10 Questions with Amir Zamani (July 2021)
Learn what Amir is doing and seeing in financial models these days, essential home workout gear and more from this talented associate in our consulting group.
How long have you been at The Marquee Group for and what do you do here?
I’m a senior associate and I joined the consulting group in January of 2020. I work with different types of clients in various industries, and attend to their needs, whether it’s building financial models, automation tools or other analytical solutions.
It’s interesting because every client we deal with is different in terms of their business model, structure and their approach to projects. Our goal is to provide them with tools that would enable them to make better decisions in a timely manner. We approach every project with a methodical and rigorous approach that involves due diligence, model design, development and ultimately training the client to efficiently use the tools we build for them.
Where did you work before The Marquee Group?
Prior to joining Marquee, I worked in a corporate advisory and consulting firm. I delivered detailed financial analysis and presentations to clients, as well as identified and evaluated their investment opportunities.
Prior to that, I worked in equity research at one of the leading Canadian investment banks and subsequently in public investments at one of the Canadian pension funds.
What would you say makes a really good financial model?
I would say a good financial model should be easily transferable from one user to another, and be fully automated and dynamic. All inputs and hardcodes should be in a specific segment and not dispersed across different worksheets. The model should have a simple interface with a modular design for easy additions and modifications.
A good financial model should also have a dynamic dashboard that delivers all the key drivers and outputs in a snapshot for the client, and they’d be able to roll the model forward and it would provide them with the information that they want.
What types of innovations are you tracking in the financial modeling space?
Many of our clients come to us with requests for detailed FP&A models with rolling budgets or valuation analysis. However some clients also require additional complexity and enhanced dynamic features that requires us to incorporate VBA or Python. So we’ve been adapting these programming languages into some of our projects and it’s been trending more often.
It’s particularly really exciting to be able to work with VBA. A lot of the automation becomes easier and it also allows for more flexibility on what the client wants. We have some interesting projects where for example one client wants to be able to transfer what they see in Excel to other Microsoft applications with just one click. So that requires some VBA work where you transfer what you have in Excel such as graphs, charts, tables, into your PowerPoint slides all fully formatted. So that’s an example of an interesting project in this space.
Enough about work, can you tell us if you’ve lived in other cities and have you done a lot of travelling?
I moved to Toronto when I was 13 and I lived in Iran before that. I love traveling and whenever I get a chance (pre-pandemic) obviously it was more convenient to do so. For example, I’ve been to Europe, I’ve done like a two month Euro trip where I went to like 16 or 17 different cities. I also go to the U.S. as I have a lot of friends and family there, so it’s always fun just to be able to take some time off to go traveling and see other places.
What types of activities do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’m big into sports. I used to go to the gym often before the pandemic and now I’ve switched to home workouts but the gym has been a daily routine for me.
In terms of other sports I used to be a soccer player and a swimmer. I was even a lifeguard back in the day. I also like playing basketball and I got into kickboxing as well. Staying active was one thing that I found that helps get your mind off of things.
How do you do your home workout?
I bought some equipment such as adjustable dumbbells, a bench and bands. It’s not as flexible as going to the gym but a lot of the exercises I’m able to do at home. I just have to watch out for dropping the dumbbells!
Do you drink coffee or tea?
Coffee 100%. I make my own with a Nespresso machine. It’s easy to use and I usually have two or three cups a day.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
That’s a good question because Toronto has a lot of good restaurants. The Persian restaurants are pretty good here, I love Greek food, Italian, but in terms of my favorite restaurant that would be Barberians Steak House.
Do you prefer an L-shaped enter key, or straight?
I’d say straight, like all my laptops as far as I remember, they were straight, but I also might’ve had a keyboard from a desktop a long time ago that was L-shaped. You know it takes space on the keyboard, so why have it?