participants can use any version of Excel if they prefer, including a Mac. More detail about how the online courses work

About your instructor

Danielle Stein Fairhurst holds a Level 3 Master Financial Modeler qualification (MFM) from the Financial Modeling Institute. In 2021 she first became a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) and in 2022 she received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Financial Modelling Summit.

Modules in this Course

About the Level 1 (AFM) Exam

  • Learning Materials (watch a preview)
  • What to expect on Exam day
  • The Grading Process

Basic Excel skills

  • What’s New in Excel 365
  • Linking for Best Practice
  • Absolute & Relative Cell Referencing
  • Calculating Project Costs
  • Logical Nested Functions
  • Mixed Referencing and Named Ranges

Essential Tools & Formulas

  • Aggregation Functions
  • Formula Selection
  • Data Validations & Drop-Downs
  • Form Controls
  • Macros in Financial Modelling

Financial Modelling Techniques

  • Skills Needed for FM
  • What Makes a Good FM?
  • Building Error Checks
  • Escalation Methods

Financial Modelling Best Practice

  • Model Design
  • Anatomy of a Financial Model
  • Best Practice
  • Shortcuts

Three Way Modelling

  • What is a 3 way financial model?
  • Dummies Case Study: Financial Statements Part 1
  • Dummies Case Study: Financial Statements Part 2
  • Dummies Case Study: Financial Statements Part 3
  • Preparatory Case Study: Building a simple vertical model

Model Planning, Setup and Assumptions

  • Model setup and layout
  • Inputs and assumptions
  • Assumptions Documentation Methods

Designing for scenario analysis

  • Scenarios, Sensitivities and What-if Analysis
  • Building Scenarios Exam Prep

The Revenue Schedule and COGS

  • Setting up the Revenue Schedule
  • Completing the Revenue Schedule
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Building the Depreciation Schedule

  • Depreciation in Financial Modelling
  • Modelling for a Capital Purchase
  • Modelling Depreciation (End of Useful Life)
  • Depreciation Schedule Waterfall

Income Tax Expense and Working Capital

  • Building the Tax Schedule
  • Setting up Working Capital Assumptions
  • Calculating Working Capital

Building the Debt Schedule

  • Debt Definitions
  • Dealing with Circularity in Debt Calculations
  • Modelling a Revolver Line of Credit
  • Components of the Debt Schedule
  • Adding the Revolver
  • Completing the Debt Schedule

Equity & Completing the Financial Statements

  • Equity Schedule Case Study
  • Building the Equity Schedule
  • Piecing together the final components of the financial statements
  • What to do when the balance sheet doesn’t balance
  • Adding Error Checks to your model

Summary Page, Formatting, Presentation and Scenarios

  • Summary page Setup
  • Which Ratios to Include
  • Adding Scenarios
  • Formatting and presentation

Mock Exam case study

  • “Cake to Bake” case study time lapse video (see a shortened preview here)
  • Vertical solution model
  • Horizontal solution model

Mock Exam

Two weeks prior to the exam, you’ll sit an additional Mock exam (a new case study not available elsewhere) and will receive individualised feedback before sitting the final exam.

Course Price (including exam): AUD$1,350+GST (GST not applicable outside Australia)

Take this Course

Course Content

Lessons Status

About the Level 1 (AFM) Exam


Basic Excel skills


Essential Tools & Formulas


Financial Modelling Techniques


Financial Modelling Best Practice


Three Way Modelling


Model Planning, Setup and Assumptions


Designing for Scenario Analysis


The Revenue Schedule and COGS


Building the Depreciation Schedule


Income Tax and Working Capital


Building the Debt Schedule


Equity & Completing the Financial Statements


Summary Page, Formatting, Presentation and Scenarios


Mock Exam Case study