Its amazing how much money executives spend on protective security services. Currently, large corporations have been known to spend up to two million dollars a year, protecting one individual and it is assumed that more is spent than what is published to the public. Protecting people seems to be a rather lucrative business.
Unfortunately, many corporations, sports clubs and celebrities waste millions on "bodyguards" that are not qualified to walk a dog, let alone protect a life. The industry is saturated with Executive Protection (EP) wanna be's, muscle-heads and outright liars. There is no "official" industry standard for measuring qualifications in EP, so how can you know who is legitimate and who is scamming you (and yes, that is exactly what many are doing)?
Veterans of military service are not always automatically qualified to provide protective services.
The military produces some pretty amazing individuals who have skill sets that easily translate over to various industries around the world. Most businesses appreciate the selfless service, dedication and loyalty most veteran exhibits and are more than willing to give them a shot.
That being said, EP is not a Military Occupational Specialty. There is an extremely small group of military members that receive specialized training to serve on what are referred to as Personal Security Detachments (PSD), and even that group is not typically trained on the intricacies of providing low profile protection to an extremely busy executive.
The differences between a PSD and EP are many and they are unforgiving when misunderstood. While most government PSD's operate with a generous protective covering from their government, EP's operating in foreign locations may only be allowed one mistake. Besides having to operate under extremely difficult government regulations and corporate policy, EP personnel may (more than likely) not be able to carry a weapon in a foreign location. If a local law is broken or they are involved in a use of force situation, they are likely going to face some type of legal prosecution or jail time. That EP's home country will be able to do nothing to help them or negotiate release. There is no diplomatic immunity, only a foreign business breaking the law.
Don't get me wrong. It is widely known that prior military make some of the best EP's, but only with the proper training either through a specialized military program or through a security training program. Ensure that you check that EP's background to see training certificates from some kind of Protective Services Training, documented on official DOD certificates or service records. If the EP does not have those certifications, you might recommend further training from one of the numerous Executive Protection schools around the world.
A bodyguard is not the same thing as an Executive Protection professional.
The term bodyguard should be reserved for bad 1990's movies featuring fake retired Secret Service Agents and bouncers assigned to watch B list actors in the VIP at the club. Executives, high net worth celebrities and sports stars should not be hiring "bodyguards". There are so many scammers in the industry today that feel they are qualified to be a protective agent because they look the part. They hit the Gym twice a day, go to their local Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) club, roll around with the Fight Clubbers and wear a suit really well. They look the part and often, because of an extremely bad precedent, clients are willing to pay them for a feeling or sense of security.
Unfortunately a sense of security is not the same as actual security. Although self defense skills and physical fitness are important qualifications for an EP to possess, the ability to use your brain and avoid a crisis situation is vital for success. A qualified EP will not only be able to react in a crisis, but understands intelligence collection and analysis so that they can avoid crisis situations in the first place. They also understand how to suppress ego and let certain things go if necessary, to protect their client. EP's should be able to talk intelligently about business operations, efficiency, marketing and negotiations. They should be able to understand their clients brand and how their actions might affect the client and their shareholders profitability. They essentially have to be Alfred for Bruce Wayne. Do you think Alfred would like to have been referred to as a "bodyguard"?
It might take you 2 or 3 or 20 tries before you find the right fit.
Can you imagine having to spend 12-16 hours a day with the senior most leader in your organization? How nerve wracking would that be? One mistake, one slip of the tongue, one negative perception and not only are you fired, your name is mud is an extremely small industry of highly qualified professionals.
Understand that you may not find the right fit immediately. Finding the right EP should be taken as seriously as finding that stellar Executive Assistant (EA). Just like working to find that EA, it might take a few tries. Often executives find they are "rubbed the wrong way" by a new EP at first, only to realize later that all of the EP's they are working with "rub them the wrong way". This typically happens to new Executives who are not particularly happy about having to hire a babysitter.
Let's face it......nobody wants an employee hanging around 24/7, scrutinizing their every move and causing them to feel like they cannot take care of themselves. Having to hire a protector is essentially admitting that your life is in danger and you cannot handle the threat on your own. That truly stinks and would make anyone a bit irritated.
Do yourself a favor. Give that EP a few tries before you fire them and move on to the next one. You might find that they grow on you and it will save you a ton of money in the long run. Also, it is common for an EP to be fired without having the chance to remedy certain behaviors (usually caused by personality conflicts, not performance issues). Talk to your EP. You will find that most are seeking to better themselves in ways that most people are not. A simple conversation can change the way you view that individual, especially if they show you that they can adapt to fit your needs.
Finding the right protector should not be taken lightly. Don't settle for a sense of security over the real thing. It's like paying for a Ferrari with a Volkswagen Beetle engine.