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Off Balance: Excel makes you ill

DO SPREADSHEETS make you queasy? Make you turn a bit green around the gills? Off Balance’s experience of FDs is that they’re more likely to flush pink and smile inanely at the sight of a pivot table being created.

However, the cryptically named F1F9 [they do data-modelling – Ed] believes that a “plague of spreadsheet sickness” is sweeping across the corporate world, apparently costing businesses “billions of pounds”. OB hasn’t noticed this, but we thought it should be relayed to you.

The worst Excel errors can be linked to real-life illnesses, F1F9 claims. So sleep deprivation is the result of late-night attempts to fix broken spreadsheet models, and malnutrition occurs as a result of replacing ‘superfoods’ with high-sugar drinks and pizza as you muck about with quarterly tables.

OB isn’t convinced, so we bestow upon F1F9 our Captain Obvious Award for the most statistically challenged, or inane, press releases. Congrats.

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  • Kenny Whitelaw-Jones

    Obviously we’re delighted to have won a Captain Obvious Award – it will have pride of place on the F1F9 mantelpiece, thanks guys! Our ebook – “10 signs that spreadsheets are killing your finance function” ( is meant as a light-hearted, tongue very much in cheek look at some of the real problems that are experienced by our clients, caused by spreadsheet chaos. If you, or your readers, don’t identify with any of them, think yourself lucky!

    Thanks again for the award and keep up the great blog!

    PS – we’ll give a free place on a financial modelling course, or some free financial model build support, to the first person that can decrypt our company name and figure out what it means. (Warning: it’s uber geeky!)

    • Jonathan Cairns-Terry

      So F1 is help and F9 is refresh calculations in Excel – per the company name is F1F9 because the company helps people calculate.

      • Jonathan Cairns-Terry

        Do I get the prize? :-)

        • Kenny Whitelaw-Jones

          Hi Jonathan. You certainly do, well done! One of us will be in touch through LinkedIn.

          • Jonathan Cairns-Terry

            Booked in to the February course. Many thanks!

          • Kevin Reed

            A competition through our messageboard…Who would’ve thought it. Well done Jonathan :)

      • Oliver Thornton

        A little anachronistic though, no?

        I was a junior analyst 25 years ago with not one but two PCs.
        Compile excel report on PC 1 and hit F9
        Start working on different report on PC 2 while PC1 slowly counts down.

        Can’t remember the last time I hit F9