What Is Executive Protection?
Varying in clientele and scope of work, there are almost 14,000 contract security companies in the United States. What's more, the 2011-2021 period has seen a steady rise in the market size of said services, including executive protection. Similarly, most other projections imply continued growth in the near future. But what is executive protection, and how does it differ from any other security service?
Before we explore more, we should ask: Why the multi-billion-dollar spike in spending on hired protection? The reasons are multifaceted and not as intuitive as one might assume. Generally speaking, they include but are not limited to:
- Rise in the number of gated communities,
- Increased perception of global economic and political instability,
- Surge in real and perceived risk of crime, and
- Boost in budgets for security personnel to account for inflation.
We may attribute some of the points to the need for EP teams to keep up with malefactors who threaten the safety of high-ranking families and individuals. In fact, bad actors are becoming more sophisticated in planning and executing malicious intent. So much so that they typically have unlimited funding and virtually infinite time. Such vast resources necessitate a proper response by executive protection teams and their clients, which is sometimes lacking.
Note: Connoisseurs of the security sector usually say that only two items can cap protective services — the client's budget and the EPA's imagination.
Thus, there are several ways we can respond to the question: What is executive protection? For example, we can fragment it into four major EP segments, including:
- Corporate security
- Celebrity protection
- Diplomatic security
- Ultra-high-net-worth individuals
The four segments differ from each other because they have distinct clienteles. So, to get to the bottom of what is executive protection, let us examine each of the parts closely.
No matter the area they operate in, high-profile employees and executives may become victims of workplace violence. The causes or motivations for intrusions and attacks are many and various. For example, the perpetrator could be dissatisfied with their severance pay package. Alternatively, a violent labor dispute involving multiple employees may be in the works secretly.
In any case, this is where corporate security comes to the fore. Whatever the safety concerns of CEOs or board members, corporate protection precludes them by providing:
- Corporate security officers,
- Specialist security personnel,
- Video footage equipment, and
- Security drivers.
Uniquely relevant in the era of forceful employee protests and diverse social trends, corporate protection significantly improves real and perceived security.
Unlike corporate protection, this EP segment concerns itself with celebrities and very important persons (VIPs). It is one thing to provide security services to enterprise executives and another to safeguard the lives, assets, and privacy of celebrities.
For one thing, high-ranking employees in corporations attract less attention than VIPs overall. In fact, numerous celebrities make it their business to draw as much attention as possible. However, this mindset can also present multiple challenges for the EP team.
Besides, VIPs may be in a distinctive position due to their social media following. One of the reasons is that they could hastily post information about their locations or travel plans. Thereby, they thwart the protective efforts of the most proficient EP teams.
That is where celebrity protection operatives become vital for the VIP's safety by thinking ahead. For example, CPOs can present the risk associated with real-time posting, suggesting a more fluid schedule to avoid unnecessary disruption.
We cannot respond to the question of what is executive protection without noting the significance of diplomatic security. As a matter of fact, it is believed that EP has its roots in diplomatic security.
In a nutshell, this segment of executive protection focuses exclusively on government heads, dignitaries, and other public officials — both domestic and foreign. For instance, suppose the prime minister of a western European country comes on an official visit to the United States. In this case, the foreign visitors would require diplomatic security specialists to guide them as local support.
In fact, diplomatic security personnel is commonly required to undergo enhanced background checks. Moreover, hiring entities usually investigate them to establish possible criminal records. And most importantly, they speak to industry peers about their expertise and readiness for the taxing field of diplomatic security.
On a different level, some believe this EP segment carries the most responsibility, as the persons receiving protection are heads of state or other high-profile officials.
An ultra-high-net-worth individual (UHNWI) is a person with at least USD20 million in liquid financial assets. The security needs of UHNW’s are unique, requiring custom-made solutions. For this reason, we suggest compiling a qualitative and quantitative assessment based on CARVER methodology for each person or entity.
Evidently, celebrities can also be high-net-worth individuals, as is often the case. However, most HNW individuals and families prefer to stay low-profile, although they can be public personalities in rare cases.
The risks faced by the UHNWI can adversely impact an entire economic ecosystem consisting of corporations, family offices, banking institutions, brand names, and even national economies.
That is why a dedicated executive protection team ought to preferably include medically trained personnel, including paramedics with medical control. Alternatively, at least one EPA could act as a first responder if they have relevant training in first aid provision or tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) qualification.
What They All Have in Common
To conclude, we will merge the segments above to help us determine what is executive protection.
Expectedly, many items and specialties correspond between the different executive protection branches. Now obviously, we are speaking of trained individuals when we say that they must be well-versed in:
- Soft skills, including effective communication skills,
- Unarmed combative and crisis de-escalation skills,
- Advanced medical training with medical oversight, and
- Security planning.
Apart from this, all the EP segments we have mentioned include unpredictable working hours. As a matter of fact, protective agents may need to sleep in vehicles for a short period and even make do with as little as 3-4 hours during extended security assignments.
Of course, it is advisable to allow CPOs to rest if multiple agents are on-site providing services, which is typically the team leader's task. That is why we generally recommend having sufficient security team members to accommodate human factors. These could include a security driver, a close protection officer, and a team leader.
Executive protection is a constantly growing component of the security industry that uses security risk assessments and detailed action plans to protect life, privacy and assets against loss, embarrassment, and harm.
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