If you look back at the last century, you will find that most of the financial crises were a result of improper risk management. The crashes in the early 20th century might still be excusable since there was not enough computing power or established procedures to properly run all the calculations and perform scenario testing. But the more recent crises of 1997 and 2008 can be squarely blamed on inadequate risk management and more egregiously – not listening to what their risk managers were saying.
As someone who entered the finance world just after the 2008 crisis, I saw this change first hand. Banks, governments and other corporations were hiring risk managers and paying a premium to get their newly established risk divisions staffed. Unceasing financial stress since then has meant that risk management continues to remain an attractive career option with certifications like the FRM being the most popular. History repeats itself and for someone interested in Risk Management, that may just be a good thing. As the latest crisis (or the inevitable future ones) unfolds, you can expect a similar trend. Corporate and sovereign balance sheets are stressed, investments are on hold, money is pouring back into safe haven assets like the greenback and bonds. This is the time when Risk Managers thrive and the FRM is the certainly best risk certification for that.
What to look for in a FRM prep course?
While choosing a prep course for the FRM exam (or other similar certifications), you need to look at a couple of things:
- You first priority is to increase your chances of success. You need something with a laser focused study plan to make sure you are prioritizing what is important to clear the exam. You also should expect access to quizzes, mock exams, topic summaries etc. that all come together to better prepare you for the exam.
- You need something that saves you time. I tried going through the recommended readings back when I was taking the exam, and that approach is simply not ideal for students or professions with things to do. There is so much redundant information and you lose focus of whats important. You need prep courses that condense the material into nice readable chunks for you.
- They also make things easy for you. Most of these packages come with beginner friendly instructional videos that ease you in and help you better grasp the topics. The FRM curriculum is not the easiest, so the extra help is appreciated.
Taking all these factors into account and my own experience of earning the FRM designation, Bionic Turtle is my top pick. It gives you what you need and it does that at an exceptionally reasonable price point.
Is Bionic Turtle worth it?
1. Course Material
Bionic Turtle has been around for a long while, and they focus exclusively on the FRM exam. This means that they have perfected their course material over the course of the last 15+ years and each iteration is better than the last. All relevant topics are covered and explained in enough detail to make it suitable for audiences at all skill levels.
I personally enjoy reading finance books, but for the FRM exam, going through hundreds of pages of normal material is not ideal. Its not just a matter of saving time, but you also lose focus of what’s important to clear the exam. The human brain does not save all the information it comes across, it only saves parts of it. You need to make sure you pick the right part and the material here is designed to do just that. With proper formatting and removal of unnecessary fluff, you focus on the right parts.
2. Video content
The video content is usually the favourtie part for many FRM takers. If you are crunched for time, this is the absolute best method to quickly get up to speed. It’s not easy to make educational content binge-worthy (just ask your professor), but I find that BT does come closer than most others on this front. They make extensive use of examples and infographics to get the point across and this also makes the content more digestible.
The best part about the video is that they make the content a bit more accessible. FRM topics are not very easy to grasp, especially for those without a solid math background. Videos make that easy and they have a good job with all their video content.
3. The Forums
One of the best and unique features that you get access to via Bionic Turtle are the forums. And the forums are actually ACTIVE and full of fellow risk busters trying to earn the FRM. You can ask questions here, find motivation, discuss schedules and do all that other stuff with like-minded people which really just acts as a force multiplier.
Looking back at my own career and based on feedback from students, I feel that the proper motivation is a very underrated aspect that students tend to ignore. It can really make or break your career.
4. Interactive Quizzes and Mock Exams
Most people swear by the importance of mock exams to really cement your learning and build confidence before the actual exams. Mock quizzes and exams are certainly an important aspect of reinforcement learning and BT does rather well on this front.
The interactive quizzes are designed to mimic real testing conditions, mostly form a time-pressure standpoint.
5. Value and Pricing
The courses are very reasonably priced for what they offer. I feel the time savings alone makes them a no-brainer at their current price point. Most people taking the FRM already have a job or are in college and are generally pressed for time. If you don’t have much time left before the exam, then the value of this course increases even further thanks to all the time saving material.
Lastly, the difference between clearing the exam or having to appear again next year, can set you back career wise and will obviously have a financial cost associated with it. Bionic Turtle also offers discounts for low income countries, students, veterans etc. so I suggest you check that out to see if you qualify.
Which package to choose?
Bionic Turtle offers three packages – Basic, advanced and professional. I highly recommend you get at least the advanced package because of the videos as they are indeed one of the best features of the course. If you are certain that you don’t need the videos, you can go for basic. The professional package is the most expensive and I think most users can just stick to advanced.
Professional gives you even more videos and learning spreadsheets (Excel or online) which may be worth it for the most advanced users, but its not a game changer in my opinion. The additional videos provide a fast-track supplementary review of the course material. While the spreadsheets help enhance quantitative learning for the FRM exam.
Getting the Part 1+2 bundle is also cheaper than getting them separately. I recommend you use that discount and get the bundle because you are going to need this course even more for Level 2. And don’t worry, you will get access to the updated material if any updates are made in the interim. Here is a brief summary of the most important features:
|Study Notes/ Questions||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Interactive Mock Exams||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Price||Check latest||Check latest||Check latest|
Bionic Turtle Discount
Bionic Turtle does offer a nice discount to full-time students, veterans or international learners from low income countries. Make sure to check if you qualify for the discount. Here is the link that takes you the Bionic Turtle website.