Operating in Asia: Why it’s Different and What you Need to Know

Even with increased economic growth at home (be it USA, Australia or the UK, Canada etc), many Western companies are reaching out to security services companies in Asia in order to support their business.  With limited experience in the region, it is useful to be aware of some of the general differences when operating within Asia.  First, “Asia” is very heterogeneous. Oftentimes, the differences from country to country in any aspect (cultural, economic, political, security, etc.) are far bigger than differences between Western countries. It is wise to be aware of this and not assume that one’s experience, research, or information on any business or security variable will be relevant in another country within Asia.  If seeking to operate in multiple countries in Asia, it is wise to choose a security partner that has broad experience in security services and risk management solutions across Asia and does know the differences between the countries in which you wish to operate. Those searching for Asia security companies must have a clear outline of the goals they wish to achieve and countries they wish to operate in.

 

Security Services Companies in Asia – Understanding the Business Culture

In Asia, business culture can often be very different from the West. All across Asia, relationships and an emotional connection between transacting parties are relatively more important.  There is a greater emphasis on trust, character, and mutual respect.  This is often why it seems that deals take a long time to complete or why there seems to be excessive emphasis on dining, drinking, golfing, karaoke, etc. before progress is made.  In the West, by contrast, this kind of behavior may seem excessive or corrupt, with rationality the primary factor in business decisions.

Decision-making procedures within countries can also be very different. While Confucian societies (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Singapore) emphasise hierarchy, they also emphasise harmony among stakeholders. For example, some describe business decision-making in Japan and Korea to be very slow because some companies require unanimity rather than a simple vote.

There are some basic patterns of cultural differences to be aware of. In East and Southeast Asia, communication is often much less direct than in the West. Western culture emphasises direct, clear communication with succinct delivery of information.  This is not always considered to be polite in East Asia.  This indirectness comes from the concept of “face”.  It is most desirable to give face and help another person save face. If you are too direct, the other person may feel they have lost face. Although one must be careful not to lose the intent or fully explain the message trying to be delivered as this will be problematic in both the short and long term. There is no hard and fast rule here, and many people do value clear and direct communication. Nonetheless, keep this in mind if, for example, people do not communicate directly with you.  This idea of “face” is also why you may often find people profusely offering compliments.  This is usually not seen as flattery, but rather as being polite and giving face.  The concept of face is culturally paramount throughout East and Southeast Asia. This can sometimes be confusing and feel counterproductive. The best way to deal with this is to acknowledge that this is occurring and ensure that your message is portrayed clearly but with a level of professional curtesy and politeness. The “EuropeanCEO” provides some good tips on business etiquette for conducting business in Asia.

Certainly, having an office in Asia has provided staff at Panoptic Solutions intimate knowledge of how to conduct business in the region. Panoptic Solutions has an office located in Jakarta Indonesia (PT Panoptic Solutions Asia). This office is a base which provides us the footprint to push security service operations throughout all of Asia as well as conduct business in the region. We speak from experience. Having that base in Asia allows Panoptic Solutions the ability to provide secure transportation, luxury vehicles, executive protection, close protection, bodyguards, bi-lingual agents and operatives, local fixers, armed and unarmed local personnel and risk advice not only within the various islands of Indonesia, but also other locations throughout Asia utilising the trusted partnerships we have formed across the region.

Security Services Companies in Asia Panoptic Solutions 2

 

A Very Brief Security Overview

China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore have relatively low crime rates and generally a high internal security presence. Taiwan, for example, has seemingly as many police stations as 7-11’s and although crime rates are low in China this is off set by the extreme level of surveillance. Furthermore, there are sensitivities surrounding journalism and media which should be factored in for organisations conducting business in this part of Asia. For High net-worth Individuals (HNWI) and persons of notoriety it is also recommended by security services companies that security planning (risk management) and some form of physical security is provided when traveling to these countries. Crime risk is generally higher in the Southeast Asia region. For executives and businesses either travelling to or operating in Southeast Asia, investing in Asia security services companies may be considered a more important investment than those in Japan or South Korea, for instance. Of course, non-violent and petty crime exists across all Asian countries as it does in the west and throughout Europe, however, additional challenges occur when dealing with extremism. For instance, Islamist insurgencies and radical Islamic groups have a greater presence in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia than that of Japan, China and Taiwan.  For example, far Southern Thailand, particularly Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, are considered a higher level of risk due to the protracted Islamist insurgency. Areas of North Sumatra in Indonesia specifically Aceh have had ongoing issues with radical Islamic groups for many years and although it’s not open season on westerners or even other locals, these issues have spilled over to other regions throughout Indonesia leading to injuries and fatalities. Sidney Jones of the New York Times writes in his article “How ISIS has changed in Indonesia” about the shift in tactics by Islamic extremists in Indonesia who are now utilising women and children as part of their attacks. This creates another level of complexity to security planning and developing risk mitigation strategies.

Security Services Companies in Asia Panoptic Solutions

Within the Philippines there are many scenic locations, however, it too is affected by problems with Islamic extremism, specifically down in Southern Mindanao. Some business would be unhindered by the activities conducted in these regions, however, many companies and industries such as hotel chains, resorts, NGOs, media organisations, resource, primary industry and tourism may be impacted and should consider consulting with one of the reputable Asia security services and executive protection companies which have experience operating in the region. Companies seeking a security partner are advised to find one with knowledge of the intricacies of these security issues as well as team members who have operated within these locations across Asia.

