An early retiree named Brandon could have kept his secrets to himself, but that’s not the way some spreadsheet superstars tend to act.
A 34-year-old software developer named Brandon likes to call himself “Mad Fientist,” but he might also be described as an outstanding example of how to act like your own personal CFO.
Business Insider recently profiled Brandon — who refuses to say his last name but lives someone in Vermont with his wife — for the fact that he was able to manage his money well enough that he has already retired. Of course, he has Excel spreadsheets to thank for it:
On Mad Fientist, Brandon offers a free, downloadable Excel spreadsheet to help others calculate when they can afford to retire. It’s not the exact one he uses — since he built this version in 2014, he’s made some tweaks to his own — but lays out the most important factors, accounts, and balances he’s been tracking for years.
The article goes on to walk through all five tabs of the spreadsheet in question, conceivably allowing almost anyone to reach his level of prosperity and freedom.
Of course, it’s one thing to work with a single salary versus running the finance department of a large organization, but there’s something impressive about the way Brandon not only uses spreadsheets to reach his goal, but seems to put nearly as much effort in sharing that knowledge with the rest of the world.
This spirit of generosity and service can take the results of working with technology to unprecedented new levels, which may be why CFOs are becoming more conscious about who they include on their team. At least, that was the indication from a survey of more than 500 finance directors by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) that was shared with the U.K.’s City A.M. newspaper:
The top personal qualities likely to be in demand in the future were: being a likeable person, being trustworthy, showing resilience, being enthusiastic and positive, and not being afraid of change. The report also showed companies were increasingly expecting a good command of technology from their bean-counting crew.
Ironically, this article was headlined, “Why spreadsheet skills alone won’t make the finance chiefs of the future.” The thing is, no one ever said knowing Excel was the only path to success in corporate finance.
A “mad fientist” like Brandon shows that you can have not only technical savvy but an upbeat, people-oriented approach to making the best use of the tools. Hopefully there will be a lot more Brandons in the next generation of CFOs — provided they don’t all retire early, of course.
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