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Meet a Certified FRM

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Hannes Valtonen

Hong Kong

Job at time of interview: Chief Compliance Officer, PAG

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO IN YOUR CURRENT JOB?

I am in charge of regulatory compliance, internal controls and operational risk management in a fund management company with a range of investment strategies (spread across hedge funds, distressed assets, private equity and real estate), covering the Asia-Pacific region.

 

HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR WAY TO THE FINANCIAL RISK INDUSTRY?

Before working in financial services, I was an internal auditor. Then I transitioned into more operations, compliance, and risk management related roles.

 

WHAT WAS YOUR PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND PRIOR TO SITTING FOR THE FRM EXAM?

I had held several internal audit roles in Europe and Asia, and had just taken on a new assignment establishing a compliance and internal control function at a fund management company in Vietnam.

 

HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE FRM DESIGNATION, AND WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SIT FOR THE FRM EXAM?

At the time, I was setting up a new risk management function at a fund management company with London-listed funds. I came across the FRM while I was doing research to find useful information and resources on risk management for investment management - especially for an emerging market risk environment. The FRM curriculum and exam was a perfect fit for my requirements.

 

WHAT STRATEGIES DID YOU USE TO STUDY FOR THE FRM EXAM?

I primarily used exam preparation books to study. Because I had taken CFA previously, some of the investment risk management curriculum was familiar, but it was still useful to cover again. I focused on areas I was less familiar with, such as enterprise risk management, risk frameworks and operational risk management. Fortunately, these topics happened to coincide with needs at work, so the exam preparation was also a rewarding process and I discovered information I could directly apply at my firm.

 

HOW DOES THE FRM COMPLEMENT YOUR OTHER EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND (SUCH AS DEGREES EARNED OR PROFESSIONAL DESIGNATIONS ACHIEVED)?

I took the CFA certification previously, and found the FRM curriculum was a useful complement to the CFA’s financial analysis/risk assessment. The fact that the FRM covers various disciplines of risk management, as well as practical applications, was particularly helpful.

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE CONSIDERING TAKING THE FRM EXAM?

Consider how you can apply risk management knowledge to your job and future professional career. Focusing on practical applications and bigger picture can help motivate you to study and to prepare for the exam.

 

IN WHAT WAYS DOES THE FRM HELP YOU WITH YOUR DAILY RESPONSIBILITIES?

The FRM gave me knowledge and credibility from day one in leading the risk management project in Vietnam. I was able to create the risk management framework and objectives in this assignment, and bring in resources, consultants, systems, and staff to build up the function. Senior management was brought into the risk assessment process from an enterprise perspective, and structured risk management was built into the investment process.

 

IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT SKILLS AND INSIGHTS WOULD A CERTIFIED FRM HAVE OVER A JOB APPLICANT THAT DOESN'T HOLD THE DESIGNATION?

Certified FRMs have made a professional commitment to developing themselves in the risk management field, and have the ability to understand and apply the concepts learned through FRM in their jobs.

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