Panoptic Solutions’ is an Asian based security services and risk management company who have deployed teams and ran operations all throughout Asia including China, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, PNG and down into Oceania.  With strong ties to local assets throughout Asia we have provided security services support to clients meeting with Presidents, Leaders of world economic forums and organisations, Heads of not-for-profits, influential scientific leaders, heads of large corporations and multinationals, as well as those who are just vacationing in the region. For more information on how Panoptic Solutions can support your journey with security, risk management, remote medical services or secure logistics leave your details and a short message here Panoptic Solutions Contact

Stalker Security – One In Five Women Are Affected…

Stalker Security

When we think of stalkers, death threats or stalker security we tend to think of it as being a problem for high profile personalities or celebrities. Most situations involving the every day layperson rarely make the news unless the circumstances are drastic, but it is a problem much more common that most of us realise.

In this post, and this podcast, we look at the nature of stalking and stalkers and how to respond to stalking situations.

The Newsmakers

Typically, the media gravitates to the situations involving celebrities.

In recent months Australian actress Margot Robbie shared in an interview that death threats are proving to be a costly expense for her, not just emotionally but in real dollar terms through additional stalker security requirements and background checks into the suspected stalkers.

Taylor Swift and her family have been frequent targets of extremely violent threats and recently international model Bella Hadid successfully applied for a restraining order against a known stalker. We could write pages of high profile examples but this is just the tip of the iceberg and wouldn’t show the extent of the problem for ordinary citizens.

Within Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2012 did a survey and they reported that one in five women will experience stalking at some stage in their life and one in thirteen men will actually experience stalking in their life.

95% of cases where women are stalked involve men as the perpetrator while male victims have a more even split with men and women roughly accounting for 50% of the perpetrator count. Though women are over represented as victims in these statistics, they also prove that men are prone to stalking and violence resulting from this activity.

The Stalker’s Profile

Kris Mohandie a US-based psychologist and expert on the subject of stalking and stalker security says stalkers fit one of four profiles.

1.Public figure stalkers. These usually have no prior relationship to the victim and are usually behind the celebrity cases mentioned earlier.

2.Private stranger stalker. Someone who crosses paths with the victim at some stage and for whatever reason chooses them as a target.

3.Acquaintance stalker. Usually a co-worker or a classmate. They may not know the victim intimately but they are acquainted with them in some way.

4. Intimate stalker. Someone who knows the victim well through a close relationship, potentially even an ex-lover or partner. The most common and most dangerous type and often at the centre of domestic abuse cases.

Some stalkers have reasonably harmless intentions and often a victim might be unaware that they are being stalked, but even if the intention is harmless, it still represents a serious problem and a threat to the wellbeing of others.

Stalking also takes many forms. It can be loitering or observation from a distance or it can be an intrusion on a home or other property. On the more aggressive end of the spectrum it can take the form of violent threats delivered verbally, on paper, electronically or through a third party.

Six Actions To Take If You Suspect You Are Being Stalked – How To Improve Your Stalker Security Posture

1.Early intervention is key to prevent situations from escalating so if you think someone might be stalking you the first port of call is the police. Give them copies of any correspondence, photos or any other evidence you have gathered to demonstrate that there is a problem.

2. Next action is to let family and friends know so they can support you and be vigilant for threatening or harassing situations. In some cases they may even be at risk themselves so in letting them know about it you are giving them an opportunity to protect themselves as well.

3. If you haven’t done so recently, review the security in your home. Measures such as CCTV cameras, remote monitoring, alarms, security screens and deadlocks can all reduce your risk and help you feel safer.

4. Mix up your routines and take different routes to and from home and work. And where possible, travel with friends and colleagues so you are not unnecessarily exposed while alone.

5. It is also advisable to cut back on social media activity until the threat has abated. Sharing too many insights on where you are or where you plan to be can play into the hands of the stalker. Better to keep them guessing.

6. As a last resort, you may also need to consider a physical security presence, not a run-of-the-mill security guard that you might find in a shopping mall but someone suitably experienced in close personal protection (CP) and executive protection (EP). They are vastly different fields and the standard of security you will recieve from a CP/EP professional will be much higher.  Our free guide “How to Hire an Executive Protection Agent” includes a cheat sheet with 37 questions you should ask before hiring a provider. Enter your details below to access the guide.

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Expert Help Is Key

The key takeaway for readers to bear in mind is that stalking is serious and not something you should take into your own hands to resolve. Calling your beefy cousins in to help protect you is not the solution and can make things worse. Making counter threats is not the solution either. Stalkers are irrational and unpredictable and often mentally unstable so it’s best to get the experts involved as early as possible.

For more information on stalker security or to discuss threats being made against you or your loved ones, contact Panoptic Solutions or call +61 1300 651 407 and one of our expert security consultants will call you ASAP.

All of these techniques will improve your stalker security awareness and deterrence.

Who Needs a Bodyguard and How Do You Hire One? – Part 1

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the task of hiring a bodyguard or executive protection agent can be overwhelming. Knowing whether you actually need one can be a mystery, let alone knowing what to look for.

With that in mind, we recorded a couple of episodes of the Wheels Up Podcast where we covered what an executive protection agent or operative is, who might need one and how to go about selecting one. Here’s a summary of what we covered in the first episode.

At the end of this post you can also find a link to a free guide – How to Hire an Executive Protection Agent – that answers the questions in more detail. The guide also includes a cheat sheet with 37 questions you should ask before hiring a provider. We hope you find it useful and welcome your feedback.

What Exactly Is An Executive Protection Agent Or Operative?

What a layperson refers to as a ‘bodyguard’ is known by many terms within the security and risk management industry – executive protection agent/specialist/operative (EP), personal protection operative (PPO), close protection operative (CPO) or simply BG (for bodyguard).

For all intents and purposes, they mean the same thing, but in most cases, an agent or operative will have had formalised training beyond that just needed as a bodyguard. A bodyguard or CPO will generally be assigned to accompany a principal to keep physical threats at bay while an EP will take a broader view of risk management, beyond immediate physical threats.

