May 20, 2024

APRP Prep Tips: Pepe Santos, APRP

Pepe Santos, APRP

Nacha frequently asks APRPs to share their best prep tips with those committed to taking the APRP exam. Pepe Santos, Risk Manager, Emerging Payments & Card Risk Capital One, shared the following thoughts with Nacha:

Connect with APRPs to Gather Lessons Learned

  • This is key for you to identify best learning practices, key documents and resources, and to start building a support circle in your network.

APRP Trainings

Find an APRP Buddy

  • I cannot overstate the importance of finding a "buddy", either through the APRP Buddy Program (deadline to request a 2024 APRP Buddy is June 1) or through your internal network. I would highly advise identifying someone who has completed the accreditation to ensure your conversations are productive. 
  • Once you identify a buddy, my advice would be to hold an initial meeting to lay out your plan and capture suggestions, but begin more active sessions after you've completed the next three steps

Risk Management Diagnostics & Assessments

  • Make sure you understand the different risk diagnostics (e.g., business continuity, credit, operational, compliance, systemic, etc.) at a high level, and assessments conducted to help support findings in payments risks. 
  • This will help you better comprehend the materials and associate the linkages across payments rails and operations as you begin to dive deep into the documents. 

Map out the APRP Handbook

  • When you sign up for your test you will receive an APRP Handbook; this is your "Payments Bible" for your test. 
  • As you begin reading the handbook, I highly advise you map out the chapters, sections, key components, and documents referenced in each section. I used a spreadsheet to be able to filter rapidly when I needed to go back to certain sections.
  • To me this was the most critical phase of my learning journey, as it allowed me to breakdown the materials in more simple terms and to comprehend how relevant documentation speaks to key components of the APRP exam (e.g., Payments Systems, Fundamentals of Payments Risk Management, etc.). 

Understand the FFIEC's IT Examination Handbook Focus and Intent

  • The FFIEC Council provides uniform principles, standards, and procedures for the federal examination of financial institutions. If you understand the objectives and requirements embedded within the different IT Booklets, it will help you identify the key components involved in proper governance and oversight conducted by federal bodies. 
  • I suggest you focus on identifying the requirements, suggested program processes associated with each topic, and risk management strategies linked to each area. 

Regulatory Environment

  • This topic can be quite complex if you let it be. Focus on understanding the purpose behind each of the federal regulations, guidelines and rules. For example, what do Fed Circulars focus on? What are the federal regulations covering checks?. 

APRP Flashcards

  • I was advised to use the APRP Flashcards throughout my study plan, but personally I found doing this confusing with so much information to absorb throughout the documents. 
  • What worked for me was leaving the Flashcards towards the end, then using them as a reassurance of my knowledge and to test my comprehension of the different topics being tested.
  • On those that I was not comfortable with, or constantly missing, I would then go back to my "APRP Payments Bible", the APRP Handbook, to refresh my knowledge on those topics. 


"It is important to identify the process that works best for you, However, if you focus on understanding the materials, and how everything is interconnected from a macro perspective, you will be setting up yourself for success regardless of which approach you may decide to take." 

Nacha thanks Pepe for sharing so many ideas for preparing for the APRP exam. Register for the APRP or learn more by visiting

Please note that the views expressed here do not constitute official guidance from Nacha.