We got together with Martin Franks, Executive Director of Salama Fikira’s Asia-Pacific chapter to discuss corporate security services, recruitment, one taxing operation, and some exciting industry advice.
Your company, Salama Fikira, operates in three areas, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Europe. How difficult is it to manage all those resources to create a universal level of service? Can you dissect the vital differences in risk landscapes of the three continents regarding corporate security services?
Operationally, each region varies from a cultural and legal perspective. We have regional offices utilizing personnel who are local, national, and embedded expatriates. This allows us to keep abreast of legislative requirements, changes, and up-to-date intelligence.
The prevalent risk environment and the client itinerary need to be understood, then meshed together so that an applied strategy and operational SOP can be produced.
As an international organization (we have recently expanded into the Americas and Australia), our internal processes are ISO 9001-15 compliant, ensuring that our standards remain consistent throughout all regions.
Many organizations are failing, and new ones are constantly emerging. What is your word of advice to EP agents and companies looking to provide corporate security services in Asia-Pacific? What are the first steps in this regard?
Modern security provision is being driven from a corporate and insurance standpoint. As such, an independent operator or new company should expect to produce proof as a ‘legal entity’ in the country that they provide services.
One may expect such an entity to mitigate the client’s risk within the acceptable parameters of ‘As Low as Reasonably Practicable (or ALARP).’ Not incorporating this step sets both the client and provider up for reputational failure.
No two markets are the same, and neither are two clients. What does a holistic range of security services entail precisely, and how do you create bespoke solutions?
Regardless of the industry, a holistic range of services must entail everything that a company can offer to its clients. This should be presented in a clear and comprehensive format, and verbally explained or clarified with the client.
‘Bespoke’ is a word that companies often use to present unique services to a client or specific situation. In terms of providing protective services, the mechanics for conducting all the necessary elements from preliminary preparations and reconnaissance through communications and response are in line with tried and tested methods. If it works, keep doing it. Highly trained and experienced people run the operations and deliver them.
The ‘bespoke’ part is reflected in how we design the correct security profile and coordinate the most effective scope of work for the client concerning their individual requirements and situation. There is no One Size Fits All solution.
When considering the other services the SF Group provides in Asia, our preliminary processes are stringent regardless of the scope of work. We conduct enterprise risk management, accurate J2 (threat) analysis, and detailed coordination with the client regarding the anticipated operational scope.
Your company Salama Fikira has seen immense growth in a short period. What does your recruiting process encompass, and how do you choose the best of the best to work with you?
We are always on the lookout for the right people to join our Asia Pacific team and globally. Whether here in Hong Kong, our offices in Singapore or Sydney, or to work remotely in any of the several Asian countries in which we maintain a presence. Of course, we try to identify the best people through working with them initially.
However, we also advertise positions and interview fresh candidates from the commercial sector. We firmly believe that a fresh perspective from ‘outside of the industry’ will often sharpen our approach and improve back-office processes, but the frontline does demand a level of operational experience as often the turnaround from interview to in the field is very short.
Different ground operations carry various risks and challenges, to say the least. Without mentioning the details, can you give an example of an operation related to corporate security services in Asia-Pacific that was taxing to manage, and how did your team react?
This question can actually relate to several given assignments in any region, albeit the fundamentals obviously change according to the incumbent level of risk in that particular location. In terms of EP, our teams certainly need to think on their feet, remain flexible and maintain discreet professional standards even in lower-risk environments.
Relating to corporate security services, the SF Group delivered an EP assignment in southern Thailand recently. This country has a generally low to medium level of risk nationally, yet an ‘unspoken’ propensity to be significantly elevated in several southern provinces.
Hence, coupled with a corporate executive client who was demonstrably uncomfortable with the presence of security, this provided a significant challenge to the team in terms of oversight.
The team reacted pragmatically and responsibly. With guidance from our in-country manager, they maintained the necessary oversight without being intrusive.
We applied additional reconnaissance, increased team communications, and the regularity of reporting lines to the operational control element. The resulting profile provided full accountability without making the client feel pressured by their presence.
Can you mention other services your company is offering and what you feel is your strongest suit operationally speaking?
SF Group offers a suite of services alongside its Executive Protection capability. This includes maritime security, risk consulting services, manned guarding, and event security services. Additionally, we also work in journey risk management planning, and provision of secure transportation (using security trained local drivers)
We are a registered training provider under HABC. Therefore, upskilling regional resources to defined international standards consolidates consistent operational standards throughout the company.