The FRM certification has been consistently gaining popularity over the last decade or so. Banks, corporations and regulators alike were shocked into action after the last financial crisis and Risk Management is now more important in all areas of banking and finance and even corporate management.
When it comes to Risk Management, FRM is the gold standard. I cleared the CFA Level 1 and FRM Level 1 exams within two weeks of each other back in 2009, and I definitely remember sweating more preparing for the FRM exam. It’s more quant-heavy and requires a deeper understanding of several mathematical and statistical concepts.
What to look for in an FRM prep course?
Most of my colleagues who cleared the FRM and CFA exams did indeed use a prep course, videos or extra study material. I myself used them for both the FRM exams as well as Level 1 and 2 of the CFA exam. Here is how they help you:
- Saves Time – The recommended readings are far too extensive. They make for good reading, but its very time inefficient to go through them to clear the exams. Prep courses give you the same amount of information but in a condensed and easier to read format.
- Saves Effort– FRM is not the easiest of exams. Its definitely more quanty than the CFA. Most packages get you access to instructional videos which essentially just feed you all that you need to know in an easily digestible format. This helps you better grasp the topics and that translates to higher performance in the exams.
- Increases your success rate – You get access to question banks and some providers also allow you access to doubt clearing sessions which help out a lot. The idea is to get you better prepared by focusing on things that matter.
- Saves Money – Reappearing for the exams can have a significant monetary cost. Most of these courses pay for themselves when you factor in the increased success rates.
After considerable research, and based on own experience of earning the FRM designation, here are the best FRM courses.
Analyst Prep is a well-known e-learning provider in the financial certification prep space and their CFA courses are pretty well regarded. I decided to dive into their FRM program, and it has quickly become one of my top picks.
My favourite part about the Analyst Prep courses are definitely the video lessons. FRM topics are very technical and even though I love math and have an engineering background, the FRM course material was a bit too heavy and boring for me when I was prepping for it back in the day. Which is why I can’t possibly overstate the skill it took for the video presenter to cover these topics with such excitement and verve that I actually enjoyed watching them! He is like one of those cool professors (I am sure you know the type!) who really gives it their all to make sure their class stays invested in a very technical topic and I really do appreciate that.
The videos are peppered with nice anecdotes, fun examples and a language that is plain rather than overly droning like you would expect from the FRM course material. Definitely my favourite part and I admit I watched them a lot longer than you would expect from a guy who earned his FRM designation well over a decade ago.
The Analyst Prep online platform is also pretty solid. It’s fast, its stable, it keeps everything well organized. You will enjoy learning with it. I work with a lot FinTech start-ups and one thing they do is called gamification. Gamification essentially means you break down a project into hundreds of small tasks and then give the player incentive to complete those little tasks and every time you complete a task, you get a small dopamine reward that keeps you going. The Analyst Prep platform gave me a similar feeling.
There are completion bars for each topic, and you really feel driven to get to 100% which encourages learning. You can also measure your own performance against other users on the platform which also gives it a competitive bend. If you are taking the FRM exam, I am going to go ahead and assume you are the competitive type like me and you enjoy the feeling of beating other people’s scores. So yea, I like all these features here that push you to learn more and do better.
With regards to the packages, I suggest either the “Learn + Practice Package” or the “Unlimited Package” both of which have the video lessons as they are the best part of the course. The main difference between these two packages is whether you get 12-month access or lifetime access and you can decide which one best suits your needs.
If you are on a budget, then this is the best package to help you prepare. The best part is that each the entire FRM course material is divided into several courses so you can pick and choose which to buy. For example, if you only need help with Credit Risk, you can choose to only but that course. This modular nature can help you save money while focusing on your weakest areas.
The content of the course is good. Each module comes with several hours of on-demand videos. The trainer is an experienced finance professional and the quality of the training material will become obvious to you quickly. Its a quick and relatively easy dive into the FRM curriculum and if you are pressed for time, then you should consider this as a vital asset.
Here are the links to all the courses for FRM Part 1:
- Foundations of Risk Management
- Quantitative Analysis
- Financial Markets and Products (1/2)
- Financial Markets and Products (2/2)
- Valuation and Risk Models (Part 1/2)
- Valuation and Risk Models (Part 2/2)
Bionic Turtle is a well-known brand for FRM prep courses. They are laser-focused on just one thing (the FRM exams), and so naturally they have become exceptionally good at it. Their success is showcased by the large community of registered students on their official forums. Just have a look at how active their forums are!
