We often counsel students who are confused between choosing CFA vs FRM. To an informed person there might be a world of difference between these two certifications, but to a novice there is very little difference. It also does not help matters that there is a strong overlap between the syllabuses of the two certifications.
Let's take a look at both of these certifications on their own, and later on we can compare CFA vs FRM head to head.
The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA Program) was originally intended for equity analysts working in the investment banking sector. Over a period of time (since it's inception in 1963), this has expanded so that a CFA Program is now often compared to an Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
It has become one of the de-facto certifications that a professional graduate goes for when trying to target some specific positions in the investment and banking industry.
The Financial Risk Manager (FRM®) certification was originally intended for candidates who wanted to pursue the profession of a risk manager in financial institutions.
Courses Compared CFA vs FRM
The course contents of FRM® and CFA Program also vary a lot from each other. The CFA Program covers more on financial analysis, ethics, asset valuation and portfolio management, whereas FRM® covers more topics on risk, valuation at risk, models of risk, credit risk and so on. There is some common overlap between these two courses which are areas like credit derivatives, hedge funds, fixed income, basic statistics, risk/return metrics and correlation.
But please note that the areas which do not overlap are as diverse as the careers they cater to.
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