Difference between CFA and FRM

Delving into the world of finance? Exciting! But deciding between CFA and FRM certifications is no walk in the park. Picture this: CFA and FRM are like different planets in the financial universe, each leading to unique career destinations. So, choosing the right path is key. Knowing these differences sets the stage for your finance career.

In this interconnected world, finance wields incredible influence. That’s why expertise in this field is in high demand. Understanding CFA and FRM distinctions is vital as you embark on this journey. These certifications pave paths to managing investments or mastering financial risk—critical choices that shape your career trajectory.

Background on CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)

Imagine a CFA as your ticket to understanding the secrets of making wise investments, and opening doors to a global playground of finance opportunities. 

IMS Proschool unveils the world of CFA, providing insights into why it’s the boost you need for your finance career.

Definition and Purpose of CFA

The CFA is like a top-tier badge in finance that shows you’re really good at managing money and analyzing investments. It’s given by a group called the CFA Institute, and its main job is to teach finance pros lots of stuff about how money works and how to make good decisions with it.

The CFA program covers many areas in finance, like how to manage investments, the ethics of money matters, and how to handle portfolios. It’s meant to give people who take it a solid understanding of all these money-related topics so they can make smart choices with investments.

CFA Levels

  • CFA Level 1: An introductory stage covering ethics, finance basics, and various investment areas.
  • CFA Level 2: Delves deeper into investment analysis and asset valuation, focusing notably on equity investments.
  • CFA Level 3: Emphasis on portfolio management, wealth planning, and ethical strategies, including essay and item set questions.

Completing all three levels while upholding ethical standards earns the prestigious CFA charter, symbolising excellence in investment management. CFA charter holders are highly esteemed in the finance industry for their rigorous training and ethical commitment.

Global Recognition of CFA

The CFA designation’s global recognition is a key asset. Finance, a universal language, benefits from a credential respected worldwide. CFA charter holders transcend borders, their expertise acknowledged from Wall Street to London and Hong Kong. Employers highly value this designation, opening doors in top firms globally. The CFA equips professionals with market insights and ethical expertise, ideal for a successful finance career, locally and internationally.

Core Areas Covered in the CFA Curriculum

Think of the CFA curriculum as your roadmap through this intricate landscape, equipping you with vital skills. It’s a journey encompassing ethics, quantitative tools, economic insights, and analytical prowess essential for finance. From scrutinising financial statements to mastering equity and fixed-income investments, the CFA curriculum offers a thorough education, priming you for the diverse scenarios in finance.

Core Curriculum Topics Description
Ethical and Professional Standards Focus on ethics, the role of ethics and professionalism in the investment industry, and the CFA Institute Code of Ethics.
Quantitative Methods Exploration of quantitative concepts and techniques for financial analysis and investment decision-making.
Economics Introduction to fundamental concepts of supply and demand, macroeconomic principles, and the business cycle’s impact on economic activity.
Financial Statement Analysis Thorough explanation of financial reporting procedures, standards governing disclosures, and the analysis of financial statements.
Corporate Issuers (Corporate Finance) Introduction to corporate governance, investing and financing decisions, environmental and social considerations in investing, and working capital management.
Equity Investments Examination of equity investments, security markets, indexes, industry and company analysis, and basic equity valuation models.
Fixed Income Explanation of fixed-income securities, markets, yield measures, risk factors, valuation measurements, bond returns, and credit analysis.
Derivatives Conceptual framework for understanding derivatives and derivative markets, essential features, and valuation concepts.
Alternative Investments Exploration of hedge funds, private equity, real estate, commodities, and their use for diversification and higher returns.
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning Fundamentals of portfolio and risk management, return and risk measurement, and the capital asset pricing model for identifying optimal risk in portfolios.

*Please note that the weights and focus of these topics may vary across different CFA exam levels.

Also Read – 6 Important CFA Updates & Curriculum Changes Announced in 2023

CFA Examination Structure and Levels

Preparing for the CFA exams is intense, needing about 300 hours of study for each level. Practice exams are key—they help refine your understanding and get you familiar with the test format. It’s like a rehearsal before the real deal.

The CFA program covers lots of finance topics, like ethics, economics, and investments in stocks and bonds.

  • Ethical and Professional Standards
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Economics
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Corporate Issuers (Corporate Finance)
  • Equity Investments
  • Fixed Income
  • Derivatives
  • Alternative Investments
  • Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

Each of these components plays a crucial role in building your expertise and preparing you for the challenges of the finance industry.

