This article was originally published here
Bodyguards for hire, also known as executive protection or close protection agents, have been around ever since people started accumulating wealth and fame. If you are looking to hire your first bodyguard, if you need extra protection on a trip, or if you are looking to expand a team that you already have in place these 11 expert points will help you navigate making your next security decision. Allowing you to find the right person and make the right choice when it comes to safety.
Location makes a big difference when hiring a bodyguard. You must have an understanding of the threat and risk profile you are planning to go. The economic stability of the country is also an important factor.
The Olympic Games in Rio this year are a perfect example of why location should be on the top of the list when considering a bodyguard for hire. Brazil’s economic meltdown in June of 2016 slashed police budgets by 30%, the games took place in August with approximately 500,000 visitors arriving to see the games. For someone who is as well-known as Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, a trip to Rio would warrant bodyguards for hire.
The physical, organizational structures and facilities of the city or area are an essential element. If you feel safe moving throughout the location, and more importantly, the place you are choosing to stay you might not have to look into personal bodyguard services. On the other hand, if the roads are in poor condition, if there is a lack of high-quality places to stay, and if it is a first-time visit, you might be better served with extra protection by your side.
Infrastructure will also have a huge effect on the type of person as well as the number of bodyguards that you should hire. In Hong Kong or Singapore, you might feel comfortable with just one agent. In the South of Thailand or the South of Philippines, you might consider upping your security team to account for the cities landscape and current risk status.
3. Local Knowledge
Weigh up the benefits of using locally based bodyguards over expat or outside agents. Here is a quick chart for comparison:
|Local knowledge and experience|
|Local language skills|
|Potential limited communications or misunderstandings with Principal & Group|
|Possibly limited worldly experience and capabilities|
|Locally acceptable service levels may differ from Principal’s level|
|Potential for collusion|
|May or may not have local knowledge and experience|
|Unlikely to have local language skills|
|Fully understands Principal’s service level expectations and requirements|
|Stands out from locals but may blend in with traveling group|
|May receive greater degree of respect and cooperation from hotels/businesses just by being an expat|
|Unlikely to be connected with local operators looking to collude|
4. Bodyguards for Hire – Experience Counts
Make sure to carry out your due diligence. They should provide you with a biography or CV; the responsibility lies with them to illustrate why they should be hired.
Former military experience is not necessarily a 100% go ahead. You should look for previous experience with an executive protection type position. For example, members of the Royal Military Police (RMP) out of Britain sometimes have duties similar to a corporate bodyguard. Also look for additional executive protection training after military or policing duties. Corporate bodyguard individuals should not only be entirely military minded but should have tact and cultural intelligence as well.
High-risk operations in Afghanistan or Iraq does not automatically qualify someone to operate executive protection successfully in civilian, low threat environments.
A good comparison to make is the Special Forces. The skills a person acquires during their training, the strategies, the combat abilities and the risk that they deal with on a daily basis is incredible. Those are entirely different skills than are needed to accompany parents and their children while shopping in downtown Singapore. On the contrary, local knowledge becomes highly relevant; local language skills would be useful, and a non-threatening demeanor would allow for a better level of protection for the family. Of course, a proper security survey should be done before going to an area, but you cannot beat a great inside agent who knows the area.
One of the challenges is that there is usually no easy way to verify the actual background of an executive protection agent or bodyguard. That is because it is not a highly regulated industry, there is no FDA or global governing body the individuals that are working in industry. Which leads to the next most important thing to do.
5. Hire Through a Reputable Company
Make sure it is a long-standing firm; it is always good to check if an International Standards Organization accredits it. A TRACEcertification or ISO certification is an easy way to check; this certification demonstrates that a company has a strong commitment to anti-bribery compliance and transparent business practice. ASIS International is another such organization that is committed to advancing security standards worldwide.
In the end, make sure any company you plan to trust has gone through a thorough certification process of some kind. Even in 2016, most people come to find their bodyguard for hire through referrals. This might give you an idea of just how challenging it might be to find a trustworthy agent.
6. Can they get you vetted transport?
How will you get around? If transportation is required, you might as well save yourself the trouble and let the security company provide it as part of the package. The company should already have good relationships with transport providers and have recommended, trained and experienced drivers.
