How to build financial models for FP&A in Causal

Causal recently released a new update that adds a spreadsheet-style UX to their traditional (and innovative) card-based UX for creating financial models, allowing you to easily switch between user experiences and use the best UX for your usecase. [1]

If you have used Causal's traditional card-based UX, you may have liked the fresh approach to creating inputs and calculations and reports to analyze the results. Or, you may have found yourself struggling to adopt to a non-spreadsheet style interface for inputting data, or found doing some specific time-based inputs difficult to do. Now, Causal allows you to easily toggle between those interfaces to use the best one for your situation. Watch the video above to see a quick demo of it in action.

How to use Causal

  • Causal is great for creating analyses to share with people (here's a recent example from Sacra), but is also a tool for managing a company's financials. Pricing and feature breakdown here.
  • Causal offers a great web interface for creating, sharing, and working collaboratively on models, but you're not locked in to Causal. You can sync to Google Sheets or export to Excel the data outputs of a model, and (in beta) export a working model with formulas to Excel.
  • As usual, in spreadsheet view blue numbers are inputs, black numbers are calculations from a formula.
  • Not as usual, in spreadsheet view if a number doesn't change across a row then only the first column value is shown, if it changes over time then a sparkline appears and the numbers will appear in the cell. Different, but allows you to scan a wall of numbers faster in my opinion.
  • One interesting aspect to the approach, in my mind, is the notion of "periods". Instead of each cell having its own formula, by default Causal prompts you to input a formula into the first column, and that formula is applied across all cells in a row. You can change that by creating periods into rows, enabling you to easily create multiple formulas across the same row. Some may say that makes it harder to audit a model - I subscribe to the standard that a formula should be exactly the same across an entire row - but the UX makes it apparent where periods exist and formulas change, so that aids in auditing how a model works. Here is Causal's documentation on Spreadsheet view.
  • Data tables in Causal is a separate feature from spreadsheet view, but it adds an extra layer for inputting data to create bottoms-up models. Details here.
  • If you're curious, in the video I first briefly showed the Ecommerce Financial Model, which you can easily clone and copy into your own Causal account, and then use and edit in any way you would like.

Questions, ask anytime.

  1. Taylor Davidson, founder of Foresight, is a personal angel investor in Causal. ↩︎