Did you know, Proschool has over 65% students training with Proschool pass the CFA Exams

Background on FRM (Financial Risk Manager)

The Financial Risk Manager (FRM) certification is a global standard for risk management, empowering professionals to proficiently handle diverse financial risks. It’s akin to a compass guiding individuals through the complexities of risk identification, assessment, and management. Aimed at specialised risk management careers, the FRM certification sharpens expertise in addressing market, credit, operational, and liquidity risks. Earning the FRM designation signifies dedication to upholding top-notch risk management standards, vital in today’s financial realm.

FRM Global Recognition and Industry Relevance

The FRM designation indicates that you are good at handling financial risks, making it valuable worldwide. It’s essential in banking and investments, showcasing expertise in complex financial decisions that stabilise money matters. Ultimately, holding an FRM reflects a commitment to ensuring global financial security.

FRM Core Areas Covered in the Curriculum

Here’s a summary of the sections and topics covered in the FRM syllabus:

FRM Part 1:

Foundations of Risk Management:

  • Introduction to risk management
  • Risk types and measurement
  • Risk management frameworks

Quantitative Analysis:

  • Probability theory
  • Statistical concepts
  • Time series analysis

Financial Markets and Products:

  • Types of financial markets
  • Financial instruments
  • Market structure and trading

Valuation and Risk Models:

  • Valuation concepts
  • Risk models
  • Credit risk and valuation adjustments

FRM Part 2:

Market Risk Measurement and Management:

  • Market risk frameworks
  • Value at Risk (VaR)
  • Stress testing and scenario analysis

Credit Risk Measurement and Management:

  • Credit risk assessment
  • Credit rating systems
  • Credit derivatives

Operational and Integrated Risk Management:

  • Operational risk framework
  • Fraud risk management
  • Enterprise risk management

Risk Management and Investment Management:

  • Portfolio management
  • Risk budgeting
  • Risk-adjusted performance measurement

The FRM syllabus is structured to provide in-depth knowledge and practical skills in various aspects of financial risk management. By covering these topics, the program ensures that FRM candidates are well-prepared to tackle the complex world of risk in the financial industry.

Also Read – How CFA Program Helps You Run a Business

FRM Examination Structure and Parts

The FRM certification is all about mastering risk management. To earn this badge of honour, you need to understand risk concepts and know the ins and outs of the FRM exam. Let’s break down the exam pattern and guide you toward acing this certification.

Part 1: Foundation and Basics 

It comprises four broad areas, each testing a specific domain of knowledge:

  • Foundations of Risk Management
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Financial Markets and Products
  • Valuation and Risk Models

Part 2: Advanced Concepts and Applications

This part comprises four additional areas:

  • Market Risk Measurement and Management
  • Credit Risk Measurement and Management
  • Operational and Integrated Risk Management
  • Risk Management and Investment Management

Understanding this two-part structure and the diverse areas it covers, prepares you well to navigate your way through the FRM certification journey. 

Key Differences: CFA vs FRM

When you’re on the path to a career in finance, it’s essential to understand the key differences between two vital certifications: CFA vs FRM. IMS Proschool helps break it down for you.

Focus and Specialization

  • CFA’s Broad Coverage in Investment Management:
    • CFA covers a wide range of finance topics, like portfolio management, ethics, and financial analysis.
    • It’s like a Swiss Army knife for finance professionals, offering a broad understanding of the field.
  • FRM’s Specialised Focus on Risk Management:
    • FRM, on the other hand, specialises in risk management, diving deep into areas like market and credit risk.
    • Think of it as a magnifying glass, allowing you to explore the intricate world of financial risks.

Career Paths

  • CFA’s Influence on Traditional Finance Roles:
    • CFA opens doors to traditional finance roles, like investment management, research, and asset management.
    • It’s your passport to the world of finance, where you manage investments and make them grow.
  • FRM’s Impact on Risk-Specific Roles:
    • FRM’s specialisation leads you to risk-specific roles, particularly in areas like banking, financial consulting, and risk analysis.
    • It’s like being the guardian of financial stability, ensuring organisations can navigate risks safely.

84% of Proschool students recommend you join us for your CFA Prep

Skill Set Requirements

For CFA:

  • Strong analytical skills are essential for evaluating financial data and making informed investment decisions.
  • Upholding high ethical standards is crucial for maintaining trust in the finance industry.
  • Proficiency in quantitative analysis is vital for understanding complex financial models and risk assessments.
  • A deep understanding of financial markets, asset classes, and investment strategies is necessary.
  • Knowledge of portfolio construction, optimization, and management is vital for investment professionals.

