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 ExamFRM 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 charterholders and 160,000 candidates per yearRapidly 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)2 exams (is possible to sit both at once)
June and December of each yearMay and November of each year
Level 1 cost is $1080 (early) to $1660 (late),
Level 2 cost is $630 to $1,210,
Level 3 cost is $630 to $1,210.
Cost includes books.
Part 1 cost is $900 (early) to $1,200 (late),
Part 2 cost is $645 to $945.
Cost includes books.
4 years of relevant work experience required2 years of relevant work experience required
38 to 43% pass rate42% to 60% pass rate
Multiple Choice, Item Set and Essay QuestionsMultiple Choice Only (4 choices)
Exam by CFA InstituteExam by Global Association of Risk Professonals (GARP)

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