This might include elements such as doing a risk assessment for a project or company or conducting ‘travel advances’ where a destination is reviewed in advance for risks and planning. Some companies also go further and assist clients with developing security and travel policies to utilise throughout the business.

Who Needs An Executive Protection Service?

Typically people think of high level VIPs and high net worth individuals (HNWI) with a level of fame as being those who need protection but this is often not the case.

Executive protection is tailored for individuals or teams who are not just concerned about their safety, but who also value their time highly. The ability to move about safely and swiftly can reap rewards that can save your business a loss of productivity and, in turn, increase financial outcomes.

This can include C-level executives, media or film and tv production crews, non-government (NGO) or charity organisations, mining companies with remote workers, medical evac or support teams.

Where Do I Look For An Executive Protection Operative or Company?

The best place to look for an executive protection operative is to ask for a referral from a colleague who has used one. If you don’t have access to a referred company you can search for a one via Google. Search terms to use can include, executive protection agent, executive protection companies, security company, bodyguard company, executive protection operative, bodyguard, close protection agent, close protection operative, or personal protection operative.

Is Executive Protection Only Needed When Travelling or Do You Need Protection At Home As Well?

This is assessed on a case-by-case basis. The risk an executive is exposed to will fluctuate. This level of risk will dictate the response required – e.g. if the company or individual has had recent media exposure or a specific threat has been identified, or even if a shareholder meeting is approaching, each situation will require an individual risk assessment and the response may differ. This may include the requirement for executive protection.

In What Situations Would Family Members Need Protection As Well?

Though it doesn’t happen frequently, family members, particularly children, are used as leverage against high-profile or wealthy individuals, or they may just be at risk of exposure to the paparazzi or members of the public with cameras on their phone. In some cases, they may need a 24 hour security presence, and in others they may just need monitoring.

What Would I Look For In An Executive Protection Provider?

Experience

The most critical criteria to look for in an executive protection company or risk management firm  is experience. Find out how long the provider has been in business, ask for a summary of the projects they have completed and, where possible, references of customers they have worked with.

The type of experience the operative or firm has have should also be relevant to the task you are hiring them for. For example, if you are seeking security for fly in fly out (FIFO) mining workers in Asia, an executive protection operative  with experience looking after professional tennis players touring Australia with a lack of any experience working in Asia is probably not the right fit for that particular task.

They must also have experience working in the countries you need the service provided, or at least have an affiliation with a local provider.

Training

Expect your prospective provider to have formal close personal protection or executive protection training and to be in a position to provide evidence of that. Research  the training provider to see how credible they might be and ask other providers you are considering for their views on some of the training organisations mentioned. The length of training is important. Executive Protection can not be taught in just a few days. There is a difference between qualified and competent.

Note that training as a security guard is different to close protection training so don’t accept this as evidence that a prospect might be suitable.

Licensing Requirements

Different countries and states have different laws about licensing for security and executive protection companies. If your prospective provider doesn’t have a licence for some areas you are travelling to then it’s likely they will partner with another company that does. This is common practice so don’t be disturbed if they disclose this to you.

Other Criteria

It will be worth your while to do some internet research on the provider as well. Google the name of the business and the name of the principal agent in the business. Check the News tab on the Google search listings to see if they have appeared in the news (for good or bad reasons). Check the LinkedIn profile of the principal agent to see if their authority is on display. Some security operatives  maintain a low profile so this is not an essential requirement but check to see if there are any red flags that might cause you concern.

The financial status of the security or risk management firm  may also have some bearing on the quality of service delivered. For example, if the firm requests to be paid 100% upfront, this may, in some cases, be a sign that they are under financial distress and may not be able to deliver the service to a suitable standard. It’s not uncommon or unreasonable for the security provider to request a deposit   of up to around 50%, or, if there are significant outlays for the VIP then these expenses may also be requested to be covered prior to the task, eg: a large super yacht may be required for the client – this payment may need to be made prior to the task and may need to be covered by the client rather than the security or risk management provider.

Have them explain their cancellation policy clearly to you, as well. There are obviously expenses that are incurred by the companies once they get the ball rolling, so there may be cancellation fees applicable if the project is withdrawn.

In Addition to Security Services, What Else Can We Expect of an Executive Protection Operative?

The primary role of an executive protection operative is the security/close personal protection and wellbeing of their principal. That said, “wellbeing” may also include tasks which are not always associated with “security”. As long as the safety of the principal is not compromised it’s not uncommon for executive protection operatives to conduct administrative, logistical and facilitation style tasks.

Executive protection is a service based industry and as such there are additional tasks which may be requested of the operative such as assisting with luggage, arranging tickets to events, ensuring rooms or hotels are set up to a specific standard or even organising laundry in a remote region they are in. This may mean operatives liaise with outside support elements such as personal assistants or executive assistants or it may mean they make the arrangements themselves.

Free Guide – How to Hire an Executive Protection Agent

Hiring an executive protection agent is a critical task. To help you with the process we’ve produced a comprehensive guide – How to Hire an Executive Protection Agent – which includes a cheat sheet with 37 questions you should ask before hiring a provider. You can access the free guide by signing up below.

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And of course, we welcome any questions or enquiries on the subject via email or phone on +61 1300 651 407.

Surviving Hotel Terrorist Attacks

With hotels becoming an increasingly popular target for militant attacks around the world, the issue of hotel security and appropriate travel precautions is growing in importance for business travellers and tourists.

In one catastrophic year alone (2008), militants killed at least 54 people in a suicide bomb attack on Islamabad’s Marriott hotel, 71 people in the siege of the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai, 9 in a suicide attack on Peshawar’s Pearl Continental, and 7 in the bombings of Jakarta’s Ritz Carlton and Marriott.