For FRM:

  • Advanced quantitative abilities are necessary for modeling and analysing diverse risk factors in FRM.
  • Proficiency in assessing market, credit, and operational risks is essential for effective risk management.
  • Skills in risk modeling techniques like value at risk (VaR) and stress testing are required.
  • Understanding complex financial products and their associated risks is fundamental.
  • Knowledge of financial regulations and compliance is critical in the field of risk management.

Industry Recognition and Application

Both CFA and FRM certifications are highly esteemed globally. CFAs excel in investment management and financial analysis roles, while FRMs specialize in risk management, covering diverse sectors like banking, insurance, and financial consulting. Both certifications offer ample career opportunities in their respective areas of expertise.


Organizing Body CFA Institute The Global Association of Risk Professionals, USA (GARP)  
Exam Structure Level 1 ,  Level 2, and Level 3 Part 1   and   Part 2
Course Duration 2-3 years 1-2 Years
Difficulty Level (Passing Percentage) CFA Level 1 22% – 49% Part 1: 45%

Part 2: 63%

Eligibility Second-year undergraduates can enrol in the CFA Level 1 exam.


In specific cases, eligibility can be based on 4 years of relevant work experience, even without a degree.


This approach accommodates individuals with practical experience and a strong academic commitment.

12th pass and Final-year undergraduates can apply.

To sit for Part 2 of the FRM exam, the candidate must first clear Part 1.

Over the course of 5 years, the candidate must have accumulated a minimum of 2 years of relevant work experience to complete the FRM journey.

Fee (Indicative) CFA Level 1: $1,340–$2,950

CFA Level 2 $940–$2,550

CFA Level 3: $940–$2,550

Part 1: $1000-$1,200

Part 2: $600-$800

Relevant Candidate Profile Investment Banking, KPO, Research Risk management, Banking, and Financial Institutions

Also Read – CFA Scholarship – Are you eligible for it?

CFA vs FRM Salary Comparison

CFA Salary Trends

Job Role CFA Salary in India
Chartered Financial Analyst Rs. 6,50,000
Senior Financial Analyst Rs. 9,00,000
Credit Analyst Rs. 6,30,000
Financial Analyst Rs. 6,00,000
Associate in investment banking Rs. 14,00,000
Finance Manager Rs. 10,00,000
Equity Research Associate Rs. 7,50,000
Investment banker Rs. 15,00,000
Portfolio Manager Rs. 18,00,000
Senior Business Analyst Rs. 12,00,000
Equity Analyst Rs. 5,00,000
Senior Analyst, Finance Rs. 18,00,000
Vice President in Finance Rs. 30,00,000

FRM Salary Trends

FRM Avg. Salary

Source – Ambitionbox

Actual CFA and FRM salaries can fluctuate based on location, experience, and the employer. For a more accurate estimation, explore regional data on FRM salaries. These figures stem from anonymous submissions by Financial Risk Managers, providing a clearer picture of earnings in your area.

Top Employers for CFA in India

Recruiters Salary Package (lakh per annum)
The Goldman Sachs Group Rs. 3,00,000 – 25,00,000
Morgan Stanley Rs. 4,00,000 – 30,00,000
J.P Morgan Rs. 5,00,000 – 40,00,000
Citigroup Rs. 4,00,000 – 30,00,000
Credit Suisse Rs. 10,00,000 – 40,00,000
HSBC Rs. 3,00,000 – 25,00,000
Crisil Rs. 4,00,000 – 25,00,000
Deloitte Rs. 6,00,000 – 30,00,000
EY Rs. 6,00,000 – 35,00,000
Bajaj Finance Rs. 4,00,000 – 12,00,000
PWC Rs. 5,00,000 – 20,00,000
KPMG Rs. 4,00,000 – 20,00,000
SBI Rs. 5,00,000 – 15,00,000
Standard Chartered Bank Rs. 8,00,000 – 40,00,000
HDFC Bank Rs. 5,00,000 – 25,00,000

Also Read – How the CFA course offers a competitive advantage over other finance careers

Dual Benefits of CFA and FRM

Earning both the CFA and FRM certifications combines investment and risk management expertise, offering unique advantages:

Advantages of Both Designations

  • Versatility: Holding both certifications makes you versatile, capable of handling investment decisions and managing financial risks effectively.
  • Broader Knowledge: The combo expands your understanding of financial markets, portfolio management, and risk assessment.
  • Enhanced Career Opportunities: Dual-certified professionals can transition seamlessly across roles in investment management, risk analysis, and financial consulting.

