The three-way financial model is a term used to describe an organization’s financial planning process, which involves three components—allowance, capital, and expense. This model allows greater flexibility and control over the allocation of funds within an organization. It also enables organizations to focus on the long-term effects of their decisions.

Definition of Three-Way Financial Model

In a three-way financial model, an organization considers three categories of expenses—allowance, capital, and expense—when creating its financial plans. The allowance is a set sum of money allocated for long-term projects or investments. Capital is a category of resources that can be used for business purposes, such as borrowing or investing funds. Lastly, the expense is incurred when goods or services are obtained in the short-term.

Purpose of a Three-Way Financial Model

The purpose of the three-way financial model is to promote financial discipline within an organization. This model allows organizations to understand the dynamics of their financial structure and allocate funds accordingly. Additionally, this model also helps organizations identify areas where costs can be reduced or investments can be made to increase long-term growth and profitability.

  • Allows for greater flexibility and control over the allocation of funds.
  • Helps to promote financial discipline.
  • Enables organizations to understand the dynamics of their financial structure.
  • Provides a structure for identifying areas of cost-cutting and investments for long-term growth.

Key Takeaways

  • Allocation of funds is better managed with a three-way financial model.
  • Allows for long-term effects to be focused on.
  • Capital, allowance and expense categories are analyzed.
  • Cost-cutting and future investments can be identified.

Types of Three-Way Financial Models

The three-way financial model is a tool that businesses use to assess and define the financial dynamics of their operations. It mainly consists of three types of models: equity-based, debt-based, and wealth-based. Depending on the industry, size of the business, and its particularities, one or a combination of these models may be applied. Let’s get into a deeper understanding of each of them.


This model is based on the concept of ownership. The primary goal of a business using an equity-based model is to increase the value of its stocks. By doing so, the business can generate additional capital for special needs such as expanding operations, investing in new technology, etc. Other common methods to achieve the same objectives include offering dividends to investors and repurchasing stocks.


The debt-based model refers to an approach where the business takes on debt in order to finance its operations over a period of time. This type of model requires close monitoring of debt levels, as too much debt can cause severe financial instability and even lead to insolvency. The goal of this model is to create long-term financial stability.


This model focuses on increasing the value of the company’s assets. This approach aims to generate capital by exchanging the assets of the business with potential investors or through taking on investments. It also provides additional income to the business by charging fees in various forms such as insurance payments, royalities, etc.

Understanding the Dynamics of the Three-Way Financial Model: Equity-Based Model

An equity-based model is a type of financing arrangement whereby funds are raised through investment in the company’s equity. The investor offers to purchase a share of the company’s stock in exchange for funds, which are then used to fuel the company’s operations or for other purposes. This particular model is characterized by the company’s nature as a closely held entity, whereby investors play a specific role in terms of managing the company’s assets and operations, in addition to providing the capital.

What it is and how it works

The company does not issue securities relating to public offerings in an equity-based model. Instead, it allows investors to make investments directly into the company, regardless of the size and scope of operations. An individual investor may purchase a share of the company’s equity in exchange for a certain amount of cash or cash equivalents. As such, the investor takes part in the company’s ownership and may have the right to vote in matters relating to the company’s operations or receive dividends.

Another distinct feature of the equity-based model is the equity giving rights to the holders of the company’s stock, whereby holders have the ability to purchase additional stock or have the right of first refusal when it comes to any new issuance of stock. Depending on the terms of the equity, holders may also receive certain privileges such as discounts on products or services, pre-emptive rights on new stock issues, and more.

Benefits of an equity-based model

An equity-based model has many advantages for the company and the investor. For the company, the amount of capital it can raise is not limited. Since there is no need to issue securities, the company can raise any amount of capital desired, allowing it to have more flexibility in terms of operations, investments, and growth. The company also has more control over the terms and conditions of the investment, and the ability to tailor the terms to its needs and the needs of the potential investors.

For the investor, an equity-based model can yield benefits such as higher returns in comparison to alternative financial arrangements, and the opportunity to have a say in the company’s operations and investments. Additionally, the investor may also benefit from the rise in the company’s share price over time, and through the sale of the company’s stock, if situation warrants.

  • Company has more control over the terms and conditions of the investment
  • Investor may benefit from higher returns
  • Investor may gain a say in the company’s operations and investments
  • Investor may benefit from the rise in the company’s share price
  • Insulated against fluctuations in the market

Debt-Based Model

The debt-based model is a modern, three-way financial model that involves the use of debt as a form of financing. It is a form of financing that is used by companies and organizations to finance their operations and investments without relying solely on equity contributions from shareholders or bond issuers. In this model, debt is used to finance operations, while shareholders and bond issuers provide equity capital to the company. This model provides companies with more flexibility in their operations and the ability to leverage their existing capital.