Most recently,2015 saw over 60 foreigners killed in hotel terror attacks in Sousse (Tunisia), Bamako (Mali) and El Arish (Egypt) to name a few; and 2016 opened with the stabbings of tourists in a hotel in Hurghada (Egypt).

Panoptic Solutions advisers have travelled the world, often to high-risk locations, and the following is a summary of their best advice on simple measures to take to enhance your personal hotel security.

Before your trip

Know the environment into which you are travelling. It doesn’t occur to most people, but within just a 45-minute flight of Singapore or Hong Kong you can be in a completely unfamiliar environment and one that poses hidden risks. Do your own research and, if necessary, seek specialist security advice on the country you are visiting in addition to the government travel advice available on the Internet. Panoptic Solutions offers advice on threat levels in each country and specific dangers to be aware of.

If you are travelling on a business trip, check that your company has surveyed and assessed the location, including your hotel, and that the assessment is up to date. If they don’t have one, ask “why?”

While major hotel chains may offer better protection from the majority of threats, they have been increasingly targeted in many locations as they hold high value targets in the terrorist play book: westerners. Be aware that, depending on location, overall security within even high-end hotels can fluctuate from hour-to-hour, day-to-day or even seasonally. Sometimes it may be preferable to ‘fly under the radar’ and stay at a smaller hotel but, again, do your homework (or have someone do it for you).

On arrival

While it’s not strictly about hotel security, airport arrivals procedure is something that creates a lot of discussion among the advisers at Panoptic Solutions, so we’ll briefly touch on it here.

Regardless of whether it is a holiday or a business trip, if you are arranging for a driver and vehicle to meet you at the airport for the trip to your office or hotel, use only a reputable firm and insist they do not have your name or company emblazoned on the sign they will hold up in the arrivals concourse. A good alternative is to ask that the sign simply have their company logo on it, along with your initials in large, bold print.

Before you hand over your luggage and possessions to your driver, politely ask to see their company ID. The same applies with a hotel driver or shuttle you may be planning to use – there are cases on record of unsuspecting travellers entering a fake hotel shuttle bus only to be robbed, often violently, then abandoned en route.

At the Hotel

Always be aware of your surroundings. Look at how far your hotel is from the office, the airport, meetings or emergency services such as hospitals or police stations. Some of this can be done via maps and Google Earth ahead of the trip. Your company should have this information to hand if they have surveyed the location you are travelling to or you may wish to have a security adviser, such as Panoptic Solutions, assist you.

Check the security measures for vehicles entering the property. Many hotels check vehicles for explosives and also screen people entering hotels.

If a hotel appears secure to the casual observer, it has more likely to have put protection measures in place and is therefore a less attractive target to criminals and terrorists alike. The boundaries of the property should be clearly defined with physical security measures to ensure only guests or patrons can access the grounds.

If possible, identify a ‘safe haven’ somewhere close to the hotel. A safe haven is another location to which you can move to seek protection, shelter and assistance. It can literally be any place you feel you can safely go to hide and seek assistance. Your safe haven may even be on the hotel grounds but away from the main building itself – such as a guard post or caretakers hut.

Check the exits, fire escapes and routes away from the area and to your safe haven. Take the time to walk alternate exits from your floor and the hotel. Rehearse more than one way out and more than one route away from the hotel to your safe haven. This can all be done easily and surreptitiously while taking a stroll around the hotel area – if local security conditions permit.

During an attack

The following section does not represent everything you can or should do in the event of an attack upon your hotel but does provide some general guidance for you to consider that should shape your actions. Much of this will apply only if you are: a. aware of what is happening or about to happen, and b. able to extricate yourself from the initial point of the terrorist assault. That said, quick and decisive reaction to a sudden attack can save your life.

First: get away. Move as fast as you can away from the point of the attack to either your safe haven or entirely out of the area. If the attackers are shooting, stay low and move in erratic zig-zags until you are sure you are clear then move as fast, and as directly, as you can out of the area.

If you become trapped inside the hotel and are unable to clear the area or make it to your safe haven, make your way to a room, any room, and lock and barricade it from the inside. Switch off any ‘’do not disturb’ lights at the door (if an accommodation room) and turn the room lights off along with any television or radio. Draw the blinds or curtains fully. Lie on the floor and remain silent. Do not respond or open your door to anyone – even if they say they are police or other security forces. Survivor testimony from Mumbai and Mali points convincingly to the success of ‘hunkering down’. Terrorists roaming hotel corridors are looking for opportunity targets and will soon move on if frustrated by a locked or immovable door.

If you have moved to your safe haven, or have locked yourself away, do not re-emerge until you are absolutely sure security forces have the situation under control – this would usually be signalled by a number of loud hailer or PA announcements. Just because the situation is suddenly quiet does not mean the attack is over. When you do emerge, do so swiftly but with your hands above your head. Keep your hands raised until such time as you have been collected by security forces and cleared.

Conclusion

An attack on a hotel or tourist destination is a complex and chaotic situation. There are no easy answers and no ‘one best way’ to surviving such an attack. However, with a little preparation, maintaining your situational awareness and keeping a cool head you can give yourself the best chance of survival.

For more information on this subject, or to discuss your needs in relation to this topic, contact Panoptic Solutions on 1300 651 407 or info@panopticsolutions.com

The Realities of Executive Protection & More. Interview with Guest Steve Albritton – Part 2

In a previous post and podcast episode we discussed executive protection recruitment and more with Steve Albritton, a respected security industry consultant based in Florida, USA. In this continuation of our discussion Steve shares how to build a security team from scratch, how to factor medical issues into a risk mitigation task, why staff sometimes need to be at more risk than the principal client, what really goes on behind the scenes of a travel task, what the options are for companies that cannot afford a full security team or to have advances done for them and more.