Professionals Who Benefit

  • Portfolio Managers: Gain a holistic view of asset optimization and risk management.
  • Risk Analysts: Bolster expertise by merging investment management skills.
  • Consultants: Offer more comprehensive advisory services to clients.
  • Investment Bankers: Navigate financial markets and assess risks with expertise.

Combined Expertise in Investment and Risk Management

The pairing of CFA and FRM certifications bridges investment and risk management, enabling informed decisions aligned with regulations. For those eyeing a diverse finance career, the duo offers versatility, broader expertise, and wider job prospects, unlocking potential in the dynamic finance landscape.

Choosing the Right Path: CFA vs FRM

The choice between CFA and FRM certifications can shape your finance career. To decide wisely:

  • Assess Your Goals: Consider if investment management (CFA) or risk-focused roles (FRM) align better with your interests and career plans.
  • Skills Check: Determine which certification’s skill set complements your ambitions—CFA for broader financial skills or FRM for risk expertise.
  • Commitment: Evaluate the effort needed for each certification against your current responsibilities and dedication to studies.
  • Industry Insights:
  • Market Demand: Research where CFA or FRM certifications are sought-after and align with your career aspirations.
  • Networking: Connect with professionals holding these certifications to understand their career paths and industry insights.
  • Changing Roles: Stay updated on evolving roles in finance and risk management to match certification choices with future trends.
  • Practical Steps:
  • Seek Advice: Consult mentors or career advisors to gain valuable perspectives tailored to your situation.
  • Review Curricula: Study the subjects covered in each certification to align them with your interests and career goals.
  • Financial Considerations: Assess the costs involved for exams, materials, and ongoing support for both certifications.

Making a thoughtful choice between CFA and FRM involves weighing various factors and seeking guidance to align your decision with your career aspirations.

Our CFA Faculty solve your doubts 24*7. Don’t believe us, talk to our students


The choice between CFA and FRM certifications is a crucial decision that can shape your career. Let’s recap the key differences between these certifications.

CFA and FRM certifications provide fantastic career prospects in finance. However, remember that certification is just the beginning. Continuous learning and professional growth are crucial in the constantly evolving financial realm. Continuously track industry trends, regulations, and new technologies. Network and seek mentorship while considering further certifications or advanced degrees. This ongoing dedication is crucial for success in finance.

CFA and FRM certifications hold substantial recognition both nationally and globally. They delineate unique trajectories in finance: CFA emphasises investment management while FRM concentrates on organisational risk management. Neither certification outweighs the other; they simply serve diverse career interests and goals. Your selection between CFA and FRM should align with your specific career aspirations and field of interest.

The CFA program offers a broader scope in investment management, while FRM delves deep into risk management. Regardless of your choice, success in either field is achievable with dedication and hard work.

Aspiring financial analysts aiming to excel in the CFA exams require comprehensive knowledge and skills. Passing these exams can be challenging without proper guidance. IMS Proschool offers full support throughout your CFA journey, ensuring you’re well-prepared for success.

The IMS Proschool’s CFA courses are comprehensive, and designed to align with the latest and most up-to-date curriculum, providing over 250 hours of training and 2000 practice questions for each level. IMS Proschool is committed to helping students build the right skills and succeed in the CFA exams and finance careers.


  1. Is FRM better than CFA?

The question of whether FRM is better than CFA depends on your career goals and interests. Both certifications are highly respected in the finance industry, but they cater to different areas. CFA is focused on investment management and financial analysis, while FRM specialises in risk management. Your choice should align with your specific career aspirations and the field you’re passionate about.

  1. Who earns more, CFA or FRM?

Professionals with CFA and FRM certifications can enjoy competitive earning potential based on factors like location, experience, and roles. CFAs often access diverse career paths and significant salaries with experience, while FRMs, especially in risk-focused roles, also boast strong earning prospects. However, specific salaries vary widely, so researching regional and industry-specific salary data is recommended.

  1. Is it easy to do CFA after FRM?

Transitioning from an FRM to a CFA certification involves additional study due to the CFA program’s extensive coverage of investment management topics. The CFA exams are known for their depth and complexity. While it’s feasible to pursue CFA after FRM, it requires dedicated effort and commitment to succeed.

  1. Can CFA and FRM be done together?

Yes, pursuing both the CFA and FRM certifications concurrently is feasible but demanding. It entails a substantial time commitment and intense dedication to studying for both sets of exams. Many prefer completing one certification before tackling the other to manage the workload effectively. Planning and time management are crucial for success in this dual certification journey.