FRM vs Actuary

Difference Between FRM and Actuary

FRM is the full form for Financial Risk Manager and it is organized by GARP (Global Association of Risk Professionals), USA and individuals with this degree can secure a job in IT, KPOs, Hedge Funds, Banks, etc whereas Actuary is organized by CAS (Casualty Actuarial Society) and SOA (Society of Actuaries) and individuals with this degree can apply to work in Insurance companies.

There’s a common question among students who would like to be risk professionals. What should I choose, FRM or Actuary? This article will answer your query. In this article, we will discuss both of these certifications in-depth to make an informed decision about what you should do. You need to realize that the scopes of both these courses are different. Not everyone will go for in-depth courses. And likewise, not everyone will entertain the idea of doing a course that touches the surface level of risk management. So choose according to your needs. Here’re some details to begin with.

  • The curriculum of the Actuary is much more in-depth than FRM. That doesn’t mean FRM just scratches on the surface. But Actuary goes deeper.
  • Even if you want to go for both the courses, it’s prudence not to go for both. Because even if the curriculum of FRM & Actuary consist of risk management, they’re of different domain and need separate focus.
  • If you would like to go to the Insurance sector, you should go for Actuary. The curriculum of the actuary is vast, and once you clear 3-4 papers in the beginning, you can get a job in the insurance sector. Yes, an actuary is so valuable.
  • If you think about FRM certification, it’s not enough to do just FRM. You should consider doing FRM once you have an MBA in Finance or CFA. CFA plus FRM creates a lethal combination, and it would be easier for you to get a job as well. Albeit the scope of CFA and FRM is drastically different, doing these two courses will help you see the big picture, and you would be better equipped to solve larger issues in finance.
FRM-vs-Actuary

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FRM vs. Actuary Infographics

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Let’s understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this FRM vs. Actuary Infographics.

FRM-vs-Actuary-infographics

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FRM vs. Actuary – Comparative Table

SectionFRM Actuary
Organizing BodyThe exams are organized by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), USAThe exams are organized by both the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and Society of Actuaries (SOA) separately.
PatternThe candidates need to clear both Parts I and Part II exams to become qualified FRM professionals.To achieve the status of Associate, the candidates need to clear 6 exams, while the candidates need to clear another 3 exams to achieve the Fellowship level.
Duration of CourseThe candidates get 48 months to clear the Part II exam after passing the Part I exam.The candidates take 4 to 6 years to complete the Associate level exams and another 2 to 3 years to complete the Fellowship level exams. So, the overall qualification can take somewhere in the range of 6 to 10 years.
SyllabusThe syllabus primarily includes

  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Financial Markets & Products
  • Valuation
  • Risk Models
  • Credit Risk, Market Risk & Operational Risk
  • Investment Management
  • Treasury & Liquidity Risk Management
The syllabus primarily includes

  • Regulation & Financial Reporting
  • Modern Actuarial Statistics
  • Estimation of Policy Liabilities
  • Insurance Company Valuation
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Financial Mathematics
  • Financial Economics
  • Advanced Ratemaking
  • Financial Risk & Rate of Return
Exam FeesThe overall cost of the course includes an enrollment fee of $400 and exam fees that vary in the range of $550 and $750 per exam based on the time of registration.The overall cost of the course varies from one candidate to another based number of attempts. The first few papers are relatively economical and they cost around $250 per paper. The cost of the exam goes up to $1,225 per paper as the complexity of the paper increases. For instance, Probability is one of the least costly exams, while Strategic
JobsSome of the common profiles include

  • Risk Manager
  • Financial Risk Consultant
  • Risk Analyst
  • Investment Banker
Some of the common profiles include

  • Property & Casualty Insurance Actuary
  • Pension & Retirement Actuary
  • Life Insurance Actuary
  • Health Insurance Actuary
DifficultyIt is a very difficult exam to crack and only 1 out of every 3 aspiring candidates can clear both parts. During 2019, the pass rates for Part I and Part II were 45.9% and 58.6% respectively.The level of difficultly increases as the candidates advance through the modules. The pass rate for the SOA Preliminary and Fellowship exams held during 2020 were 45% and 47% respectively. The pass rate for the CAS Preliminary and Fellowship exams held during 2019 were 51% and 42% respectively.
Exam DateThe upcoming exams of Part I for the year 2021 are scheduled to take place during May 08-21, Jul 10-23, and Nov 13-26, while those for Part II are May 15 and Dec 04-10.
  • The exams under SOA started in November 2020 and will continue till October 2021. For more details refer link.
  • The exams under CAS will take place during the months of April 2021 and May 2021. For more details refer link.

What is the Financial Risk Manager (FRM)?


  • FRM is one of the most sought after risk certifications in the world. Whether you’re pursuing a career in finance or looking to break into the finance domain, FRM certification would act as a catalyst, because people who do FRM certifications are the ones who’re serious about being risk professionals.
  • FRM is not an easy certification as most students think before getting into. To complete FRM, you need to sit for two rigorous, practice-oriented papers that include core subjects in financial risk management. Also, you need to have two years of financial risk management experience to avail of the FRM certificate.
  • FRM is often not perceived as per the merit of corporate, because there’s a mismatch between the curriculum and the exam. The exam is much easier than the depth of the curriculum. Thus to make a mark, you shouldn’t study just for the exam, but also for knowing the subject through & through.
  • The best part of FRM is that anyone can sit for FRM. There are no eligibility criteria for getting into FRM.