THE REALITY OF RISK MITIGATION FOR CORPORATE ENTITIES

As more and more businesses look to build security teams and mitigate risk, Steve says the most secure solutions are almost always out of reach for most clients so a compromise is inevitable. This is where the value of the risk consultant comes in as they are best placed to know which compromises will leave the client least exposed to risk.

“I think the biggest thing on building teams and talking to a new client is just to be honest with them and I would use one word, it’s compromise.

With most companies I think if you’re up front with them and let them know that in the security world there is no 100%. Essentially the closer you want to get to 100% of security, meaning anywhere, anytime, all the time, 24/7, means a huge amount of expense. Usually that expense exceeds what they’re willing to pay for, so when you go in with a new client, and actually existing clients, it’s a constant balance of compromise.

It’s getting them to understand that that compromise means, for this much money this is what you’re going to get, and using their profile to build the best mitigation team.”

And even in cases where cost isn’t an issue, sometimes the need for the security detail to be highly visible ‘for show’ can also compromise the risk.

MEDICAL PREPAREDNESS

One thing Albritton addresses early on when doing a risk assessment for a client is medical preparedness. Even where there isn’t likely to be an imminent risk of injury, clients often have a medical condition that may put them at risk while travelling. A typical example is an executive who might have a known heart condition or diabetes.

Executive protection teams are thus more commonly including medics in their detail, either as a dedicated role or performing other security tasks as part of the project.

“Years ago, guys knew first aid and CPR, now it’s pretty much the norm for EMT’s [Emergency Medical Technicians] and paramedics to be involved in the security piece.”

THE TOUGH CHOICES OF RISK MANAGEMENT

Albritton points out that risk consultants and team leaders with boots on the ground often have to take compromise out into the field.

“That even goes down to things like, on the security side, as a manager or even a security operative, and you’re in another country with your client, you might be the one dictating which helicopter to contract, and telling him, ‘Hey look, we advise you to fly in this helicopter. That one has 10,000 hours on it. Put the staff in that second one.’” 

Where possible though, it’s the security team that makes the compromises necessary to reduce the risk to the client(s) including ‘walking shore side when you’re in crocodile country’.

TRAVEL PLANNING FOR THE REST OF US

While an ideal security team will have personnel dedicated to specific roles, that’s not always possible and a traveler might find themselves travelling with a single close protection agent, or in the worst case scenario, they might be doing DIY executive protection and travelling alone.

“Some of these larger companies are designed to where they have intel analysts, point of interest personnel, they have multiple big teams of executive protection.

Every single one of those roles cover a specific area in the security world, but when you’re talking about the general person travelling, or let’s say one client, and I’ve travelled with clients like this before, one client, one close protection guy, and you’re it. …It’s definitely a very difficult job, because he’s got to wear multiple hats. He has to be, on Monday night before they’re travelling on Tuesday, he’s the one on the computer trying to find out, ‘Hey are there any issues for where we’re going?’

For example, are there any airport closures in certain locations? He’s essentially wearing about five different hats. You would do that, travelling individually, is you have to wear multiple hats. You don’t have all these specific roles, or you’ve got a close protection, an EMT, a security analyst, a threat analysis person doing this, a travel planner booking your flights and making sure you have your hotel rooms. Those are just five different little areas, but when you’re travelling by yourself you have to do it all.”

In these cases, preparedness is essential. Just as a full security detail does as much advance work as possible, sole travellers or those travelling with a single operator need to do the same.

An ideal compromise is to have a security or risk management consultant do a generic advance for you but, if that’s not possible, travellers should at least make themselves familiar with the Panoptic Solutions Business Travel Safety and Security Checklist available at the bottom of this post.

BEHIND THE SCENES AND STARTING OUT

For new entrants into the industry, while it is easier to get started than it used to be, Albritton says they’re usually surprised at what an executive protection role really entails. He gives the example of cleaning shirts in Africa in the middle of the night. While it’s not technically a security task, having someone on the security team take care of it can often be the lowest risk option, even if other support staff are on hand.

“I would say in my experience, the clients don’t want to know. They want the end product. They don’t want to know how the clothes are washed, they just want clean laundry.”

He explains that maturity and humility are key attributes for any new entrant and makes it clear to those he is mentoring that the quickest way to move up to high level executive protection is to be willing to do whatever needs to be done.

“When recruiting new people, in the end, I look for maturity and humility. If you can find someone that is really mature and they’re very humble, then to me the rest I can get them through the system after that. I don’t mean that you hire people that don’t have the experience, I’m just saying, that then they’re on a fast track, because if they’re exuding humility then you can point to them and say, ‘Go do this, and if you do this, you’re going to move along.’”

Ahead of maturity and humility though, Albritton says problem-solving is essential in the field.

“That’s the number one trait, if they can problem-solve without driving you absolutely nuts, or calling you in the middle of the night with simple things that the average close protection guy should be able to solve, then that’s the key, problem-solving. Getting from point A to point G on their own and being able to solve it.”

CONTACT

For clients looking for risk assessments or hoping to build a team of operatives, or for aspiring operatives, Steve can be reached via OPStructure.com or via email at steve@opstructure.com.

And for those at the DIY end of the protection scale, we invite you again to download the checklist/infographic in printable pdf by entering your details below.

 

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Risk Assessment vs. Risk Mitigation: What’s the Difference, How Will it Affect my Travel Plans?

