Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Five years ago this week, a financial expert I know went all-in for the FRM certification. He was a self-driven individual; even so, the mounting responsibilities at work forced him to put off his exams by a year.
Everyone around him thought it was game-over for him, that the promotion he had been eyeing would go to another person. This friend of mine, being a genuine lover of knowledge, never put down those books.
He would spare a few minutes to study every day. He knew that in another year, he would have to prove his skills in the rescheduled test. It didn’t take long for management to notice the difference in the quality of his work.
Even before sitting for his assessment, this risk analyst was transforming the own little environment in his workplace. He was more efficient and more analytical. Within a year, he introduced new strategies that helped his organization seize several opportunities.
In a relatively short time, he was the go-to person for challenges in risk modeling and evaluation. That promotion came before he even sat for his examination.
That, my friend, is why I am writing to you about the value of the FRM program. Exams come and go, they are a one-day affair, but the knowledge remains with you for life.
Here are some pointers we would like to remind you of:
Understanding the concepts is the way to go
There are two types of candidates- the first one is in it to pass a test, while the second one is in it to understand and increase knowledge. The second candidate, as you can guess, is the one that ends up performing well and getting the most value from their education.
These candidates that are focused on knowledge acquisition seek to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter as opposed to memorizing content.
They could sit for the exam a year later and still perform well. If that profile describes you, you shouldn’t feel disappointed by the postponed exams.
Valuable knowledge is forever.
It’s time to re-focus
This break is your chance to go back to your books and seek a deeper understanding of the FRM topics. It’s a second chance that many do not get.
I have interacted with former candidates after their certification, and for some, they haven’t changed a bit- they have the same job, same salary, same insecurities and same old dissatisfaction.
You can change the outlook of your future right now by becoming a skills-oriented candidate. Now, you have the time to learn from a variety of study materials. You also have the time to practically apply what you have learnt at work or volunteer positions.
Ask questions and interact with your study materials
The highly sought-after skills in management positions include critical thinking, fast decision making and analytical skills. These abilities are horned when you ask questions as opposed to consuming anything that is served on your intellectual plate.
Now that you have some additional time for preparation, you can master challenging concepts by asking questions and investing in research. You must challenge your old understanding and create new ways of thinking. Take advantage of the time you have now.
Remember the bigger picture
Why do professionals seek certification from difficult programs? The reasons often include:
- Skills improvement
- Updating knowledge
- Personal development
You will hardly find anyone that says they are pursuing the FRM program to simply pass the exams. If you study for the love of knowledge, these things are achievable even with the postponed exams.
An examination only serves as proof of what you know and how skillful you are.
So, focus on the bigger picture.
You have already scored highly on your employer’s criteria for the next promotion. When you enrolled for the challenge, you demonstrated a thirst for knowledge and new, better skills. You showed that you were in search of higher standards, efficiency and better delivery for your work and clients.
Right now, you must show how the program is helping you get to that desired level.
- Focus on improving processes and providing solutions to problems
- Interact with top management and propose new strategies that enhance value
- Resolve conflicts in your team while encouraging debate
- Improve your proficiency with data
- Be a better follower and a better leader through communication
- Forecast, innovate and transform old ways of doing things
Personal fulfillment from education
Passing your exams is a great accomplishment for many candidates. In truth, however, you derive more from the process than from the outcome. Exams may be off, but learning hasn’t stopped.
A study by Gallup shows that people who use their skills every day are:
- 3X more likely to have a better quality of life
- 6X more likely to find satisfaction in their work
- 8% more productive
- 15% less likely to quit
Aim, therefore, to strengthen and use your abilities. Set goals for yourself and accomplish them every week or month. Show and tell others what you can do from your new knowledge. Test it practically and see your work become easier and rewarding.
- Keep acquiring new knowledge with the same passion as before
- Turn yourself into an excellent time manager
- Socialize more to improve your communication skills
- Discover more, explore tirelessly, and grow exponentially
- Inspire those around you with your new abilities
That’s personal fulfillment in action.
Your education is more in tune with real life
How well can you manage the risk of cancelled projects at work? Learn the process by managing yourself at this time. There is no better reflection for this common scenario at work than the deferred exams.
Skills such as prioritizing difficult topics for your current study, assessing risks such as short memory and breaking down your goals into smaller deliverables could very well apply to your delayed projects at work.
Think transition and transformation
The financial implications of the pandemic could be even worse than what we see now. Businesses will need experts to help them navigate out of losses and into profitability. Strategies will be needed in place to predict and place contingencies for such events in the future. All that will require you not just to have passed the FRM exam, but to have an ability to think outside the box.
Companies will be trying to keep their teams lean. They will be experimenting with new technology, rethinking supply chains, digitizing operations and implementing other strategies to cut costs, improve productivity and reduce losses. Are you mentally strong enough to take the lead in the creation, assessment, implementation and management of these strategies?
Take time now to improve your digital proficiency skills. Research the business-specific challenges faced in your organization and from your knowledge start finding their solutions.
Start thinking of a transition plan for your organization, so that when you are called to act, your mind is up to the task.
What you have learnt vs. What you can do
In an ideal world, certification would be enough to prove everything about what you know, but not in this world. An acute skills shortage has forced employers to keenly scrutinize a potential candidate by what they can do and not what they learnt.
Grow your skills and prepare for future industry challenges. Future-proof your skills by gaining new knowledge on technology, including big data, AI and cloud computing. Find out how these trends relate to financial risk management.
As you improve your technological skills, also remember to enhance adherence to ethical standards and industry compliance. For value creation and job security, studying the competition and finding ways to keep your organization ahead can help.
For career acceleration, demonstrate strong leadership skills and always keep your eye on the ball.
Find ways to market your skills
Before sitting for your exams and gaining certification, there are several ways you can leverage your current skills for employment. Learn how to showcase your employability skills from the program.
Get into networking by updating and enhancing your social profiles. Now may also be the time to do those informal interviews, which can happen by email, in readiness for when you get certified.
One of the benefits of registering for course programs by reputable bodies like GARP is certainty.
This professional body has been around for some time, and will likely remain the industry’s leading association for all-things-risk for many years to come. Your exams are only deferred, not cancelled, keep preparing. Your certification waits.
The actual value of an education goes beyond the papers presented in front of you. But, when the challenge comes around, you must still be ready to pass. After that, the only thing that will set you apart from the crowd is the difference you bring on the table, not the title.
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