An increasing number of ordinary people who are worried for their safety want to learn the most effective ways to protect themselves. Many come across executive protection as the new buzzphrase. But what is executive protection? Is it here to stay as a profession — and what are its future prospects?
The best way to start answering these questions is to look at the number of private security companies worldwide. Here are some approximate data we found for 2022:
- 12,000 in the United States,
- 45,000 in the European Union,
- 2,000 in Israel,
- 5,000 in Australia,
- 15,000 in India,
- 16,000 in Latin America,
- 9,000 in South Africa, and many more.
Although these digits also include guarding firms and lower-level bodyguarding companies, many are becoming increasingly aware of the holy trinity of bespoke protective services: analyze, plan, and prepare!
What Is Executive Protection: The Core Principles
Unlike other private security companies, EP is exceedingly focused on:
- analyzing the situation on the ground to establish threats,
- planning to minimize those threats, and
- preparing for what to do if those threats materialize.
So, when we ask what is executive protection, this is the answer people should be getting. But many are also interested in where this multi-billion-dollar industry is headed and what principals can expect from it in the near future.
For this occasion, we invited some of the most prominent security leaders from Australia and Israel to talk more about where they see the industry in the near and far future and what it will bring to its clients, including:
- Businesspeople and CEOs,
- Celebrities and entertainers,
- Government officials and diplomats,
- Ultra-high-net-worth and high-net-worth individuals and families,
- Media and film crews, and so forth.
Without further ado, let’s hear it from the experts!
Troy Claydon, Panoptic Solutions
Throughout Covid, we found ourselves busy solely with a select clientele who could travel. However, as we have moved into the post-Covid or “PC era,” we have seen an increase in enquiries and service requests by new and existing clients who didn’t have the luxury to travel during that period.
Further, it has become apparent that Covid lockdowns and decreased travel impacted many EP and security companies to the point that they no longer trade. This, in turn, places a demand on those companies still operating.
Given this demand, EP providers and companies must be one step ahead in their recruitment efforts. Doing so ensures they are well placed to provide appropriately trained personnel/agents/operatives (or whichever title you wish to go by). This may mean either offering EP training or partnering with leaders already in this space.
Leaders such as PFC Safeguards in Las Vegas, whom we partner with, are just one of only a handful of companies offering top training services, as well as RONIN out of South Africa for those outside of the USA. Now is the time for practitioners to hand out CVs to companies as there is a greater demand for services.
In Good Shape
As for where I see the industry evolving over the next short to mid-term, I feel that some aspects of the security industry have a challenging time ahead of them, but that executive protection/close protection is in good shape.
More companies and family offices are aware of the benefits EP companies offer and are more aware that there are companies outside of the US or UK that offer EP services to the standard they would expect from a provider within their own country.
Practitioners will be better equipped than they have ever been before. This is because there are so many resources these days:
- Online programs and conferences such as the IPSB,
- Various boards, such as the Board of Executive Protection Professionals, and
- Numerous training academies through blogs and podcasts. In fact, even we fired off a few podcasts a few years ago (Wheels Up for those wishing to listen).
There is a plethora of educational platforms and training establishments that will ensure that the individual EP practitioner will be well placed to carry the industry forward. Technology such as reporting apps and mapping programs will continue to evolve and play a part in the industry, but nothing will ever replace the individual practitioner on the ground.
Daniel Weil, SCS – Security Crisis Solutions
Executive protection is a fascinating field that continues to change and evolve. As EP companies and managers, we need to recognize these changes and always be one step ahead of them.
Whether through advanced training or adapting to new technologies, we must constantly learn and improve our capabilities to maintain our effectiveness and marketability. In this article on what is executive protection and what it can become, I’d like to briefly mention a couple of changes that I believe will affect the industry in the near future.
EP, in its original form, is purely physical. Over the years, however, it has evolved dramatically. Today’s understanding that prevention is the primary key has forever changed the traditional approach.
Nowadays, with the prevalence of smart technology, the use of smart vehicles will become unavoidable. However, this will expose principals to new technological threats such as vehicle hacking by attackers. As EP companies, we must illustrate these new risks to our clients/vehicle vendors and search for appropriate countermeasures.
As we can see, the big players in the market have already bought out many of the smaller EP companies and added them to their growing portfolios. This will eventually create a lack of boutique companies that are capable of providing a more personalized experience for their clients. It might also cause the big companies to increase prices for the end clients and reduce the amount of profit for subcontracted companies.
Another factor is that these companies can offer higher salaries in order to attract and hire more industry leaders and professionals. This has the potential to cause a lack of workforce for smaller companies.
There is no real solution to this besides maintaining a happy team and holding on until this gap creates a demand for a more personalized service which is where the boutique companies genuinely shine.
I believe the number of covert details will continue to grow and take over a large part of traditional EP work, especially from the corporate sector. From my experience, many corporate executives don’t feel comfortable with someone physically guarding them.
They don’t want to look special in the eyes of their colleagues, and many aren’t used to having someone constantly with them. Therefore, I believe EP companies should also expand their abilities to provide covert options to their clients.
We hope this article answered your questions about what is executive protection and where it’s headed. The billions of dollars that flow into financing protective services are a clear sign of the security market’s potential in the coming years.
If you take away anything from these experts, here are a few nuggets of gold:
- Executive protection is all about planning and preventing emergencies, not merely reacting to attacks and intrusions,
- Travel risk management is an integral part of most EP programs, even before Covid disrupted world travel,
- More companies and family offices are aware of the benefits EP companies offer than ever before,
- Executive protection agents are trained, vetted, and experienced individuals with knowledge in conducting threat assessments and preventive measures,
- Practitioners in this industry must focus more on de-escalation techniques than brute force or reacting with firearms in an incident,
- Considerations pertaining to smart vehicles will sky-rocket, as will the demand for solutions to vehicle hacking by attackers,
- Prominent market players in EP are buying out smaller companies, hindering future personalized client experience,
- Covert operations will likely increase in scope in the coming years, especially in the corporate sector.
Finally, no one can conclusively answer the question of what is executive protection. The reason is that it isn’t a single thing or expertise. Instead, it’s constantly changing and absorbing the best from other industries. Doing so makes it a core service for the world’s wealthy and prominent.