What is the FAST Standard in Finance?

What is the FAST Standard in Finance

What is fast standard/modelling?

FAST is an acronym that stands for Flexible, Appropriate, Structured, and Transparent. It’s a set of guidelines and best practices used in financial modeling and data analysis. The FAST standard is designed to produce models that are both easy to create and simple to understand, enhancing their reliability and usability.

Key principles of FAST

  1. Flexible: The model should be easily adaptable to changing circumstances. It should be designed in a way that allows users to update assumptions without having to make widespread changes to the model itself.
  2. Appropriate: The level of detail and complexity in the model should be tailored to its intended use and audience. An overly complex model may be difficult to understand and use effectively, while an overly simplified one may not provide the necessary insights.
  3. Structured: The model should be organized in a logical manner, making it easy for users to navigate. Consistent layouts, labeling, and color coding can help achieve this.
  4. Transparent: All assumptions and calculations should be clearly laid out and easy to follow. This makes it easier to review, audit, and update the model.

Benefits of using FAST

The FAST standard offers several advantages when it comes to financial modelling and analysis. Here are some of the key benefits:

Improved efficiency

Using a standardized approach like FAST helps in the quicker development and updating of models. It sets a framework for how information should be arranged and processed, reducing the time needed for creating new models or making adjustments to existing ones.

Enhanced reliability

Adhering to the FAST standard can improve the accuracy and reliability of your models. This is especially important in financial modelling where errors can have significant consequences. The structured and transparent nature of FAST makes it easier to spot and correct mistakes, enhancing the model’s integrity.

Easier collaboration

Because FAST promotes clarity and simplicity, it becomes easier for team members to collaborate on the same model. This is particularly helpful in larger organizations where multiple people may need to use or modify a financial model. When everyone understands the structure and layout, it simplifies the process of making collaborative updates or changes.

Simplified auditing and governance

FAST models are designed to be transparent and easily understandable, making them easier to audit. This is important for compliance with financial regulations and for internal reviews. Clear documentation of assumptions, calculations, and sources of data is beneficial for governance and accountability.

What is FAST standard

How it is applied

Typically, FAST is applied in the creation of financial models used for budgeting, forecasting, investment appraisal, and other types of financial analysis. The objective is to make the model as straightforward and user-friendly as possible, without sacrificing the level of detail necessary for accurate decision-making.

Planning

  1. Identify scope: Determine the model’s purpose and the necessary level of detail.
  2. Consult stakeholders: Engage with those who’ll use the model to understand their needs.

Structure

  1. Workbook layout: Organize the workbook into sections like inputs, calculations, and outputs.
  2. Consistency: Maintain a uniform naming convention and layout.

Assumptions

  1. Isolate and document: Keep assumptions separate and clearly state their sources.

Calculations

  1. Simple formulas: Use straightforward calculations to make the model easy to follow.

Outputs

  1. Summary: Highlight key findings and use visual aids for better comprehension.

Review and Maintenance

  1. Peer review: Have the model reviewed for errors and alignment with FAST.
  2. Updates: Regularly review and update the model to keep it current.

By adhering to these steps, you can apply FAST standards to make your financial model effective, reliable, and user-friendly.

fast standard explained

Can Brixx help with FAST standard?

Yes, Brixx is a financial modelling and forecasting software that can potentially help you adhere to the FAST standard. Its features can aid in creating models that align with these best practices. Here’s how:

Flexibility

Brixx allows for easy adjustment of assumptions and variables. This feature aligns with the “Flexible” aspect of FAST, making it easier to adapt your model to changing circumstances without reworking the entire structure.

Appropriateness

Brixx’s customizable nature means you can tailor the complexity of your model to suit its purpose and audience, fitting with the “Appropriate” criterion of FAST.

Structure

The software often comes with pre-defined templates and organized interfaces, which can help create a “Structured” financial model. The user-friendly interface can assist in keeping your workbook organized, thereby saving time and reducing errors.

Transparency

With features that allow for clear documentation and straightforward calculation views, Brixx can help ensure “Transparency” in your financial models. It often provides options to annotate assumptions, making it easier for users to understand the rationale behind them.

In summary, while Brixx may not explicitly be designed to enforce the FAST standard, its features can definitely support you in creating financial models that are flexible, appropriate, structured, and transparent.

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