FRM Exam – Why FRM is one of the most sought-after certifications for Risk Professionals?
Picture this –
- There have been more than 150,000 registrants for the FRM exam since 1997.
- 923 organizations had five or more registrations for the FRM Exam in 2014.
- 38 organizations had 100 or more FRM registrations in 2013.
- In 2014, 11 organizations had 250 or more FRM registrations.
- In 2014, graduate students from over 350 educational institutions enrolled in the FRM.
- 90% of those who sat for the May 2014 FRM Exam would recommend that their colleagues also sit for the FRM Exam.
- More than 30,000 FRMs are practicing worldwide.
As you can note from these mind boggling numbers, FRM certification is one of the best ways to boost Risk Management Careers (and ofcourse, salaries 🙂 ). However, you will have to invest a good amount of your time and money and also sacrifice a lot of your social life.
Also, have a look at Important FRM exam 2017 dates and registration process
This comprehensive FRM article will give you nuts and bolt’s of FRM Examination, pattern, study tips, exam resources etc.
- About FRM Program
- Why Pursue FRM?
- FRM Exam Format
- FRM Exam Weights / Breakdown
- FRM Examination Fees
- FRM Results & Passing Rates
- FRM Study Material
- Strategies: Before the exam
- Strategies: During the exam
- Scholarship Opportunities
- Deferral policy
- Useful FRM Exam Prep Resources
Please note that like the FRM exam, there are various other credentials from which you could pick, subject to the area of finance you want to specialize in. It is very important that you choose yours carefully as each one of them are exclusive and provide certain paybacks, if not then it won’t count. If you are confused on which one to go for, you may look at a comparative analysis on CFA vs FRM. Also, to get a deeper understanding of CFA examination, you can look at the Beginner’s Guide to CFA Examination.
What is FRM Exam?
The Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP®) came up with the Financial Risk Manager (FRM®) for those who are interested in getting certified as someone serious about managing risks. FRM can really be a treasured certification which can help you in career enhancement, stand out and get recognized among the employers and give you an opportunity to improve your knowledge and expertise in the area of financial risk management.
- Roles: Financial Risk Consultant, Risk Management, Credit Management, Asset Liability Management, Risk Appraisal, Risk Assessment. FRM may not be useful for those looking for Investment Banking or Equity Research Careers
- Exam: The FRM program consists of FRM Exam Part I and Part II which are pencil and paper multiple choice exams.
- FRM Exam dates: Both the FRM Exam Part I and Part II are conducted twice a year in the month of May and November (usually third Saturday). Also both the levels can be taken on the same day at once.
- The Deal: The two-part FRM Exam tests advanced, cumulative knowledge, and the concepts tested on the FRM Exam Part I are needed for Part II. The FRM programs two parts concludes with a four-hour examination each. Both FRM Part I and Part II can be taken on one single day. Although if you do not clear FRM Part I and clear Part II, you will still have to appear for both the exams next time.
- Eligibility: Anyone can enroll in order to take the FRM exams.
FRM Program completion criteria
- Pass the FRM Exam Part I and Part II within 4 years
- Candidates must take the FRM Exam Part I before taking Part II
- Demonstrate 2 years of relevant work experience. This work experience cannot be more than 10 years prior to having passed the FRM Exam Part II. Also the experience earned for school will not be considered, including internships, part-time jobs, or student teaching. A candidate has 5 years to submit their work experience. After 5 years, the candidate will have to re-enroll in the program and pay the required fees again.
- Certified FRMs are strongly encouraged to earn 40 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) every two years to maintain the latest best practices in risk management.
Recommended study hours: GARP recommends that FRM candidates dedicate around 200 hours of study to prepare for each part of the FRM exams.
What do you earn? You become a certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM®)
Why Pursue FRM Exam?
FRM certification should be chosen and pursued because it is required in the current economic and finance industry. But at the same time you need to consider your career prospects which could vary according to your interests and current professional experience if any.
