Is R or Python better than Excel for accounting and financial analysis? It seems what you gain in flexibility, you lose in transparency.

2020-04-05 08:59发布

2楼-- · 2020-04-05 09:02

Yes. Excel is terrible for non-trivial tasks. That 'transparency' you speak of is actually a reson why it's foolish to use Excel for anything that really matters: there's no separation between data entry, data storage, logic, and output. One wrong mouse click and you have either an incorrect data point or, worse, a logic error.

Hell, I could rant for days about why Excel is the wrong tool for the job, but as for why coding is better - in addition to safety, execution speed, efficiency, power, and flexibility, it's also far more transparent because there's an exact written record of everything that happened between reading in the data and outputting results. You simply don't get that with a point-and-click program.

If you care about your data, the accuracy of your results, or transparency of your methods, let Excel die.

3楼-- · 2020-04-05 09:06

For building income statements, balance sheets, and cash-flow statements, there is no tool better than Excel. It is silly to try and build those things in Python or R—that would be like asking a Nobel-prize winning economist to look over your credit card statement. It’s a bit too much tool for the job, not to mention, for those types of things, it is the visual nature of Excel which makes it the best tool for the job.

If, however, you want to take 20 years of balance sheets and cash-flow statements, apply random-walk analysis, subject it to a logit model, or use 25 disparate economic variables to model how these items may evolve over time…well, R or Python are your best choice. You’ll just break Excel trying to do all of that there.

4楼-- · 2020-04-05 09:07

Excel is great tool when used as analytical tool. The problem is: many people don’t. Then Excel turns into your worst nightmare if it’s in the core processes.

The two main errors I observe are:

  • storing massive amounts of data in Excel, creating a shadow administration
  • Unprotected formulas, where people replace formulas with hard values to correct an “error” in the data

For most small tasks Excel works as a charm. And with the right extensions it’s an even more powerful tool. The point where you should consider R or Python is when you find yourself creating macros to analyze large data sets.

You are already programming and bringing it to a platform tuned for analysis is the better choice.