Why Hire an Executive Protection Agent or Operative: The Top Reasons

There is an abundance of cases of unprofessional behaviour by security in Australia and other western countries. For example, we often read news articles of security staff assaulting protesters around their principals in an attempt to protect them. Without going into the debate about the terminology of bodyguard vs EPA vs CPO, would an executive protection agent or operative be more fit to handle such situations?

One thing is for sure. Some security staff tend to exaggerate in the countless cases of attacks on journalists, protesters, and political opponents. But is that truly necessary? Do they need to apply physical force to protect or seemingly protect their principals, i.e., the persons receiving protection services? The answer to this question is two-fold.

For one, physical strength may be an option in a quickly escalating attack that may leave no room for verbal de-escalation. Secondly, an executive protection agent employs communication skills to read gestures and talk down potential attackers. Apart from that, they gather protective intelligence and conduct risk assessments prior to public events.

Therefore, in this article, we shall dissect why hiring an EP agent or operative is the right choice for high-net-worth families, enterprises, and corporate security directors.

Responding to and Understanding Fear

Security experts have repeatedly argued that protective agents need to stand up to their fears to become good at what they do. Simply put, they must understand it and control their reactions to act appropriately in threatening and dangerous situations. In fact, famous author Dale June argues that “fear is an overpowering emotion appearing as an adrenaline rush that freezes the brain and paralyses the body.”

The phenomenon has recently become known as the F3 or the fight-flight-freeze response, which is the body’s built-in automatic system that protects us from danger or threat. To implement security assignments seamlessly, EPAs must train themselves to resist slipping into the third component of F3. Namely, freezing while a malefactor approaches to harm their principal is the worst possible outcome.

To overcome the moment of adrenalin overload, the security professional must remain calm and concentrated in moments when something has to be done. Even while experiencing a modicum of fear, the EPA should behave in a manner to not express it to the outside world. Moreover, projecting confidence and resolution in their posture towards potential attackers often proves essential.

Finally, the EPA may need to be trained to recognise tell-tale body language and emotional sweating in the opposing party.

executive protection agent

Strategic Protection

In the security domain, nothing must be left to chance. The protective detail should plan for any emergencies in advance and be three steps ahead of potential intruders, be they star-crazed fans in crowds or disgruntled former employees desperate to enter the corporate building.

One strategic approach that has proven invaluable time and again is often called the concentric circles of protection. It is a procedure that serves to:

  • Establish escape routes and operational continuity, and
  • Exercise the craft of target hardening.

Security operatives implement this approach with the intent to dissuade, deter, and delay an assault on the principal. The ultimate goal is to intimidate the aggressor until they abort their action or postpone it while help is underway. The security staff can achieve this in a few ways.

Firstly, by erecting fences and other physical obstacles. Secondly, by assigning security staff around the relevant residential buildings or company headquarters. And thirdly, by placing video surveillance and accompanying warning signs.

The approach of concentric circles of protection serves to arrange multiple rings around the principal. Because the more circles, the higher the probability of succeeding to protect the client.

But what role does technology play in this regard?

Technology has enabled people to protect their families, property, and persons. They may sleep and eat, conduct day-to-day tasks and still have a sense of safety and security with CCTV cameras observing all movements in their environment 24/7.

Another way that protection circles can be beneficial in the technological sense is that one circle comprises physical security equipment (like x-ray machines) and security operation centres. By doing so, target hardening reaches its full potential.

Additional Qualities of an Executive Protection Agent

The American humorist and political commentator Will Rogers once said, “Being a hero is about the shortest-lived profession on Earth.”

To a certain degree, that is correct, as heroes often rely on their sheer willpower and physical strength to react in threatening situations, with no pre-planning required.

Conversely, the job of an executive protection agent entails:

  • Gathering protective intelligence,
  • Conducting risk assessments, and
  • Performing due diligence, among many other things.

It is evident that EPAs stand up for what is right ― namely, protecting their clients and principals. However, most of them view it simply as yet another day at work. They do not demand any special recognition or pat on the back for another dangerless and risk-free workday.

Contrary to popular belief, EPAs do not engage in unnecessary brawls of their principals in the nightclub or at a concert. Their responsibility is solely to keep the principal safe and sound and not adjudicate in random scuffles or fights.

In Conclusion

The reasons for hiring an executive protection agent abound. From pre-planning trips to conducting risk assessments, the EPA tries to predict a wide range of possible outcomes. They are also well-versed in the art of deterring and delaying potential attacks.