- FRM does not guarantee a job or a salary hike but yes it definitely gives you an edge over your counterparts, provides with a reasonable advantage over your colleagues at your workplace.
- With this you get an opportunity to prove your worth which in turn could help you with the salary hike and not just the certification.
- Moreover, the focused knowledge and skills you learn in financial risk management, the opportunity to network and access with financial risk professionals can provide you with exposure to the industry.
- This certification will give you a chance to indicate high value skill set in a niche fragment of finance domain.
Have a look at the top 5 companies and the top 5 global banks employing the most FRM’s.
FRM Exam Format
|FRM Exam||FRM Part I Exam||FRM Part II Exam|
|Focus on||Basic tools and techniques used in risk management and various theories that use them.||Application of the tools and techniques learnt in Part I and deeper insights into major sub-parts of risk management.|
|Exam format||Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)||Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)|
|Questions||Equally-weighted 100 questions||Equally-weighted 80 questions|
|Duration||4 hours||4 hours|
Key highlights about the FRM exam format
FRM Part I Exam
- This part of the FRM exam focuses primarily on critical tools and theories required to gauge financial risk.
- The broad area of study would include foundation of risk management, quantitative analysis, financial markets and products, valuation and risk models.
- The exam is in Multiple choice questions format which makes it easy but taking into consideration the time aspect, the exam taker has on an average around 2.4 minutes per question.
- Questions are aimed to relate theory to practical, real-world, problems to understand risk management.
- No penalties for incorrect answers 🙂
FRM Part II Exam
- This part of the exam is a notch up then the Part I exam and focuses on market risk management, credit risk management, operational and integrated risk management, investment risk management and current issues in financial markets.
- The exam is again Multiple choice questions format and the exam taker has on an average 3 minutes per question.
- Questions are practical in nature, wherein the candidates are expected to behave as a risk manager and deal with risk management.
- No negative marking for incorrect answers 🙂
FRM Exam Weights / Breakdown
FRM Part I Exam
- Every particular aspect of financial risk management will weigh differently in the exam (Breakup provided below). In order to clear the Part I exam you are required to demonstrate extensive knowledge of all the areas laid down by the FRM curriculum.
- You need to practice well for the quantitative section especially if you from commerce background and have not worked on quantitative problems before.
- One great news for you. There are NO SECTIONAL CUT-OFFS! Yes you can clear the exam even in case you get a 4th quartile in one of the sections. Though it is highly advisable to not screw-up the high weightage sections you see below.
FRM Part II Exam
- The FRM Part II exam curriculum has been divided into five main areas (outlined below with their individual weightage)
- The maximum weightage and focus of the exam is for the sub-areas of risk management such as Market Risk Management, Credit Risk Management Operational & Integrated Risk Management.
- Again there are no sectional cut-offs 🙂
FRM Examination Fees
The following is the information for FRM Part I November 2015;
You will have to pay a one-time enrollment fees of $300. Another aspect which needs to be taken into account is the time of payment. The earlier you register for the exam the cheaper it is. For instance, the payment during the third deadline will cost you US $950 whereas the first deadline will cost you US $300 less that is US $650.
The program enrollment fees are valid for four years which means that you need to appear for the FRM Part I & II exam within this period.
|Deadlines||May 1 2017 – July 31st 2017||Aug 1 2017 – Aug 31st 2017||Sept 1 2017 – Oct 15th 2017|
|Enrollment fee||US $300||US $300||US $300|
|Exam fee||US $350||US $475||US $650|
|Total||US $650||US $775||US $950|
source – GARP
The following is the information for Returning candidate FRM Part 1 & FRM Part II November 2017
|Deadlines||May 1 2017 – July 31st 2017||Aug 1 2017 – Aug 31st 2017||Sept 1 2017 – Oct 15th 2017|
|Enrollment fee||US $0||US $0||US $0|
|Exam fee||US $350||US $475||US $650|
|Total||US $350||US $475||US $650|
source – GARP
FRM Exam Results & Passing Rates
The FRM Exam results are declared through an email generally six weeks after the exam is conducted. You are also provided with the quartile results which will basically allow you to understand how you scored on the broad areas of the exam with respect to other participants. Also the passing score is not revealed and is determined by the FRM committee.
