I know this has been debated extensively, and that most agree that the FRM is harder than the CFA. My question is, if the FRM is harder, why do they only recommend 200 hours of study per level whereas the CFAI recommends 300 hours of study per level? Is the FRM material harder, but covers less subjects?

Having sat for the FRM examination and up to Level 2 examination of the CFA Program, I would say that both are of similar difficulty. There are some common topics but the CFA program covers a wide area while FRM covers the main risk areas (market, credit, operational, Basel). I usually do not believe in the hours recommended as each individual will require different amount of preparation.

Who told you that FRM is harder than CFA

Having passed all levels of CFA and FRM, I think Passing whole FRM would be equally difficult as passing Level 2 or 3 of CFA

It’s diffcult to say one exam’s harder than another, certainly my experience of the FRM and CFA I found the questions harder on the FRM exam, but at the end of the day it’s more or less the same material. CAPM is CAPM whether it’s FMR or CFA. Having said that whilst the questions were harder I suspect the bar is set lower in terms of MPS for the FRM and certainly being able to focus on a smaller area in each FRM exm compared with a CFA exam helps too.

I think we can get a rough (but useful) comparison of the level of screening that each designation represents, by multiplying together the pass rate for each level of each exam:

CFA: 38% x 42% x 52% = 8% FRM: 47% x 61% = 29% CAIA: 64% x 62% = 40%

This matches up with my perception of these designations: The CFA presents a real challenge, the CAIA is relatively easy, and the FRM is somewhere in-between.

Hi Wendy. As a fellow triple crown holder, I would respectfully disagree with your assessment. Based on joint distributions and ceteris paribus, I see how you came to your conclusion. However, personally I think that FRM part I and II was ridiculously hard, much more so than any individual level of the CFA exam. I haven’t met one colleague yet that thinks otherwise, and most of these colleagues went seven and out. At the end of the day, both the FRM and CAIA are very field specific exams, whereas the CFA is generalist in nature. As such, I believe most people begin with the CFA exams before venturing into the world of the FRM and CAIA. Although I haven’t read anything from either the FRM or CAIA organization that specifically states this, I’ve come to this conclusion through discussions with multiple charter holders and colleagues, conversations with association reps and just general observations. And this would make sense. People pursuing field specific designations are very focused and are, for the lack of a better phrase, all in. That can’t be said for the CFA exams. I’ve known countless people that thought it would be a good idea to take the exams but for a host of reasons never do, don’t pass, drop out, were never really committed etc. Or maybe they work in wildlife mgmt and want to make a transition without having a firm foundation. So I think it’s fair to see higher pass rates for the FRM and CAIA exams as opposed to the CFA exams, with CFA level III pass rates more closely linked to the individual level pass rates for the FRM and CAIA exams. Regardless, there is certainly more to it than a simple joint distribution calc. And the CFA will continue to attract many that sadly will not ever get past the first few levels for a variety of reasons, which will continue to negatively skew pass scores, whereas the FRM and CAIA will likely continue to attract CFA charterholders, phd’s, individuals whose organizations support their continued education or simply those that are very serious about a very specific field.

I’ve seen this discussions from time to time and never took the time to add my 2c’s until now. Apologies if it is a bit verbose. Happy holidays.

And apologies for using CFA as a noun, as I just realized from rereading my post. Hopefully I don’t get reported to the ethics committee. Should have reviewed before posting. Wishing everyone a very merry, happy and healthy holiday season.

I am thinking about doing the FRM. Looking at part 1 most of the sylabus seems to have been covered in CFA. Would FRM part 1 be hard for somebody who has passed all levels of the CFA?

I guess we should “process the data” since there is a bias on the CAIA pass rate: 25% of the CAIA charterholders also hold the CFA designation, so you have a huge overlap and you got used with this type of exams. Furthermore, I met a lot of candidates who were not CFA Charterholders but have passed Level II exam in the CFA program. So, with this kind of background this is not the same story.

I believe that the pass rate should decrease with increased popularity and so a lower relative weight of CFA Charterholders/Candidate taking the exam.