Men clad in suits, appearing calm yet definitely alert, and within hug’s reach to a VIP—executive protection has become a need for high-profile personalities nowadays.
Some may see them as bodyguards, but this term is a result of the stereotype of tall, burly men in muscle shirts ready to take down anyone who gets close to their principal. Until now, you may have the same impression. Executive protection is actually a lot more than what meets the eye. Let’s explore why.
What is Executive Protection?
Executive protection or EP is the professional service of performing risk mitigation measures to ensure the safety and security of the client, known as the “principal”. By risk mitigation, there are security measures taken to prevent unfortunate incidents and catastrophes.
Principals are at risk due to their distinct status with regard to high net worth, popularity, and political, religious or socio-cultural affiliations. Also called as close protection, this service may extend to the principal’s immediate or extended family to prevent crimes like extortion and kidnapping for ransom.
How is an Executive Protection Specialist Trained?
Professionals in the EP industry go by varied titles, such as executive protection specialists, protective service agents, and personal protection specialists—the definitions vary across countries and among executive protection companies themselves. Even the qualifications are not clear-cut. Despite the differences, the nature of work remains the same.
EP specialists must assess the likelihood of a risk before it becomes an actual problem to the principal. Thus, they should have strong analytical skills and be in excellent physical and mental condition. They should be team players and perform well under pressure. Experience in law enforcement and military operations is a plus.
Agents undergo regular training from their EP providers or firms, often based on US Secret Service training, with a focus on risk mitigation measures such as:
● Protective Intelligence
● Explosive Device Detection
● Ambush Recognition
● Crisis Management
● Motorcade and Vehicular Safety
● Defensive Driving
● Media Control
● Crowd Control
● Impostor Detection
● First Aid and CPR
What You Can Expect With Executive Protection Services
Depending on the level of risk, event, circumstances and other requests of the principal, the cost of executive protection may vary from $500 to up to $1000 per day. A complete security team for a week’s worth of protection may cost up to $20,000.
There is a good reason why close protection is expensive. Since the principal is a valued client, the risk extends to the inner circle—immediate family, colleagues and even the EP specialist himself.
Executive protection is an umbrella term for many other measures undertaken by EP specialists, including:
● Protective Surveillance – When executive protection seems too obtrusive for the principal, protective surveillance is a lighter approach to respect privacy with the confidence that a protection team is nearby.
● Counter Surveillance – Through intelligence reports and information, EP specialists can immediately eliminate risk and protect the principal.
● Residential or Office Security – Executive protection may extend to the home or office, where the principal keeps valuable information, equipment and objects. EP companies can deploy agents to help safeguard the home or facility.
● Travel Security – Ports of entry and exit, especially the airport, are particularly high-risk for the principal. EP specialists coordinate with law enforcement agencies and airline staff to ensure a safe travel.
Who Can Avail of Executive Protection?
Picture this scenario:
A formidable-looking woman in her early 50’s walks out of a tall building—one hand donning a wide-brimmed hat and the other holding a smartphone, perhaps to check an urgent email. Meanwhile, two snappy men in crisp attire escort her out and into a limousine, taking one last glance around before they enter the vehicle, which speeds off immediately as they step in.
Could the woman be a business tycoon? An infamous politician? A renowned celebrity?
Perhaps. You may have seen this scenario a fair number of times, often in awe of how much value these people have.
But actual crimes victimizing VIPs or their properties can get nasty. On June 29 2013, burglars robbed the house of former Malaysia Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, taking valuables worth almost $6000.
Generally, principals are politicians, including former heads of state and their families; influential and controversial personalities like celebrities, authors and international leaders; and wealthy businessmen, both UHNWIs or HNWIs (Ultra High Net Worth Individuals or High Net Worth Individuals) and their corporate colleagues. Because these principals matter so much in value and net worth, executive protection is almost always a daily commodity for them.
If you believe you are at high risk, executive protection is a wise investment. Security firms and EP companies will be happy to accommodate your request for close protection and send you a customized quote.
Why Companies Should Consider Executive Protection
Current heads of state and top public officials usually rely on the protection provided for by their respective governments. The United States has Secret Service, Canada has the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Protective Policing, South Korea has the Presidential Security Service, and so on.
But what about big corporations such as those belonging to the Fortune 500? Or law firms handling high-profile cases like money laundering, drug trafficking and crimes of humanity? Or many other non-government groups not entitled to state protection? For companies like these, executive protection for their top-level executives, board members and lawyers is essential. Without the presence, influence and expertise of their VIPs, their businesses and organizations will crumble. Despite the hefty price tag of executive protection, it is still a small price to pay to ensure that their best interests remain intact.
The image of executive protection specialists should grow out of the “bodyguard” stereotype. Considering the nature of the job and the risks involved, it is a far cry from what Hollywood depicts. Beneath the sharp demeanor and the black suit of an EP agent, executive protection is not all that glamorous as it seems.
Whether you’re an individual, a business owner, or related to someone influential—remember that you don’t pay for cheap security, and good security doesn’t come cheap. If you believe you hold great personal risk, do consider executive protection for yourself, your family and your assets.