The passing rates fall within a range of 30-60 % for both the parts of FRM exam. Let’s look at the passing rates for each of the levels;
FRM Part I Exam Passing rate is around 47%
- Looking at the past 5 years (2010-2014) and 10 exams the FRM Part I Exam had the pass percentage in the range of 39% to 54%, with an average passing rate of 47%.
- Average passing rate for the May examination was 48%.
Average passing rate for the November examination was 46%.
FRM Part II Exam Passing rate is around 58%
- Again considering the performance of past 5 years (2010-2014) and 10 exams the FRM Part II Exam had the pass percentage in the range of 54% to 59%, with an average passing rate of 58%.
- Average passing rate for the May examination was 58%.
- Average passing rate for the November examination was 57%.
- It is interesting to note that the pass percentage for both Part I and II was seen highest in the Year May-2011 at 53.1% and 61.6% respectively.
FRM Exam Study Material
Here is a comparison between the study material that can be used to prepare for your FRM Part I &II exams. It includes the study material available on the GARP site and Schweser.
|Cost Part I Exam||$250 + shipping||$399|
|Cost Part II Exam||$295 + shipping||$399|
|Practice Exams||Yes, free on site||Yes|
|End of Chapter Questions||Yes||Yes|
|Must-know quick sheet||No||Yes|
Also you need to note that there are several packages that are available with Schweser, you could choose the one with the features that suits your requirement. Although for comparison purpose I have included the price and attributes of the Essential Self Study Package. Further to decide whether to opt for the FRM curriculum notes or the prep material will depend upon the time you are going to invest in the preparation of the FRM exam.
FRM Exam Strategies: before the Exam
There is no magic, no short cuts but purely dedicated efforts that will get you through. Let’s look at a few points that you could consider including in your preparation for the FRM Part I Exam.
- Understand the curriculum- The first and the most important thing is to get a hang of the entire syllabus that you are going to study. Take efforts to really understand it.
- Go through the GARP readings- It is important to go through the core GARP readings at least once and also the FRM Handbook.
- Find a study partner- If you can find a study partner. Look out for someone in similar situation as your and a schedule. You can be good help to each other in case of doubts and each partner’s strength in particular subject.
- Start early- Get this straight, these are not your college exams wherein last minute study could get you through. In order to prepare well start early and very well plan the preparation schedule, accordingly decide how much time to dedicate for each day. Especially if you are not someone from the finance and quants background you will have to dedicate sufficient time for the preparation.
- Stipulate your own hours of study- Though the recommended hours are somewhere around 200 hours, doesn’t imply you will clear the exam. These criteria are completely subjective and requires sincere efforts ranging between 100-500 hours.
- Prepare well for formulas and calculations- Important consideration for the exam takers is that there is good amount quantitative aspect in the subject matter. The mathematical difficulty of the Exam is similar to that of graduate level finance course. Moreover, there are important formulas and calculations which need to be known along with its correct application.
- Prepare your own quick sheet- The syllabus involves hell lot of formulas (find them at the end of every chapter) and methods to various measurement type. Mind you, formula sheets are not provided with the exam. So you need to memorize them. One way is to prepare your own formula quick sheet and keep referring to it whenever you have free time during your work or while you are travelling.
- Practice, Practice and Practice! – Going through the notes, mugging up formulas is only a part of the preparation. The key is going to be the amount of practice you do on solving the problems. It might also happen that you practice today and might forget after a week. So you can’t do much here but just KEEP PRACTICING! Solve as many practice exams which would give you a hang of how the real thing would be like and make you confident for the final match.