What it is and how it works

The debt-based model works by using debt financing to fund the company’s operations and investments in a way that the company’s total liabilities do not exceed its total assets. This enables the company to use its existing resources more efficiently and provide greater value for its shareholders and bondholders. In this model, companies can access debt financing either directly from a lender or through issuing bonds to raise capital. The debt-based model also enables the company to increase its borrowing capacity, which can be used to invest in new projects or expand existing ones.

Benefits of Debt-Based Model

The debt-based model offers a number of advantages for companies, including:

  • Greater Flexibility: Companies can use debt to finance their operations and investments, while still keeping their total liabilities in line with their total assets. This allows them to take advantage of opportunities that may otherwise be out of reach with an equity-based approach.
  • Reduced Risk: By having access to external financing, companies can spread out the risks associated with their operations and investments throughout the course of the loan. This reduces the risk that any one party is left holding the majority of the risk.
  • Increased Capacity: By leveraging the existing capital of their investors, companies can increase their borrowing capacity and invest in new projects or expand existing ones.
  • Cost Savings: By using debt instead of equity, companies can reduce their financing costs, as debt lenders generally charge lower interest rates than equity investors.

Understanding the Dynamics of the Three-Way Financial Model - Wealth-Based Model

What it is and how it works

A wealth-based model is an investment strategy that looks at financial assets as well as tangible assets such as properties, stocks, and bonds. This form of investing considers both current and future cash flow to determine which investments maximize potential growth potential. This strategy also looks at each asset's potential to generate income while minimizing risk and maximizing tax benefits. Investors in this model will create a diversified portfolio that considers factors such as inflation, lifespan, and market trends.

Benefits of a wealth-based model

A wealth-based model is an attractive investment choice for individuals looking to diversify their portfolios and reduce risk. Here are some of the notable benefits to pursuing this type of model:

  • Maximized potential for long-term growth: By diversifying the investments and considering the lifespan of each asset, this model provides a strong foundation for long-term growth.
  • Tax advantages: As the values of certain investments appreciate over the years, investors may be able to benefit through tax advantages.
  • Diversification: As mentioned, the wealth-based model looks at different types of assets and considers a wide range of factors to maximize returns while reducing risk.
  • Reduced risk: By considering the potential effects of things like inflation, investors in the wealth-based model can reduce their risk of losses.

Challenges of a Three-Way Financial Model

The three-way financial model is used by many organisations as a way of sourcing funds, understanding how capital is used and managing cash flow. Although successful implementation of such a complex model can be difficult due to various challenges it can face.

Short Term vs Long Term Financing

One of the first challenges with the three-way financial model is determining what mix of short- and long-term financing should be used. Short-term financing requires less commitment from both lenders and the business owner but carries tougher conditions that could lead to higher cost and lower returns. Long-term finanaces have benefits such as lower costs, more flexibility and access to larger sources of capital but require more commitment from the business and its owners.

Managing Ongoing Cash Flow

Another challenge within the three-way financial model is managing ongoing cash flow. Accurate forecasting, budgeting and regularly reviewing cash flow are important components of the three-way financial model. This helps to ensure that all parties within the model understand their obligations and can make informed decisions.

  • Accurate forecasting – tracking past data combined with financial projections of future income.
  • Budgeting – setting targets and goals to be met by each party to the model.
  • Monitoring – regularly reviewing cash flow fluctuations to keep on top of market changes.

Maintaining accurate and up to date data is essential for a successful three-way financial model. By forecasting, budgeting and monitoring cash flow, organisations can create a well-balanced and cost effective model, which can be beneficial for both the business and its lenders.


The three-way financial model is a comprehensive yet flexible structure for organizations to structure their finances. It offers many benefits that enable organizations to create more effective budgeting, cost control and financial planning. Although there are potential challenges associated with implementing a three-way financial model, these can be minimized by understanding the dynamics of the model, ensuring compliance with relevant legal and regulatory requirements, and effectively communicating with stakeholders.

Overview of the Three-Way Financial Model

The three-way financial model consists of three components: the Profit & Loss Statement (P&L), the Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement. The P&L shows entities' operational performance over a given period, the Balance Sheet shows entities' net worth at a certain point in time, and the Cash Flow Statement provides visibility into inflows and outflows of cash. Together, these components provide a comprehensive view of an organization's financial position and performance.

Benefits and Potential Challenges of Implementing a Three-Way Financial Model

Adopting a three-way financial model has many potential benefits for organizations. It provides greater insight into the financial activities of the organization, enables better budgeting and cost control, and helps inform more effective long-term financial planning. With the improved visibility and flexibility that the three-way model offers, effective financial management can be achieved.

Although the three-way financial model can be beneficial for organizations, it is important to understand the potential challenges that may arise during implementation. These include increased complexity, difficulty gathering the necessary data and resources, and the need to comply with relevant legal and regulatory requirements. Additionally, stakeholders need to be kept informed of any changes to ensure their understanding of the financial model.

Overall, organizations should consider the dynamics and implications of the three-way financial model, and ensure that appropriate steps are taken to optimize its implementation. By understanding and properly applying the three-way financial model, organizations can reap the rewards of achieving greater financial transparency and better decision making.

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