Apart from the hard skills ― such as handling firearms and knowing the basics of martial arts ― the executive protection agent should also be familiar with de-escalation techniques.

In addition, skilful EPAs realise they are not operating in a space wholly detached from their principal’s life. Thus, customer service must be one of the crucial skills under their belt. For instance, suppose an EPA is conversing with the principal’s children or board members. In that case, they should know how to adapt their conversational style to fit the particular context.

Companies like Panoptic Solutions support individuals and organisations in enhancing productivity and peace of mind by offering unmatched executive protection and bodyguard services.

Why HNWIs and Business Executives Need Security Drivers

Many executive protection experts argue that security is always a compromise. In fact, they claim that it is impossible to perfectly guard the principal while simultaneously allowing them any freedom of movement. However, EP operatives can still do plenty to help ensure custom-made protection is at hand. On that note, some protection professionals regard security drivers as the first and last line of defence against malefactors.

But what do the duties of security drivers entail? Generally speaking, they are in charge of:

  • Driving the principal’s vehicle,
  • Route planning (in conjunction with the security team leader),
  • Arranging the seating positions in the car,
  • Ensuring the layout of the interior is as per the principal’s expectations and that of the security team leader,
  • Fixing malfunctions, repairing other vehicle-related issues, and
  • Helping make sure that their clients – HNWIs, business executives and other high-ranking principals – enjoy maximum productivity while en route, and
  • Balancing security with comfort.

Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as an excessive number of protective staff. Yet, security drivers rarely fall into that category.

For instance, they frequently brainstorm an all-encompassing range of vehicle-related contingencies. Therein, they gain a better insight into how to prepare for the possibility of various incidents. And incidents do happen. They may include a punctured or flat tire, a car computer or electronic failure, a mechanical breakdown or limited movement options.

Quick tip: Security experts describe an incident as anything which is untoward or has even a slight probability of impacting a task or mission. By definition, incidents can catch close protection operatives by surprise, but that is what contingency planning is for ― to be capable of responding in any event.

One Person, Multiple Roles

Occasionally, the EP operative   may double up and take on the duties of a security driver. We rarely recommend this, as it reduces  the protective efforts.

When doubling up, the protection operative would be tasked with simultaneously driving the vehicle and then opening and closing the door for the principal. In addition, they would need to escort the client outside while leaving the car unattended ― and even take care of parking. In other words, too many tasks for a single individual.

The principal or their staff may request the designated security driver to participate in selecting a vehicle that is both comfortable and secure. This  is obviously an important responsibility.

Thus, in this article, we will explore more why security drivers present an invaluable asset for the safety of the principal and their immediate environment.

How to Manage Vehicle Security

One of the best solutions to help ensure the security of the principal vehicle is to introduce strict security precautions. Expectedly, some of them include equipping the car with alarm systems that emit sounds at the command post or a protection operative’s phone, aside from the local audible alarm. This will provide early warning for vehicles approaching or departing the residence or known locations.

Similarly, we suggest locking the car doors and setting the alarms even if the CP team parks the vehicle in a locked garage on a secured and gated estate.

During the night, wherever possible, the principal vehicle should be placed under video surveillance in a well-lighted area. Apart from posing a solid deterrent to malicious actors, operating in such a manner will also ensure peace of mind among the protective staff and the principal, their entourage and family.

As for public places, ideally wherever possible, the driver will remain with the vehicle. However, where this has not occurred, it is the responsibility of security drivers not to start the engine or operate the vehicle. That is, until they visually inspect the situation around and under the car, check for planted devices or signs of tampering, and examine:

  • Wheel wells,
  • Gas/petrol intake, and
  • Exhaust pipe.

As proficient security drivers are well aware, the hood-locking device should only be accessible from inside the vehicle. In addition, we advise using cars with a locking cap cover that can only be operated from within the vehicle.

As expected, the driver must be in sync with all vehicle-related technologies and mechanics. Ultimately, they should accompany the vehicle to a reliable and known dealership or service station during service and maintenance. By doing so, they limit the potential for tampering that could produce harmful outcomes later on.

security drivers

In Transit with the Principal

During public events and while en route, security drivers must ensure that windows are rolled up and doors locked. This best practice helps prevent ill-intentioned individuals from throwing items into the car or harming anyone inside. In the event that windows seals need to be broken for any reason, winding them down by 2-4cms should provide enough space to communicate with those outside of the vehicle.

Route selection will be conducted prior to departing venues. This includes primary and secondary routes. In collaboration with the security team leader, the driver will implement changes from primary to secondary routes where the security threat or conditions dictate. By implementing this system, the EP team imposes a deterrent and increases the probability of safe and secure transport from point A to point B.

