There was a useful article last week by Lisa Pollack in the FT on spreadsheet errors in financial models. I’ve read some of the points before but there were some useful references to new research on the extent of errors. When teaching real estate appraisal, there’s been a long-running debate amongst the lecturers regarding the use of commercial software versus Excel. Of course it doesn’t need to be either/or – we could (should?) include both in our programmes. Typically we’ve focussed on Excel. The most important motive is that it gives students a crucial transferable skill. It should also improve their understanding of the cash flows that determine the performance of the underlying assets. However, as real estate academics, few of us have in-depth knowledge of Excel modelling techniques. As a lecturer, I’ve found the Ascension platform to be an invaluable support here (they really need a web presence). We sometimes get feedback from a few employers (feedback from them is usually welcome by the way) that they’d like the graduates to have knowledge of Argus. We tend to agree and think that it should complement Excel. One problem is that most of us lecturers don’t use Argus day-to-day and don’t have a strong working knowledge of it. As ever, it’s work in progress.