TRAVEL RISK ASSESSMENT & MITIGATION

Despite the unprecedented speed and ease with which we can travel from point A to point B, there is a perception, by some, of growing travel risk.  While there are risks, it is wrong to assume that one is simply at the mercy of the unknown and there is little to be done about it.  Risk management can go a long way.  Tapping a travel risk professional to help you do this can be a wise decision.

Conceptually, the two main aspects of this process are risk assessment and risk mitigation. Risk assessment is about identifying the hazards and risks of a given situation, such as transporting a VIP from one location to another.  Risk mitigation is about taking steps to prevent undesired outcomes, once they have been identified via assessment.

Risk Assessment

For risk assessment, we need to understand relative importance of a number of uncertainties that are unique to the situation. Geography is one place to start. Am I traveling in country with a high-risk of kidnapping, violent crimes, terrorism, or political instability? So how does one determine a high-risk of terrorism or kidnapping, for instance?  Looking at the history or track record is a critical step but is not enough. It is also important to consider the dynamics and assess the likelihood of change, without giving oneself the illusion of knowing what is inherently unknown. The worst disasters (be it the 2008 financial crisis or 9-11 terror attacks) are almost by definition unprecedented which is why history and track record are incomplete for the purposes of risk assessment.  Looking at a large number of relevant variables can help fill these holes. For instance, a city may have no history of terrorism, but a change in the political situation or society might imply that this is a risk.

Risk Mitigation

The quality of risk mitigation can only be as good as the quality of the risk assessment done beforehand and is inherently linked to it.  For instance, if you perfectly safeguard against low risks but ignore the bigger hazards because you failed to uncover them in an assessment, the risk management has failed.  Risk mitigation itself might involve taking a different form of transportation deemed lower risk given the circumstances.  It could involve inspecting a premise before a VIP enters.  Quite simply, doing the rightresearch and looking at the right variables will mean safer travels.

Looking to Travel?

Talk to Panoptic Solutions before you travel about a comprehensive risk assessment of your journey and the support we can offer to mitigate any risk.

Enter your details below to access the free Business Travel Safety and Security Check List as a printable pdf.

And for the pre-travel post, click here.

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Business Travel & Safety Check List

The Cost of Protecting the Boss

With executive compensation practices and policies a salient topic since the 2008 global financial crisis, the cost of security for executives has come closer to the spotlight.  Though the term “executive protection” conjures up images of extravagance for most, the Fortune 100 sees it as a necessity.  In 2014, Salesforce spent almost 1.5 million USD to protect Mark Benioff.[1] However, even for the Fortune 100, the size of this expenditure is an outlier and dwarfs those of other high-profile CEOs. Specifically, the cost of executive protection consists of travel-related security, as well as home security.

So why do these companies, whose practices are scrutinised by boards, shareholders, and regulators, do this?  Though large differences exist from case to case, many companies purchase executive protection because the time saved and the risks mitigated are almost always deemed a very sound investment.  Even companies outside the Fortune 1000 are ready to make such expenditures, provided they have the liquidity for it. While a large, cash-flooded company like Facebook would shell out millions on executive protection without batting an eye, smaller companies may also reap benefits from the time saved and risks mitigated, even if they buy services in smaller quantities or on a case-by-case basis.

If a security detail can save an executive hours over the course of a trip, this effectively translates into money saved, as productivity otherwise wasted to travel logistics is spent where it benefits the company. For medium-sized corporations, the investment calculation depends more on the given affairs of the executive around the time of the trip.  Of course, if the CEO’s schedule happens to be relaxed around the time of the trip, the expenditure may be harder to justify.  Some CEOs have permanent, full-time security details, which are unnecessary for most companies.

Frequent travelers are familiar with situations of a delayed or cancelled flight, being forced to spend the night near the airport and leave the next day.  For an executive in this situation, nearly an extra day away from the office (on top of the standard time spent for normal travel) can be disastrous.  Apart from a nightmare scenario, executive protection services like those offered by Panoptic Solutions save the time of waiting in airports, security lines, and waiting for second-rate drivers not to mention the medical and security expertise included.

Security Business Essentials For Startups

Whether you’re a sole trader, a start up company in Australia, a DBA (A Doing Business As) or start up company in the USA, we all need to navigate our way through the business minefield, irrespective if you’re setting up a security business or another service. This can be a daunting task, especially as a large majority of Security and Risk Management Firms or Companies are established by security operatives/agents/personnel/staff, who have had little to no business experience in the past. It’s one thing to have the technical know-how and the ability to provide an excellent security service or product, its an entirely different matter establishing and running a successful security business. Certainly this is true in my case and that or our colleagues at Op Structure in the USA.

So rather than hoard all the secrets and have you all make the same mistakes, Steve Albritton of Op Structure and myself (Troy Claydon) from Panoptic Solutions decided to share our experiences in the Wheels Up Podcast about how to establish a security business and firm, discuss the set up options you might have, outline some of the mistakes we have made and we provide several tips to help you succeed. Not everyone’s journey is the same, and not everyone will make the same mistakes, but if this article and podcast can provide you with at least one tip or one pitfall to avoid then it’s been worth reading/listening to.

1. Security Business Plan

Before you do anything draft a business plan. Decide the type of security business and services you wish to provide ie: mobile patrols, risk consulting, guarding, corporate, close personal protection, cash in transit – the list goes on. Work out what you want to provide because it’s not always a case of one size fits all. Is it feasible, is there a need? What makes you different? Draft a SWOT analysis – What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. What capital do you need? What are the ongoing costs. All these need to be included in your business plan. There are many free templates and guides on the web, this Start Up Guide is an older one produced by John Petty of the University of Technology in Sydney, but still very relevant and very easy to follow.