The drivers and vehicles should be fully vetted and have local knowledge of the area. Meaning that all vehicles should be suitable for the location – not stick out or draw unwanted attention and also be well prepared for the terrain and number of passengers traveling.
Transportation is not something that is automatically provided, but in general, we would recommend going to a company that can provide comprehensive services so that accountability is easy to measure.
7. Bodyguards for Hire – do they have a backup plan?
If you have one person and things do get dangerous you should know that they have plan B, plan C. Any company you hire should have a suitable footprint and network to be able to rapidly escalate the manpower and services sufficiently to maintain the security of the Principal in case of emergency or a dramatic change in circumstances.
For these emergency and backup situations, it is also important to find out the terms and conditions, payment schedule, as well as any other fees involved. You want to make sure that every eventuality is accounted for.
8. Weapons (Armed vs. Unarmed)
Another critical element on the list. Many times, people ask for “armed” simply because it sounds like the right choice. However, there are several questions that security professionals need to ask before choosing one or the other:
• Are they required?
• Does the threat level merit it?
• Are they more hindrance than benefit?
• Are weapons legal in the location?
• Are the security agents suitably qualified, experienced and permitted to carry weapons?
• What type of weapons – non-lethal batons, sprays, knives, long barrel firearms or side arms?
• Does the principal have a preference?
If you are operating in the US, for example. Even if an officer is fully licensed and permitted, he/she would have to pass through screening when going into different locations. Sometimes they are fully checked, which also gives a chance for other individuals to survey your team and find out who the security agent is.
On the other hand, if you are walking with the Principal and someone sees your weapon by chance, you will pull in undue attention and reveal your Principal as a person of interest and might get unwanted press.
It also escalates the situation. If you are armed and in control that is all well and good, but if somehow you lose your weapon and even worse take your weapon, then you are suddenly dealing with an armed adversary. For this reason, we often recommend unarmed officers for the majority of our clients unless we see a strong necessity.
One of the first things we always ask clients is if there has been a direct threat to the Principal or group traveling. In some cases, your company might have a policy in place that requires protection for all top-level executives; others might allow for the decision to be made based on the destination country.
While people often think of Politicians, CEOs and celebrities targets of attention such as lottery winners, valuables handlers, people suddenly finding themselves in the limelight also deal with a certain amount of threat.
When searching for an executive protection agent or bodyguard make sure to be honest and open about the perceived danger. Your honest assessment will allow a security professional to make the right recommendations to ensure your safety in light of the threats involved.
10. Be Clear about your Preferences
If you prefer high-profile, big guys in dark suits and sunglasses to surround the Principal at all times make that understood from the beginning. Of course, the most often requested is for low profile agents in smart suits that blend in with the person or group they are protecting.
It is typically recommended and safer in most cases for security teams to stay in the hotel or residence with the client. Which also means that you should make it a point to consider if you would like to have a female or male agent. By knowing your preferences before asking for services you will better allow the security company that you are trusting to fulfill your needs and make the experience better for all parties involved.
At the end of the day, bodyguards are there to do a job and to protect you. They are not there to be your tour guide, and they are not there for small talk. Most clients appreciate this approach as the executive protection agent stays focused and out of the way throughout the day. Speaking is on a case by case basis, but for the most part, if you are there to do business then the executive protection agent should limit their interaction with you. Aside from giving you a brief at the beginning and end of the day they will be observant and focused throughout operational hours.
11. Bodyguards for Hire – Budget is Everything
Budget is an all-important issue. Budgets can end up overriding any security recommendation, threat assessment or preference. Be honest and have a clear understanding of all project cost considerations to be given before any operations. This ties back into support mechanisms – if there is a drastic plan change due to an emergency and immediate action is required. How will the cost be approved and paid for? Without knowing the budgeting in the best case and worst case scenarios you will be caught off guard when extenuating circumstances arise.
Bodyguards for Hire – Final Considerations
These 11 elements will assist you in your next search for professional bodyguard services. While budget might be limiting in certain ways, worst case scenarios without professional protection should not be overlooked. There has been a number of incidents from violent acts, to celebrity robberies in recent years that are good examples of why one should always be proactive about safety.