FRM® vs CFA® – Which Is Right For You?

For finance professionals seeking to advance their careers, this is one of the hardest questions to answer—should you pursue a CFA® charter or FRM® designation? Which is better for your career?

No matter which one you choose, actually earning the credential will require huge commitments in time, effort and even money (especially if you have to retake the exams).

In a nutshell, the difference between the CFA and FRM designations comes down to focus and interest. If you’re passionate about and interested in the assessment and management of financial risk, then the FRM designation is tailor-made for you. On the other hand, the CFA charter provides a thorough education on a broad range of financial analysis and investment topics and can lead to a wider range of career prospects, not to mention a higher salary.

Here’s a quick overview of how the two credentials compare:

  FRM® versus CFA®
Administered By GARP   CFA Institute
Year Established  1997   1947
Global Members    32,000   135,000
Exam Components    2 Parts   3 Levels
Minimum Cost*    $1,300   $2,400
Program Materials Included   Included
Study Hours 150-200 Hours Per Part   300+ Hours Per Level
Exam Pass Rates Part I: 42%
Part II: 62%  
  Level I: 42%
Level II: 46%
Level III: 53%
Median Salary $86,000   $132,000 (w/5 years’ experience)
Focus Highly Specialized
Financial Risk Assessment
Investment Analysis
Possible Job Roles Risk Manager
Credit Risk Analyst
Chief Risk Officer
  Portfolio Manager
Financial Analyst
Financial Strategist
Top Employer Globally ICBC   JP Morgan Chase

*With on-time registration and passing entire exam on first attempt.

Why Not Both?

Yes, why not both the FRM and the CFA? While it will take quite a bit of time to earn both credentials, it’s clear that they both provide unique value for finance professionals. Together, they can help you to truly stand out versus your peers, especially as the finance space becomes more complicated due to regulations and innovation.

Considering adding the FRM designation to your CFA charter? See how Wiley’s FRM Exam Review can help.