Understanding executive protection and choosing the right close protection team – what you need to know.
The massive sum of money that Facebook reportedly pays for Mark Zuckerberg’s security recently made world headlines and highlighted the changing trends of personal security for executives and corporates in a global business marketplace.
Executive or VIP protection, also known as close protection, refers to the range of security measures taken to ensure the safety of individuals who may have a high personal risk profile because of public office, employment status, nett worth or public profile.
NSA Global Security Consultants have been worldwide specialists in close protection for over two decades. Executive protection is the core service upon which NSA Global Security Consultants was founded and remains a major component of our service offering today.
Over time we have seen the close protection industry evolve and become a mandatory security resource for many high-level executives and corporate employees. In this time, it has also transformed from a highly tactile trade to one that now demands specialists who are able to combine physical security skills with intelligence, have an understanding of the modern business world and corporate culture and international affairs.
Protecting executives today is about much more than the physical response, it requires a real understanding of how to first identify and then mitigate risk holistically, and how to apply the required skills to effectively manage potential danger.
The skillset demanded has therefore moved far from the old stereotype of bulky men in dark suits and sunglasses, to that of an intelligence driven specialist with a wide range of “softer” skills and the ability to fit effortlessly into the various environments in which he/she may find themselves.
Whilst 20 or 25 years ago, the adage was “watch the hands” and EP teams believed that physically dominating the 5m radius around their principal would protect them from the majority of threats, this has changed in many ways.
Examples of these exponential changes are suicide-bombers who may attempt to target your principal at a 25m distance, drones able to conduct aerial surveillance and fly a lethal payload right above your principal’s head and the increased exposure to “random’, non-specific terrorist attacks have all changed the paradigm and require consideration and a planned response.
Likewise, the consideration of “non-physical’ threats that focus on attacking a Principal’s reputation, stealing intellectual property or conducting financial blackmail via online hacking or other means have to be included in a comprehensive protection plan.
Such significant changes in the requirements of a close protection service, mean that security directors or security managers of corporations should take the following into consideration when appointing a service provider for executive or close protection services:
- Close protection vendor-offerings may vary significantly in experience, methodology and the range of available services. Appointing a service provider that will be responsible for the well being of your company’s most valuable asset, its people, should be treated like every other informed business decision and investment you make;
- You should ensure that you effectively investigate their level of experience and capabilities and that you are buying relevant expertise that can be measured against your company’s particular culture and required level of output;
- An established and reputable personal security company will always deliver a calibre of service that seems proficient and seamless, yet behind this easy execution of your assignment a team of experts have put in hours of hard work in preparing and planning every detail of the assignment to make the executives’ experience as comfortable and non-intrusive as possible;
- Executive protection is not a function that you merely turn over to a vendor, no matter how proficient and professional they are. Accountability must remain with your company and what the service offering ultimately looks like is a function of engaged and considered consultation with a number of role-players including the principal (protected), his family and staff and the corporate head of EP – together with the vendor;
- In many cases (and the Mark Zuckerberg one is a great example), the question of whether a particular executive will require executive protection is a financial consideration, rather than purely a “security” decision. The corporation’s share price could be drastically affected should any harm come to a particular executive (and it need not be the chief executive, president or chairman) and that more than any physical threat becomes the deciding factor;
- Whilst decisions on appointing a service provider will always take cost into consideration, once a decision is made to provide protection for identified Principals, the focus should not only be on opting for the most affordable service provider, but on identifying the most suitable for the service required. Consider the provider that offers a holistic service, delivered by an experienced team of experts at a reasonable fee. In this field as in most others, you get what you pay for;
- Pay attention to the vendor’s employment criteria, pre-employment screening, induction policies as well as their levels and types of insurance.
At NSA Global Security Consultants, we believe in providing unequalled experience, expertise, discretion and professional service to our clients globally.
Our services are provided on both a long-term and an ad-hoc basis worldwide andinclude:
- Tailored Executiveand VIP Protection Services;
- Deployment of Experienced Close Protection Officers(CPOs) and Teams;
- Secure Transportation;
- Executive Residential Protection;
- Technical Surveillance Counter Measures;
- Protective Intelligence and 24/7 Operational Support.