In a remote sit-down with security specialist Matthew Porcelli, we dive deep into executive protection standards, the disputes between solo practitioners and security companies, as well as how to approach certification in the security business.
Recent news shows that the EP industry can finally rest assured that we will soon have standards for providing executive protection. What do you believe will be the positive outcomes of this initiative established by the Board of Executive Protection Professionals (BEPP)? Are there any downsides to it (i.e., how will it impact EP in Europe and Asia, and will it create discrepancies between countries and continents)?
Standards are indeed the foundation of any sector. Therefore, executive protection standards are essential, and BEPP has taken strides with other security subject matter organizations because of the diversity and intricacy the EP sector encompasses.
However, we must take care that when a standard reaches its final stages, it meets global criteria. For instance, just as each executive protection detail has its own uniqueness as far as tactics and protocols, different countries and entities ― both private and public ― adhere to certain compliance that might not be the same across borders or continents.
Constant and recurrent maintenance in executive protection standards must be evident and with as much diversity of knowledge as possible.
Industry leaders frequently highlight the importance of relevant EP certification as a must-have for obtaining a job in executive protection. How will the introduction of standards for providing executive protection reflect on EP certification? Generally speaking, will solo practitioners benefit more or less from this than security companies as a whole?
Once the industry passes and approves the standards, many organizations will adopt it as The Standard. In executive protection, it is incumbent more on the protector and the skill set that he/she/they have.
Solo practitioners and consultants will benefit more from executive protection standards. The reason is that security companies that provide a wide array of services (i.e., risk assessments, security officers) see EP as an ad hoc piece of business and not the primary focus of the company’s mission statement.
Solo practitioners and consultants benefit from having a dedicated group of talented executive protection agents with past and real-world experience. Furthermore, most solo practitioners might only hire someone with previous law enforcement, military, or abundant private security experience to fit the criteria of an executive protection agent.
This, however, is not to say that some private security companies do not retain a wealth of executive protection knowledge in their ranks. Instead, think of it as comparing a general practitioner to a cardiologist. The general practitioner (security company) has a wide range of service options to mitigate all different types of threats. On the other hand, the cardiologist (solo practitioner) specializes in a specific discipline.
A contentious issue in the EP industry ― solo practitioners versus security companies ― has been gaining traction. What do you make of it, and should future and current EP agents look for opportunities in both areas or settle in a single one? Can you describe the most significant benefits of working in both while simultaneously upholding standards in executive protection?
The strength of an entity depends on the effort put into it by its employees. It is all incumbent on the individual and the passion they hold for the position. Executive protection is not just a “paycheck” position. It is a discipline that the practitioner or employee must seek to keep up-to-date on standards, training and possess an unquenchable thirst for continuing education.
There is no right place to be. It is what you make of it.
Just because a private security provider employs someone does not mean that their executive protection acumen needs to be sought. There is always something to learn!
Solo practitioners will gain a wealth of knowledge as specialists dedicated to protecting the principal(s) as part of their directives. However, as executive protection details are rare in private security (security officers), the setting does not mean that security officers cannot observe and identify VIPs (i.e., principals) of the building or company under protection.
Everyone needs a foundation, which is where executive protection standards and certifications come in. Suppose that the foundation is in place. It is then up to the security professional to decide what direction to take. But also how much effort they need to invest to reach their goals.
Many established EP companies and seasoned EP individuals have experienced overwhelm due to the sudden rise in the number of aspiring EP agents and rookies, especially on LinkedIn. How do you go about that? When new, inexperienced agents approach you, what do you tell them about entering the industry? Which are tried and true methods to build a successful career?
Contemporary times have indeed seen a rise of those aspiring or proclaiming to be executive protection agents, especially on LinkedIn. However, the best way to ensure you are hiring suitable candidates is by researching the applicant. And, above all, finding out and confirming the type of EP details the candidate has worked with. LinkedIn is a great resource to network and learn. But, there is a lot of fluff that some people put into their profiles and resumes.
However, we mustn’t discourage inexperienced agents or treat them with arrogance if they approach us.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and there are many practitioners with a wealth of knowledge to share and guidance offered to point new or transitioning agents in the right direction. As someone devoted to helping young and transitioning security professionals find their path in the industry, I stress that they always have something powerful to contribute, no matter their background.
The best method is to have a mentor. But if one is not available, learn as much as you can about the industry and try again. Most importantly, do what you can to get experience! If no one offers it to you, seek it out!
Where do you see the industry with its executive protection standards in the next 20 years? Do you care to make any predictions on how unified or unintegrated it will look like and what we should be striving for as an industry?
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected executive protection and all other facets of security.
Safety standards and security standards, especially in the private sector, are interlinked now more than ever.
Executive protection will be leaps away from what it is in 2021 compared to what it will become in 2041. There will indeed be unification in teamwork thanks to the virtual platform that the world has been forced into as of early 2020.
This will be extremely beneficial when coordinating with advance teams and the principal’s home entity during international details. As time passes and new threats emerge, many industry providers will strive for two primary objectives: Protecting the principal(s) and how they can make themselves or their organization better than the competition.