- Course is not a novel- You should not be reading whenever you get time only for 15-20 minutes. Make a habit to study for hours at a stretch for 2-3 hours. Learn the concepts and practice them immediately. If you do that right from day 1 you will not feel the need to again and again read the concepts.
- Solve sample papers by GARP- Going through the GARP core readings properly and solving their practice exam (available for free once you register for the exam) should give you a good confidence boost to clear the paper. Also, a few more practice exams Schweser are never harmful. Although do not expect the same level of questions to appear in your paper. Anticipate that the GARP guys will take you for a ride. Simple- Prepare for the worst!
- Prepare every section- Do not drop a few concepts and topics thinking that it is unimportant. Such decisions could backfire. You just cannot afford to ignore any formula from any corner of the books. STUDY EACH AND EVERY THING.
Dedicate at least 1 week before the exam- If you are working, try and take a week off from before the exam and keep other commitments to the minimum. Use it to stuff yourself with some concepts for that extra edge. Devote this time practicing and rereading your material.
FRM Exam Strategies: During the exam
If you have prepared and done your homework well, the exam day should not be much of a problem. Although I have listed down a few important suggestions that could be important.
- Keep difficult questions for the end- It has been observed by many exam takers that last 10 or so questions were low-hanging fruits, which could be solved easily. This can be unfortunate for those who because of lack of time cannot manage to get that far and are forced to guess the answers. So it is always better to come back to the difficult questions later on and keep answering the ones you know quickly.
- Be quick and alert- Although you might feel you have enough time for each question, keep one thing in mind the FRM questions are generally very tricky and tough so u need to be alert and save time to solve the difficult ones.
- Look for easy pickers- You will come across questions wherein you could quickly find solutions. Look out for them as you will be able to solve them correctly within no time. This will help you save time for other questions and also increase your chances of clearing the sections.
- Watch out for lengthy questions- Other type of questions that could be seen in the exam are the ones that were quite lengthy in both words and in the number of steps that were required to chalk out a solution. Plan out for them whether you want it take it at the beginning or the end.
FRM Exam Scholarship Opportunities
- Candidates that cannot afford and self-fund the FRM exam can access the scholarship provided by GARP.
- This scholarship would cover only the registration Fee for the FRM Exam Part I.
- Also note that the scholarships are not available for the FRM Exam Part II.
- The decision whether the scholarship has to be awarded to a particular candidate is at the discretion of GARP and a candidate may be given only one scholarship with no exceptions.
Although in order to avail the scholarship, the candidate will have to qualify. The following are the guideline laid down by GARP;
- Student must validate full-time enrollment in a graduate degree program at the time of the Exam. So in case the student is currently enrolled in an undergraduate or certificate program cannot qualify for the scholarship.
- Faculty members would be eligible if they can validate full-time employment at their institution. A complete application form which can be found on the GARP website has to be submitted along with the documents.
FRM Exam Deferral policy
There could be situations wherein you cannot take the exam you have enrolled for. In such cases a deferral may be considered. Here you are allowed to defer the exam registration once to the next exam date. Although there are a few conditions;
- The deferral has to be submitted by the last day of registration.
- You will have to pay an administrative processing fee of USD 100.00 to defer your Exam.
- You will be automatically re-enrolled in the next Exam cycle and in case you decide not to appear the next Exam, you will lose your Exam registration fee.
Useful FRM Exam Prep Resources
FRM certification should be chosen if you are keen on learning and pursing a career in Financial Risk Management. FRM also provides opportunity to network with like minded people and help you gain exposure in the Risk Industry. Though FRM does not guarantee a job or a salary hike but yes it definitely gives you an edge over your counterparts and provides with a reasonable advantage over your colleagues at your workplace. Choose this credential keeping in mind the cost-benefit for yourself. It requires good amount of commitment, discipline and hard work for it to be earned successfully. All the very best!