In many cases, the security driver and team leader may choose the most direct and well-travelled route. In others, the motorcade or vehicle may come across stranded motorists requesting assistance, or a roadblock that happens to be erected on the same route.

Each incident is unique and the situation will lend itself to experience and guidance by the security driver or team leader. However, in these instances, we recommend not stepping outside of the vehicle, as this poses an elevated risk to the principal. In this case, contingency plans or “Action On” protocols should step in.

Quick tip: Although using public roads is vital, sometimes the need may arise to select an alternative route. In this sense, the CP team must set in motion a pre-prepared plan to execute the mission of safely transporting the principal and their entourage.

Residence Selection and Security Drivers

Famous author Peter Consterdine goes to great lengths to discuss dilemmas pertaining to suitable accommodation for the principal and their entourage as they relate to travelling. He emphasises some of the main reasons for choosing between urban, suburban, and rural areas.

Urban accommodation usually:

  • Lacks privacy,
  • Implies congested traffic,
  • Provides ample cover for malicious surveillance, but
  • Presents a benefit in terms of adequate police and emergency services response and good communications.

Suburban accommodation typically:

  • Resembles that of urban areas but with enhanced privacy,
  • Provides fewer opportunities for opposition surveillance, and
  • Ensures slower but satisfactory police reaction time.

Rural accommodation normally:

  • Presents a challenge due to isolation but promises significantly more privacy than with urban and suburban areas,
  • Limits the choice of escape routes,
  • Makes communications more complicated, and
  • Prevents emergency services from arriving timely.

Security drivers should consider all these points when discussing accommodation options with the principal, their assistants, or other staff members.

In Conclusion

It goes without saying that the security driver must have the relevant certification and driver’s licence in place. Moreover, they need to possess adequate defensive driving skills and be well-versed in all things car technology and mechanics.

For these reasons, we urge against hiring a chauffeur while in transit with the principal. The reason is that a regular driver typically has no relevant knowledge of planning travels and alternative routes, evasive driving, and other items that proficient security drivers deal with in their daily work.

Finally, high-net-worth individuals and business executives need proficient driving operators on their security details to:

  • Facilitate vehicle security and selection,
  • Establish standard protocols for all passengers to follow,
  • Ensure that the vehicles are always safe, even when left unattended,
  • Fix car system malfunctions, handle all mechanical issues, and
  • Be aware of emergency services nearby and know how to reach them quickly.

With experienced security drivers on our teams, Panoptic Solutions supports individuals and organisations in enhancing productivity and peace of mind by offering unmatched services.

Benefits of Female Executive Protection Agents 

Female executive protection is a topic that seems to spark significant conversation in the security field. Most discussions remain positive. However, we can still observe some questionable comments and ways of thinking within certain areas of the industry. It would be easy enough to blame this on a mainly masculine culture that continues to dominate the industry. Yet, it may be more than just that.  

Dive deeper and you will find that it’s not only some industry professionals who may hold questionable perceptions about females in executive protection, but also clients.  

As a result, only a tiny fraction of women nowadays decide to go down the career path of EP, although their numbers are growing. Still, those that do, report an advantageous experience that benefits their lives as a whole and notably their principals ― i.e., the persons on the receiving end of protective services.  

But before we explore this too much, let us discuss the term female executive protection agent or female executive protection operative. The title is outdated and should be removed from the protection industry 

You are either an executive protection agent/operative/officer, or you are not. Furthermore, no one is using the term male executive protection agent. Thus, there is no reason why the industry should not be more inclusive. 

Women as Mentors

Pollsters usually attribute the statistical shortage of women in the security sector to their disinterest and lack of incentives by protection companies and clients who mostly require masculine features. However, this trend needs to change at the company level, while the said companies should educate clients. 

It has been the experience of Panoptic Solutions management and CPP operatives that some of the best teams working for some of the world’s top 1% have been led and managed by very strong, capable, influential, and skillful women, whom we would have no hesitation following anywhere.  

In fact, in each case, we consider these women mentors in the field of executive protection and look to them for advice. Moreover, these women are at senior levels of executive protection, while others are in senior security positions with well-known tech firms where all are judged on merit.   

female executive protection 1

Babysitters and Assistants, or More?

In some cases, security-seeking individuals and families often overlook how female executive protection agents can also provide secure driving, protective intelligence, paramedic, and nanny services ― hence the term nannyguards. However, we can say the same for their male counterparts.   