2. Setting Up Your Business

Sole trader (DBA) vs Incorporated Company (Pty Ltd/LLC) – Talk with an accountant or commercial lawyer/attorney and decide which option is best for you. Your business plan/model will guide your decision here.

3. Budget, Forecast & Cash Flow

It’s important to talk with a qualified and trusted financial professional in business. Realistically you will include a budget in your initial business plan, but it doesn’t stop there. You will forever be doing this. Build a budget and try to stick to it. As you start trading you will get a better idea on how to forecast. Be aware that as a business you will have to front of with money on most occasions. Don’t be that guy or company that feeds the line – “I haven’t been paid by our client so you have to wait till I do”. It’s your responsibility to pay your team. You can always have arrangements in place with certain suppliers and providers, which will help with cash flow, but don’t make your team members wait unless you have a prearranged agreement in place. You may have to wait a considerable amount of time before your client pays you, so make sure you can float your operations.

4. Licences and Insurances

Investigate what you need. Each country is slightly different and often each state within those countries differ. Don’t skimp on insurance.

5. Office with a view

It’s great to build your empire, but be realistic about whether you need that corner office on Wall street. So many businesses these days are mobile. Yes it’s great to have an office to meet clients and have a secure HQ to operate out of, but the reality is, you can save money and be just as productive working from home until you get to the point where you are big enough to have an office. This said, obtain a PO Box or engage the services of a Virtual office. Dont post your home address, both for professional appearances and most importantly for security reasons.

6. Mentor

Find one, or two or three. A mentor does not need to be there to hold your hand. They can simply be someone who has been in the industry for some time who you can look to for advice or support. Which leads to the next point…

7. Networking

Networking is massive. But be aware there is a difference between networking and being a leech. Networking means introducing yourself to other industry professionals and helping out where you can. It often means sacrificing without want. It’s about building your reputation and your brand. There’s no easy way of doing this and it will take time. Attend networking meetings in your local area, meet other professionals for coffee when it’s suits them, work in with their schedule, attend functions or seminars, join professionally recognised organisations such as ASIS International,  Protective Security Council,  IPSA UK , ASIAL , ATAPSPAAL or the International Protective Security Board . Be prepared to give a lot to networking.

8. Run Your Own Race

Its human nature to compare and worry about what we’re missing out on, but, by concentrating on the other person, the other security business or the competition you stop focusing on your own product. It’s always good to know what other companies are doing, but don’t compare against them. You will always find a shortfall irrespective of how well you are doing. Concentrate on what you are doing and do it to the best of your ability. This will build your reputation and brand.

9. Marketing

Where do I start…there are so many platforms now to get your message out there, which basically means that there are multiple platforms for marketers to take your money. Website, Social Media, Print Media, Direct Marketing, SEO, PPC, Newsletters, Postcards, Gifts, Skywriting, Buses, Taxis, Radio, TV, and on and on and on it goes…Everyone’s an expert and everyone will tell you their way is the only way and the best way… Save your money. Start small, allocate a budget and stick to it. Yes you do need marketing, you MUST have marketing, but it doesn’t need to cost the earth. Lean on contacts you have – can the design your logo? Do they know how to steer social media? If so ask. Utilise sites like fiverUpworks or freelancer to find a freelance designer, marketer, video producer, SEO or content writer etc etc who may be within your budget. A word of warning though – the search can sometimes be a long one and you really need to read reviews before commiting. The worst they can say is no. Also, marking isn’t just online, can you attend seminars? Are you confident speaking about a particular subject? If so ask to be a speaker at an upcoming event. Join LinkedIn, follow industry professionals and contribute to the landscape, be a participant not just an observer – be creative. Marketing can be an expensive black hole so ease into it and don’t over commit.

10. Rewards Programs

Join them…Join them all. That said try to pick one airline and fly them as much as you can. It’s not always viable which is why you should join as many as you can. Points accumulate faster than you would have thought. Car rentals, airlines, credit cards etc. Obviously take into account the financial consideration that goes into earning these points.

11. Business Ethics 101…

Last, but by no means least, be ethical in the way you conduct yourself. Sure be competative, but, do so on quality. There’s always going to be someone who can do things cheaper, but that doesnt mean better…in fact it usually means the opposite. Treat people the way you want to be treated, from client to the the driver, the static guard and yes even your competitor.  You dont have to like everyone, but you can be respectful. Don’t build your business on lies. Remember, reputation is everything.

 

——–

Remember in all of this, your business is scalable. Be enthusiastic, be a go getter, be proactive, but don’t go too hard too fast. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: about 20% of businesses fail in their first year, and about 50% of small businesses fail in their fifth year.  Further, according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Looking at the survival of businesses (micro to large) over a four year period, of the 2.1 million firms in business in June 2011, only 1.3 million or 62 per cent were still in business in 2015. Take your time, build your reputation and your brand. Word of mouth is key. Clients will come. Business is a marathon, not a sprint!

 

If you are after any guidance or would like some advice about establishing a security business in the USA you can reach Steve Albritton of OpStructure in the USA via Steves LinkedIn account, or …

 

If you would like any advice or have any questions about setting up a security business in Australia or even Indonesia for that matter, you can contact me, Troy Claydon via my LinkedIn account.

 

We won’t give you everything on a silver platter and we won’t do all the work for you, but we are happy to guide you as you navigate your way through hurdles or connect you with the right people.

 

Learn more about security services in Australia, Indonesia, and the Indo-Pacific region via Panoptic Solutions website

Learn more about security and risk management services out of the US and beyond via OpStructure website.

Dont forget to go to your Podcast Platform and vote. If you like the show give us 5 stars and leave a comment. We love the feedback!

