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Python in Excel: Bankers aren't bothered; try hedge funds

No one uses Excel much more than a banker and no one is under pressure to learn Python much more than someone with aspirations to work in banking, so this week's news that Python will now be integrated into Excel might be considered a helpful thing for bankers.

Apparently not. 

"In investment banking divisions, the datasets are never so big that you would need Python," says one Goldman Sachs M&A associate. When big data crunching is required, he says it's simply outsourced to teams in India.

He's not alone in this perception. "Excel in banking is about keeping things simple," says one analyst at a rival bank."With a good financial model, you can directly understand what's going on, even if you didn't build the model yourself, so using complicated formulas is a bad thing to do. Introducing Python would complicate the modelling process even more and make it difficult for people to grasp."

He adds that while he coded a lot in Python at university, it's not needed in M&A jobs. "People who are good with coding can already use VBA but in investment banking this is discouraged," he says.

An associate at a European bank says the addition of Python to Excel is simply a "gimmick." Instead, he says user-friendly tools like PowerBi (a Microsoft data visualization product) are taking off for analysis of a lot of data. "I don’t see a need for us to know the intricate details of object-oriented Python programming anytime soon. But being able to more easily unpick high level commercial trends from large datasets can be quite useful sometimes!"

While bankers aren't bothered, however, traders and hedge fund analysts seem a lot more excited about Python's Excel incursion. "I'm just amazed it took so long. VBA to the dustbin (it may take a while)," says one algorithmic trader. Geoff Robinson, the former global head of fundamental analytics at UBS and founder of theinvestmentanalyst.com says it's "a big deal" given that Python is well-used by research teams working with massive datasets.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • __
    __mharrison__
    26 August 2023

    I teach a lot of Python, machine learning, and Pandas (the library that Excel uses under the covers). I just have a keynote on Pandas to a large US financial institution. There is a lot of interest in this and I'm planning on helping train a lot of these folks.

  • Da
    DanEdens
    26 August 2023

    That guy is a filthy causal. I found his lack of grasping the power of python in Excel pathetic.

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