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Comparison of the FRM® and CFA® Designations

When candidates are trying to decide which designation they want to pursue, the comparison of the FRM vs CFA often comes to mind. The FRM is an excellent way for candidates to improve their knowledge of:

  • market risk
  • operational risk
  • credit risk
  • integrated risk management
  • valuation and risk models, and
  • risk management in investment management, among other topics.

Candidates can choose to take the FRM exam whether they are currently a CFA charterholder or if they plan on becoming one in the future.

Since the skills sets for the CFA and FRM complement each other very well, many CFA holders are also FRMs. For many finance professionals, it is not a case of FRM vs CFA, but instead FRM and CFA!

Demonstrating your competencies in financial risk via the FRM designation is a win-win for CFA charterholders, especially given the prominent role that CROs and risk managers are now taking in financial institutions in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The Bionic Turtle forum is an excellent place to discuss the benefits of becoming a certified FRM, and to speak with others who have chosen to pursue one or both of these designations. Our FRM study packages cover everything that you need to pass the FRM exam.

FRM® vs CFA® Comparison Chart

CFA® Exam FRM® Exam
General investment knowledge (broader than deep) Focus on risk management (deeper than broad)
Ten Topics:
Standards, Quantitative Methods, Economics, Financial Reporting & Analysis, Corporate Finance, Equities, Fixed Income, Derivatives, Alternative, Portfolio Management
Ten Topics:
Foundations of Risk Mgmt, Quantitative Analysis, Financial Markets & Products, Valuation and Risk Models, Market Risk, Credit Risk, Operational Risk, Liquidity & Treasury Risk, Investment Risk, Current Issues
Available Jobs:
Portfolio Management, Investment (Equities, Bonds) Research, and Alternatives (Hedge Funds)
Available Jobs:
Risk and risk-related at Banks, Insurance Firms, Assets Managers, Hedge Funds and Professional Services
Global recognition as gold standard: over 90,000 CFA charter holders and 160,000 candidates per year Rapidly growing at 16% per year since 2010: over 50,000 Certified FRMs and just breached 80,000 registered candidates per year

3 exams in sequence (quickest path is 18 months):
June and December of each year

2 exams (is possible to sit both at once):
Part 1 - May, August, and November of each year
Part 2 - May and November of each year

Cost: See CFA website
Cost: See GARP® FRM website
4 years of relevant work experience required 2 years of relevant work experience required
38 to 43% pass rate 42% to 60% pass rate
Multiple Choice, Item Set and Essay Questions Multiple Choice Only (4 choices)
Exam by CFA Institute Exam by Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP)

For more information about the FRM exam, including how to register for the exam and important deadlines, read through our other informational articles:

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What Your Colleagues Are Saying

I took the exam in Sydney and had a similar feeling about the exam being more qualitative (but no less rigorous). However, I felt I was better prepared thanks to the BT's relentless focus on throwing real life examples and methods.

Jagan G.

I subscribed to BT for my Part 1 FRM exam and just wanted to say thanks for the depth and breadth of the study materials and practice questions. I found out that I scored in the top quartile of every topic and I absolutely could not have done this without using BT - I spent many, many hours going over the practice questions and answers! I wanted to express my appreciation and gratitude to your team for your hard work in creating these materials. Thanks!

Shu C.

The BT scripts, practice questions, global topic drills and mock exams were a great help in understanding the concepts (which I could already apply on the job!) and where structured in such a manner that the breadth and depth where optimal for exam preparation - clearly the exam would have been a catastrophe without BT!

Ivan J.

Passed first time. Happy all the hard work paid off. BT was the right choice. Thanks David and Nicole for your work and commitment.

John D.

Passed! 1,4,1,2,1,4! Thank you David and Nicole for your efforts! Thank you BT! Couldn't have done it otherwise. I'm a mechanical engineer who had a career in petroleum services, then I decided to switch career to financial risk management. Passed part 1 from the first time with top quartiles and passed part 2 from the first time as well. All with BT! BT is always the recommendation I give to people aiming at the FRM designation! Thank you again!

Feras S.

Passed Part I and Part II first time - absolutely could not have done it without BT. Like a few others I didn't even both buying the GARP books for Part II and went solely with BT materials. Just read, answered questions, watched videos, read, more questions, and... more questions! All the practice question taking looked to pay off. Thanks again Bionic Turtle for a great curriculum. Keep up the fantastic work!

John D.

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