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Saman Bandara: Partner, Head of Forensic Consulting and Insurance Practice, EY Vietnam

Saman Bandara, IRM Technical Specialist


Head of Forensic Consulting and Insurance Practice

EY Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos


How did you get your job?

My situation may be quite different from other risk managers. Initially, I became an auditor after becoming a Chartered Accountant in Sri Lanka, and moved back to Vietnam as an audit manager to a big 4 firm. 

Thereafter, I moved to Singapore where I was totally focusing on the audit of insurance companies, and started to hear more about risk management than I used to do in the past. More and more I learnt about the insurance business which is in itself managing the risk of others.

I also started hearing more about fraud risk and management of fraud risk, and I developed an interest in this area. I started studying forensic accounting and ended up being certified in fraud investigations, and moved to Vietnam again to start the insurance practice for EY in Vietnam.

While providing professional services to the insurance companies, I realised that insurance are managing the risk of others, but they are not very good at managing their own risk, as a result, I started thinking of developing a risk management practice. However, in addition to the fraud risk management where I was already an expert, I did not have a full comprehension about the other aspect of risk management concepts.

Then I started looking around for formal qualifications, and fortunately, found the IRM and its relevant courses. With a lot enthusiasm I completed the IRM's Certificate in Risk Management in Financial Services and that gave me the necessary information/ tools to develop my risk management skills.

What’s a typical day like as a Head of Forensic Consulting and Insurance Practice?

As a partner in EY’s risk management practice, my daily activities are presenting to clients on project deliverables, conducting seminars and presentations. Also, designing service offerings to promote risk management consulting, writing articles for industry magazines and public speaking on risk management.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

This is an area which companies cannot afford to ignore, and risk managers are one of the most critical people for a successful business. Working with risk management folks, educating them as well as being educated daily with the interaction with them brings me the most happiness.

What are the challenges?

The main challenge I face as a consultant is being able to persuade our prospective clients on the importance of risk management since risk management awareness in countries like Vietnam is at a very minimal level.

Secondly, finding the right people with the risk awareness to my team has also been a challenge though it has been better in the recent years.

In what way are your IRM qualifications relevant?

IRM qualifications provide the necessary education step by step so that anyone interested in risk is able to develop a very strong understanding with proper commitments. I do not mean to say that IRM exams are easy; they are very difficult, but carefully designed programs to provide the necessary information and education for one to be able to be an effective risk manager.

What would you say to others thinking about joining IRM as a member?

If one wants to be a risk manager, this is the gold standard and I strongly recommend IRM membership and qualifications.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions? Has being linked to the IRM helped?

Being a partner in the risk management consulting of EY where I switched myself to a consulting role from being an auditor for long time, IRM has given me the necessary education for me to be successful in my risk career.

Top Tips

  • Be ready spend time looking for the right qualification; IRM is the best choice as far as I am concerned although there are many certifications available out there.
  • Also have determination to complete the examinations and obtain practical work experience.