Rightly or wrongly, some people may perceive female bodyguards as babysitters, partners, or assistants. Therefore, they tend to remain unnoticed.  

Besides, no one is restricting their responsibilities solely to crowd control or similar assignments typically requiring a physically tall posture.  

Quick fact: Within several peer-reviewed studies, researchers have found that women are better communicators than men. This may help executive protection agents respond more skillfully in verbal confrontations with potential attackers.  

De-escalation usually plays a significant role in the field of security. Especially during heated arguments with star-crazed fans or individuals wanting to desperately take a photo with their favourite artist.  

For all these reasons, it may be advisable to select a mixture of both men and women when hiring an EP team in charge of taking care of:  

  • High-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families,  
  • VIPs spending time in remote areas of Australia, New Zealand or Asia,   
  • Female clients and their children,  
  • A wide array of companies in need of corporate security and risk management services.  

Arguments for Hiring Female Agents  

Women are not as noticeable in the security industry as men are. Still, their presence has steadily increased over the past ten years. And there is ample reason to suggest that they are a significant asset to executive protection teams and their principals.   

For one, women are known for carrying so-called go-bags wherever they move or travel. It is less noticeable when a female carries a bag as opposed to a male. Additionally, it is easier to disguise EP-related items in bags when females take them around instead of male agents. Most importantly, go-bags of female executive protection agents/operatives may ordinarily hold some of the following articles:  

  • First aid items, including tourniquets, emergency bandages, or airway devices,  
  • Note pads and pens,  
  • Pocket knives or multitools,  
  • GPS equipment, and  
  • Headphones, lip gloss, or sunglasses.  

The things that female EPAs usually carry in their purses can make all the difference, especially security-wise.  

Blending and Fitting In

A blended approach to executive protection provides an increased level of security to principals. The ability for a male and female executive protection agent to appear like they are a “couple” provides an element of surprise to any potential assailant when the EP team reacts. The ability to blend into an environment is particularly relevant when providing covert protective surveillance or low-profile protection.  

As a matter of fact, some clients may want to remain inconspicuous and having corporally prominent security operatives often works against such likings. But, apart from that, the ability to create a sense of normalcy and routine is among the essential requirements that clients look for in EP agents.  

More notably, male security operatives have certain restrictions that females do not. For example, when safeguarding a female client, the agent can enter places where it may be less appropriate for a male to access, including locations such as:  

  • Hotel suites,   
  • Dressing rooms,  
  • Female-specific clothing shops, and  
  • Bathrooms and other such venues.  

The main benefit to all of this is that the client’s daily life does not undergo disruptions. In addition, female EP agents inspire less suspicion and raise fewer eyebrows ― all efficacious advantages in the security business.  

While working in a male-dominated profession, female executive protection agents are increasingly in high demand because they:  

  • Change a protective team’s dynamics by fostering a less aggressive and more assertive culture 
  • Overcome cultural and religious preferences because some parts of the world have strict rules for different genders spending time together, and  
  • Attract less attention.  

female executive protection 2

Getting Physical

But what about physicality? A common argument put up by many males in the industry. Many consider outdated the view that EP agents or protection operatives must be 6ft tall, stacked, and ripped. Yes, EP operatives and agents need to be physically fit and capable of maneuvering the principal in the event of a physical attack – no questions.  

However, this doesn’t preclude women. There are plenty of males out there in the security industry that would be lucky to lift their own weight, let alone someone else’s. Further, countless principals out there indulge in the finer things in life and are carrying extra weight.  

Even the most athletic males would struggle to carry these principles on their own and, as such, will need the assistance of a second person. This would come out in the planning whereby the consideration for a mixed team or second agent may be necessary. 

The reality is if an agent meets the standard (physical, skills, and training), be it male or female, there really is no reason why someone would not consider them for a role. 

In Conclusion

The protection industry is slowly moving in the right direction by being more inclusive. However, many things need to follow in the foreseeable future to gain the ground that men take up currently. 

Before that happens, some studies show that women outnumber men on:  

  • Prioritising fairness or purity of intention, and   
  • Compassion when it comes to making ethical decisions.  

All these skills have time and again proven invaluable. Especially while de-escalating situations and reducing the level of tension in interpersonal relations.  

Given that most jobs and teams are client-driven, educating clients and principals about the advantages of mixed teams is an excellent place to start. Panoptic Solutions advocates for women in executive protection, proudly boasting that several industry mentors are female.   

With female executive protection agents as part of our paramedic and protective teams, Panoptic Solutions supports individuals and organisations in enhancing productivity and peace of mind by offering unmatched services.