When Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business learned in October that it had been accepted as an academic partner by the Global Association of Risk Professionals, the Jersey City-based organization that grants Financial Risk Manager certification to financial services industry executives, it found itself in a rather exclusive group.
“The FRM status is recognized worldwide and to be among 60-odd academic institutions worldwide with GARP affiliation is very meaningful for our students,” said Mark Ritter, executive-in-residence at the Welch business school. “When our students are applying for jobs, anyone in risk management or in the financial world will know exactly how they’re trained, exactly what they’ve done and know what standard they are.”
Former investment banker Mark Ritter, executive-in-residence at Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business. Photo by Phil Hall
“We are very pleased to welcome Sacred Heart University to the GARP Partnership for Risk Education,” said Chris Donohue, GARP‘s managing director, when announcing the university’s new status. “The master’s in finance and investment management program offered by the Welch College of Business is a comprehensive program specifically developed with the requirements of global risk management in mind. Upon completing this program, students will be well-positioned to pursue the FRM designation and a career in the global risk management profession.”
The private university in Fairfield is only the second Connecticut school with GARP certification, joining the University of Connecticut. Although there is no cost for membership in the association, “Standards are very high,” Ritter said.
“Every major bank and financial institution is a member,” he said. “I am a member as an individual, having been in banking for 20-odd years.”
“We had to go through a process where we handed over our curriculum to GARP and they assessed our curriculum. We had to comply to 70 percent of what they’re looking for in respect to students being certified for an FRM. It was about three months’ worth of work, going backward and forward between GARP and ourselves, before they understood our curriculum and we understood what they were looking for.”
With the new partnership with GARP, students seeking the FRM certification will not have to pay for all of their exam costs and certain books will be available at discounted prices. The FRM test can either be taken while the student is still in pursuit of a degree or after graduating.
For Ritter, having the chance to gain FRM certification could not have come at a more serendipitous time, especially as risk management has become an acute priority in the financial world.
“When Dodd-Frank was enacted in 2010 and the rules were promulgated by the CFTC, the SEC etc., the emphasis on proprietary trading and risk-taking within banks declined,” he said. “However, the compliance aspect – whether that is operational risk, market risk, credit risk, etc. – has increased. Furthermore, supply chain risk and operational risk are key topics at the moment. When looking at logistics, people are looking at that in greater detail – whereas before, it was seen as more of a back-office function. Now it is very much in the forefront because there is so much money to be made or lost.”
Ritter said that students that obtain FRM certification will find themselves with a major advantage once they leave school.
“One of my roles is to help our students find meaningful positions based on their skill set,” he said. “We believe our association with GARP will further enhance our students’ ability to seek roles in risk management positions.”