i-nth logo


Grenville J. Croll


Spreadsheets have been with us in their present form for over a quarter of a century. We have become so used to them that we forget that we are using them at all. It may serve us well to stand back for a moment to review where, when and how we use spreadsheets in the financial markets and elsewhere in order to inform research that may guide their future development.

In this article I bring together the experiences of a number of senior practitioners who have spent much of their careers working with large spreadsheets that have been and continue to be used to support major financial transactions and manage large institutions in the City of London.

The author suggests that the City of London is presently exposed to significant reputational risk through the continued uncontrolled use of critical spreadsheets in the financial markets and elsewhere.


It would seem sensible to categorise spreadsheets as follows:

  • Critical. Material error could compromise a government, a regulator, a financial market, or other significant public entity and cause a breach of the law and/or individual or collective fiduciary duty.
  • Key. Material error could cause significant business impact in terms of incorrectly stated assets, liabilities, costs, revenues, profits or taxation etc.
  • Important. Material error could cause significant impact on the individual in terms of job performance and career progression without directly, greatly, immediately or irreversibly affecting business or the organization.
  • Store & Retrieve. Spreadsheets used as databases, with few issues other than data correctness and information security and where the impact of error is low.
  • Expired. Spreadsheets over three years old no longer required in the active management of the business, but may be required to be archived by statute or good practice.
  • Personal. Other spreadsheets used by the individual in the day to day performance of their duties, where the impact of material error is low.


2005, EuSpRIG

Full article

The importance and criticality of spreadsheets in the City of London