As London sets its sights on a brighter Horizon in 2021, the post COVID-19 landscape promises the return of corporate, diplomatic and UHNWI visitors keen to resume business (or recreation) as usual.
The close protection (aka executive protection, personal protection, bodyguard) industry is poised for a resurgence, and there is no shortage of providers out there looking for business.
At KSS we understand that very often the sourcing of private security is a task given to executive assistants, family / private offices, or estate mangers. There is therefore significant pressure to get it right, and frankly it can be a minefield.
As with the procurement of any service, whether for yourself or on behalf of a client, it’s crucial to conduct due diligence.
Here is a check list to help you through the process –
- Online presence / social media
Do they have a corporate, professional looking website that clearly outlines their services, with a physical office address (not a PO Box or prestigious virtual office address that does not exist), landline number, and company registration number with company’s house?
Check LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and similar. Search for the company or any senior management within the company. How do they present themselves online? Is there a consistent company message of professionalism, or do they post pictures of themselves with celebrities, or at exotic locations, or on private jets? If so, avoid.
Instead look for companies and management within those companies who post industry relevant content, have informed opinions, author articles and blogs, and seem to have a positive contribution to make.
- References, reviews, and legitimacy.
It is unusual for clients to leave google or online reviews for close protection teams, but not unheard of. Check for online feedback, looking particularly closely for anything negative.
Ask for any available case studies or client references. Again, don’t take the inability to provide these as an absolute red flag, as many clients in this sector rightly wish to remain anonymous.
When you first approach a potential provider, look for those with offices in or around London who are willing to meet you in person. (COVID restrictions allowing) If they claim to be a significant contributor to the London close protection sector but are based in another part of the country, ask why?
At KSS we believe the services we provide are highly personal, and building strong relationships from first contact is critical to the long-term success of that relationship.
Ask your potential provider about the backgrounds of those running the company, and the backgrounds of the personnel they supply. It is not crucial that all personnel are former military or police, however it is generally the case that those with more in-depth training and experience tend to originate from police or military service.
Any company that claims to use operatives with a solely ex-military, solely former police, or solely civilian background, is a cause for concern. Blending is important, and all of the above-mentioned origins have their merits.
Ensure that all of the personnel your provider is supplying in a close protection capacity have a Security Industry Authority close protection license, and ask your provider for a copy of their insurance policies. Industry best practice dictates they should have public liability, professional indemnity, and employer’s liability cover for the services you are asking of them.
Ask for a short profile bio of any candidates the provider wishes to put forward. Some companies send close protection operative’s or teams to a client with assurances of their ability, but the client has not had an opportunity to understand more about that operative’s background or experience. Ensure the candidate is a good fit on paper and at interview, before trialling them in front of a principal.
Rates can vary significantly between private security companies, some charge daily, some hourly, some monthly. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is certainly true here, however there are also those who will try to needlessly overcharge.
Do not be surprised at the associated costs. It is normal for operatives to have travel, accommodation, and food included on top of their rates.
As with the procurement of all services, it is wise to shortlist 3 companies you feel are suitable, and requests quotes to compare.
Protection teams are by their very definition often privy to sensitive, confidential information and it is imperative that the provider you use not only has sufficiently robust non-disclosure agreement’s in place with their staff, but that you are able to hold them accountable should their personnel breach those agreements. Ensure you and / or our client are protected contractually.
- Company infrastructure / reach
Whilst it is entirely true that some smaller, boutique providers operate at a high level and should not be overlooked, it is also relevant that if you need additional services and support you should establish the providers capabilities before entering into an agreement.
For example –
Do they have the appropriate licensing and insurance in place to operate overseas, or at least reputable, tested b2b partners to approach for support in other parts of the world if you or your client wish to travel at short notice?
Do they have access to graded, credible intelligence? KSS have invested in an in-house global security operation centre complete with intelligence analysts, using datamining AI technology to provide our teams and clients with threat-based intelligence alerts 24/7.
Can they source vehicles, and provide other concierge style services, if needed?
Do they have the ability to offer cyber security or reputational management support?
Naturally these elements are not always necessary, but if they are, its far easier to have one company in a position to assist than having to source each component again from scratch.
Do be careful to verify and grade these claims however. It is common for companies to claim the ability to deliver more than they can in order to secure new business.
Close protection and the private security industry as a whole is an incredible sector populated with talented individuals and many excellent companies.
There will naturally be some chancers amongst the legitimate, but using this guide and most importantly, following your instincts, will help you to find the perfect fit.
If you wish to discuss our services, or would just like some no obligation advice, please contact our business development manager to discover more.