How To Set Up Your Financial Data in Power BI

by | Power BI

Financial reporting is a very essential tool to communicate past successes as well as future expectations in a company. When you need to complete a financial analysis, you need to set up your financial data in Power BI in a compelling way. You may watch the full video of this tutorial at the bottom of this blog.

It doesn’t matter if your data is from the revenue side, the expense side, or the balance sheet side – the goal is to ultimately represent this data in Power BI and put it into a compelling financial report output.

This, historically, was very difficult to do. But, it’s becoming easier and more efficient because of the updates that are being rolled out with the Power BI desktop.

That’s what this tutorial is all about. It’s to show you how you can do that by doing setups or rearrangements. From your raw data, you can start creating interesting and valuable reports around your financials.

Sample Data Setup in Power BI

Below is a sample of a completed Power BI data setup for a financial report. This is from a member-only session that I went over for those who have upgraded to Enterprise DNA. 

set up data in power bi

This tutorial shows you how to set up data and highlight compelling insights relevant to any type of financial reporting. It doesn’t matter if it’s around profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cash flow or statements.

But, you can’t carry out such a great analysis if you don’t set up your actual tables, your queries, and model correctly.

As you can see in the sample model, you can look at any of our profit and loss details over any time frame. That is made possible through the financial years that I’ve set up. I’ve also got this dynamic measure where you can easily compare Budget vs Last Year

Furthermore, in this model, I have embedded a way of looking at different entities and drilling into specific results for those particular entities.

set up data in power bi

Also, you can see that I have created a breakdown for all our PnL statements.

set up data in power bi

You can even drill into specific elements within our PnL statements. For example, you can look at a particular grouping of line items and see how those items performed.

set up data in power bi

Setting Up Your Queries

Before I teach you how to set up queries, here’s what the raw data looks like.

set up data in power bi

It is quite a huge table, isn’t it? This is because it contains data over many financial years. It also contains every single line item that you usually have in a business.

To set up your data in Power BI or financial reporting correctly, you need to do a lot of the hard work inside the query editor.

To set up your queries, go to the Home tab, and then click Edit Queries.

You can then find your queries here.

set up data in power bi

This initial setup is exactly the same table from our raw data. But it is now in the Query Editor in Power BI

You’ll see here that all the dates are at the top, and then the details are down below. 

set up data in power bi

Actually, you cannot do anything with data in this format, especially financial reporting.

What you need to do is to think about how you can make this table more condensed (longer). Therefore, all your dates need to be placed in the top header row. Then, all your dates need to be in one column as well as your results.

So, the most important thing to do next is to UNPIVOT your data. To do that, select the first three columns.

set up data in power bi

Next, right-click, and then select Unpivot Other Columns.

set up data in power bi

After that, you will get this long and thin table. You’ll have the dates in one column and the values in another.

set up data in power bi

And then, rename the first column as Months.

set up data in power bi

You can also see the Dates table in our lookup tables under Data Model

set up data in power bi

There’s also a Financial Categories table here where you can build a hierarchy around every line item like the category, the sub-category and more. Then, I’ve also got a reference number to make sure that revenues are set above expenses.

set up data in power bi

The data is not actually complex; it just needs sorting out and the financial data needs optimizing.

Working Out The Model

As I’ve said, getting your data model right is downright essential. You should somehow build a relationship between the Dates and Financial Data.

But you can’t simply build a relationship across multiple columns. It is important to have just one simple relationship; it is also the same for Financial Categories.

Again, the main thing that I wanted to demonstrate in this tutorial was how to get the set up right for your data in Power BI.

After that, you can utilize all the great things like the time intelligence calculations and budgeting analysis. You’ll also be able to do some great analytical work, which I demonstrated earlier, if you get the set up right.

Lastly, you can create compelling visuals that dynamically go through time and compare different metrics versus measures versus other measures.

***** Related Links *****
My 3 Best Practice Tips For Organizing Power BI Models
How To Organize Your Power BI Data Model – Best Practice Tips


Financial reporting within Power BI is becoming far superior to any alternative tool that you can utilize.

Therefore, with this tutorial, my goal is to show you how you can get it going, and also show you how you can make it cogent and valuable to make informed decisions.

For more advanced data transformation and modelling examples, you can learn more here – Enterprise DNA Membership.



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author avatar
Sam McKay, CFA
Sam is Enterprise DNA's CEO & Founder. He helps individuals and organizations develop data driven cultures and create enterprise value by delivering business intelligence training and education.

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