What is Actuary?


  • An actuary is a business professional who uses analytical methods to understand the financial consequences of risk. Actuary professionals are not only great at financial theories, but they also have a depth of knowledge in mathematics and statistics. If you would like to go for an actuary, think about your inclination toward these two subjects.
  • Actuary professionals focus on a particular type of risk. They deal with risks related to insurance and pension programs. Once they understand the risk of these sectors, they evaluate the possibility of these events, find ingenuity to reduce the possibility, and lastly, try to pare down the impact of these possible events.
  • It’s one of the newly evolved finance careers. So if you can become an actuary (you’ll know-how in a minute), you will be counted among top-wage earners in the country.
  • To be an actuary, you need to pass a series of examinations via the Casualty Actuary Society or Society of Actuaries. It may take you around 6-10 years to pass all the exams. But after passing a few entry-level exams, you may get hired as an entry-level professional. Then you can take subsequent exams while you work as an actuarial assistant.

Key Differences – FRM vs. Actuary


There are many differences between FRM and Actuary. The only similarity is they both cater to risk professionals.

  • Intensity: If you think about how deep you need to go in each certification, the actuary is much intense than FRM. Of course, it’s said that you need to study at least 200 hours to prepare for FRM; but for an actuary, it’s much more because you need to take almost 8-9 exams.
  • The focus of subjects: With a good knowledge of financial theory and valuation, you would be able to crack two exams of FRM. But to become an actuary, only knowing financial theory is not enough. You also need to have in-depth knowledge of mathematics and statistics.
  • Perspective: The main difference between FRM and Actuary is not subject-oriented but in perspective. In the case of FRM, you need to be more generalist than a specialist, whereas if you’re in an actuarial science professionActuarial Science ProfessionActuarial Science evaluates the various risks associated with the field of finance. The use of mathematics and statistics, which is its prime focus, is used to analyze the uncertainty of future events and their financial implications.read more, your emphasis would be on the specialty. Moreover, when you decide to do FRM, it’s usually because you’ve got a keen interest in business and finance. In contrast, part and parcel of actuarial science is to evaluate the risk of insurance/retirement/pension programs and take measures to reduce the risk.
  • Value in the market: The value of the FRM certification holder is, of course, great. But if Actuaries have more value in the market due to two basic reasons. First of all, Actuary is a relatively new finance profession in the market (of course, it started a long time ago, but very few went for it in the past). The second reason is if you do Actuary with all your heart, you don’t need any other qualifications to get a job. But in the case of FRM, you need to have at least an MBA in Finance to be counted.
  • The difference in salary: At a global level, there’s not very much difference in the salary part of both FRM and Actuary. But Actuary is paid slightly higher than the FRM professionals. On average, the Actuary earns around the US $200,000 per annum, whereas an FRM professional earns around the US $175,000 per annum.

Why pursue FRM?


  • The first reason to pursue FRM is its eligibility criteria. All you need to have is your willingness to do the course, and you’re in. You don’t need to adhere to anything else to sit for the exam.
  • The second reason you should pursue FRM is its curriculum. It has only two levels. Of course, you need to go through rigorous study if you want to get placed, but it’s only two levels and nine subjects.
  • The third reason for which you should pursue FRM is its international reputation. Very few courses have this sort of royal reputation in the world.
  • The fourth and last reason is the fees of this course are very reasonable if you compare it with other international courses. Moreover, it helps you get placed easily if you’ve gone through the curriculum well enough.

Why pursue Actuary?


  • If you want to pursue a specialist profile, an actuary is for you. The actuary is a die-hard course for insurance risk. And once you do this course, you would be an expert in the field of insurance risk.
  • The curriculum of the actuary is very comprehensive. Thus once you persist and complete all your exams, you’re good to go. Moreover, as an actuary is a relatively new profession, you would have more opportunities in the market.
  • If you do actuary from CAS or SOA, then you would be internationally certified. And your certification would be valid anywhere in the world.

In the final analysis, it’s evident that if you want to study a specialist profile and be willing to devote 6-10 years of your life, you can choose Actuary. Or, if you want to pursue your career in risk profile in banks and for large funds, FRM is the right option for you.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. AvatarNaga Srinivas Ch says

    Thanks for the information. Very well explained in a simple manner.

    • AvatarDheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for your kind words!

  2. AvatarYukti Singh says

    Thank you for such an informative post. Can you please help me with this?
    Is it a good option if I plan to do FRM with Actuarial Science? I am currently enrolled with IFoA, UK and cleared three papers.

    • AvatarDheeraj Vaidya says

      Yes, it is! Both will complement each other.

  3. AvatarChristopher Dsouza says

    Thanks for giving the actual comparison between FRM and Actuary. Very well explained.

  4. AvatarSamuel lisson says

    Thanks for making me understand the in depth meaning of FRM and Actuaries. Well I also want to tell you that I usually prefer reading books, you know it’s easy to understand from books we can even mark down the important points and all. So would like to know if have any kinds of list of books related to Actuaries and FRM then please let me know. Thanks in advance

    • Dheeraj VaidyaDheeraj Vaidya says

      My pleasure. And thanks for your kind words. If you want to get further knowledge of actuaries, you may read these books on actuaries. Some books are for advanced level students, some are elementary, and some are for everybody those who want to achieve success in actuary.