The biggest strength of Bionic Turtle are their test resources and videos. They have by far the best practice questions of any provider and it is apparent they meticulously and diligently hand craft each of those. Whatever course you decide to pick, you need to go with BT for the practice questions.
But it is their user community that makes Bionic Turtle rather unique. It doesn’t feel like some large corporation hired a bunch of professors to write some guides and put them up on sale. David Harper (the founder) has managed to create an actively engaged community around the FRM and he is undoubtedly a great teacher.
On the forums, it feels like all the aspirants there are going through the same trials and tribulations that you are and that can go a long way to give you the one thing that you need the most – discipline. if you have a question, you can just search on the forums and it is very likely it has already been answered. If not, David is very responsive and active and will likely help you out personally.
The material itself is top-notch with study notes, interactive mock exams, videos, interactive quizzes, and even spreadsheets for the advanced versions. There is something for everyone. I found that the material was well suited for beginners and there were plenty of questions to whet the appetite of finance pros as well.
Bionic Turtle packages are also the most reasonably priced for the rich amount of content they provide. Big corporations usually have a brand surcharge that you end up paying for but you save on that with Bionic Turtle. Oh and there is a further discount for users from low income countries. That gets them a +1 from me.
4. Wiley Efficient Learning FRM
Wiley is another trusted brand in the broader education industry and they have been making courses for quite a few finance certifications and exams. The best part about their packages is their modular nature. You can take the basic package and then add on additional services based on what you need. There are videos of of around 30 minutes each which give you a digestible chunk of information without feeling overwhelmed.
The added packages including things like a mock exam, question banks and formula sheets. This modular approach is beneficial in my opinion as you get to pick and choose what you want. That being said, what you get overall is sort of limited. I would have preferred more videos, questions and mock exams. Its good for the price though. You also get a study manual which has dozen of pages of formulas, flashcards, and other tools to help students keep track of their learning and progress. There is a mobile app which has some videos and practice questions.
Wiley is sort of like the jack of all trades, master of none provider. Their materials are second only to Bionic Turtle and on par with Schweser. Wiley questions are also pretty tough and will really push your understanding of the concepts to the limit. But they are more akin to what you would find on a university exam rather than the actual FRM exam. As I said, Wiley sort of occupies the middle ground with no super strengths but no severe weaknesses either. Although I would have liked more mock exams , but the content itself is solid.
5. Kaplan Schweser FRM
Schweser has been the gold standard for other exams (mostly the CFA) and they are definitely a professional and established provider of such course materials. I am intimately familiar with their material as back in 2010, I used Schweser for clearing my CFA exam and it served me quite well.
Their FRM package also has the same quality with quite a few interesting value added services. However, most of the best features are locked behind the higher priced packages. The online weekly classes, online mock exams and the secret sauce would require paying substantially more. Schweser has created an interesting product but you’d have to pay up and get PremiumPlus package to really benefit from it all.
That gating of their best features behind the expansive PremiumPlus package might be a turn off for learners who are paying for the course themselves instead of getting corporate sponsorship. The online review workshop, mock exams, resources library require the higher priced packages. Kaplan does offer a pass guarantee though, which means that if students don’t clear the exam on their first attempt, they wont charge oyu for the course material again. I personally dont find this to be much useful since you should be more focused on clearing the exam than pass guarantees but its something that they mention nonetheless.
Schweser is definitely my top pick for CFA, but perhaps not for the FRM. They are what I call a by-the-book course provider, and their higher pricing reflects that. The fact is that Bionic Turtle has this personalised and dedicated approach to FRM, that they just do everything better.
6. Others FRM Courses
There are quite a few other providers but to be honest, I don’t think anyone really needs to know which is the #17 best provider, so I am going to keep this list short and helpful. Good luck with the FRM exam and take it from someone who has been at this very spot – you have a wonderful career waiting for you on the other side!
- Career Options as a Certified Financial Risk Manager FRM
- Why Become a Certified Financial Risk Manager?
- Bionic Turtle FRM Course Review
- Commercial Banking & Credit Analyst (CBCA) Certification Review
- Best Risk Management Courses
- Best Credit Analysis Courses