 

Executive Protection Personnel – Panoptic Solutions | Russ Price

EXECUTIVE PROTECTION PERSONNEL

Executive Protection is all about people. The right people, in the right place, at the right time doing the right job for our clients. Panoptic Solutions prides itself on employing, contracting and engaging the right people. We are fortunate to have a team consisting of former military, law enforcement, emergency services and corporate security professionals. Our Executive Protection Operatives and Agents come from diverse backgrounds and bring with it diverse skills and experiences.

Former stunt actor, Russell Price is no different. As well as being one of Panoptic Solutions go to Australian Bodyguards and Team Leaders, Russ has worked alongside some of the greatest martial arts actors in the world, like Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Aside from his work as a stunt actor, he has an impressive resume with 10 years in the British Royal Marines, 40 years in the martial arts space and 23 years working within the security industry internationally. Not to mention, he has a 6-dan Black Belt in Shotokan Karate and was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2015.

Russ recently sat down with Troy on the Wheels Up podcast to discuss how his previous experiences have shaped his work in the security industry while giving you some practical tips to look out for when travelling.

Executive Protection Personnel  – Highlights talking to Russ Price

1. How martial arts can help shape a career in security.
2. Acting with Jet Li in one of the coolest fight scenes you’ll see in a movie.
3. Working with Jackie Chan.
4. Why prominent people like Jean-Claude Van Damme need executive protection personnel and close protection services.
5. How to stay alert when travelling.
6. Working with the U.S Secret Services and the European Dignitary Protection Unit.
7. ​Challenges faced when emigrating from the U.K to Australia in the security world.
8. Camp Black – the reboot for brain and body retreat.
9. Ebook – The Seven Golden Secrets.

Dont forget to go to our previous article and podcast on Business Travellers Essential Pre-Departure Travel & Security Checklist – where you can download a FREE Travellers checklist and be kept up todate with relevant travel and security information.

Acting with Military Precision

Ex serviceman Troy Claydon tells Jonathan Jackson about the correlation between Airforce disciplines and how his business Panoptic Solutions is meeting the security needs of vulnerable businesses and individuals.

The harsh, military environment has been a breeding ground for many entrepreneurs. As Bill Murphy Jnr says in an article for Inc. Magazine, “veterans bring amazing advantages to the entrepreneurial game – things like discipline, perspective, leadership ability, and the learned skill of seeing problems as opportunities – to say nothing of having accomplished ambitious goals with the weight of a gigantic bureaucracy on their backs.”

Troy Claydon is no exception and has built an exceptional business on the back of his military training. Claydon spent 14 years with the Royal Australian Airforce as an Airfield Defence Guard (RAAF Security and Ground Forces).

“During my military service I completed the Australian Army’s Military Police Close Personal Protection Course (Military Body Guard training) and deployed Operationally to Dili, East Timor with our unit,” Claydon says.

This experience provided near-perfect grounding for a tilt at business. However, if there is one more lesson the military teaches it is to be thorough in preparation.

Claydon had been thinking about starting his own business during his time in the Airforce, but before he made any attempt he would make sure that he had all his ducks in a row.

This meant a further four years as a Private Security Operator working in Iraq, providing personal protection and ultimately operational oversight to construction project managers, journalists, DOD personnel and communications project personnel. He then spent a further six years as an on-road Paramedic with the Queensland Ambulance Service. This combined with his training in South Africa at the internationally renowned RONIN gave him the skillset he required to start his own business.

“RONIN was my first real exposure to realistic and relevant medical training for working within a hostile environment. This training ended up being an invaluable skill, which I took back to Iraq. From that point on, I was much more confident in situations requiring medical treatments.”

Panoptic was founded in 2012 after Claydon identified a shortfall in the security services for professional companies.

“After completing RONIN and working in the Middle East I saw a great advantage to having two capabilities integrate together,” Claydon says. “I wanted Panoptic to be more than just a security company, but rather a business that could also offer health solutions.”

The word Panoptic means all encompassing. It was a well-thought out name for a business that traverses the world and offers a complete form of protection that includes physical safety, health and security.

In its short existence it has become trusted by some of the most influential organizations and individuals in the world to prepare contingency plans for potentially high-risk situations.

“In the early days I was still working on the road as a Paramedic, attempting to build a business and deliver professional services to our clients,” Claydon says. “Initially I was augmenting security teams by myself, however, as the combination of security and medical support was recognized as an advantage I was able to bring on more personnel. I was also taking small jobs providing medical support to events. I started with a single 4×4 vehicle that I outfitted with advanced medical equipment including a defibrillator, ECG Monitor, oxygen and trauma stores. Our event medical capability has now grown to provide support on a national basis with multiple vehicles and contractors. The personal protection, travel health, safety and security capability has also grown to include a core group of managers with contractors both domestically and internationally. I knew that the product we had was a great one and it was all about getting in front of the key decision makers to inform them of what we are able to offer.”

That combination of security and medical support is what makes Panoptic unique.

“When clients contract the services of a bodyguard or a protection detail there is an automatic assumption that the bodyguard will ward off any harm, this is not always the case. There is always a chance that some harm may come to the principle no matter how much planning or protection is in place. This may not be the cause of an attack, it may be from a motor accident i.e. Princess Diana, it may be from a simple fall at a public event, (think Madonna’s recent fall off stage) or it may be while conducting physical exercise and exerting oneself i.e. chest pain. Having a bodyguard or close protection operator who has three black belts or is an expert marksman is all well and good, however, this won’t help when there is a critical medical incident. Furthermore the care we provide extends not only to the principle, but also their family members including children. We have had need to treat family members with Asthma and one who was having an allergic reaction. First aid training only goes so far and when working overseas or in remote regions advanced health care is not always available within a suitable timeframe. Having a highly trained Executive Protection Paramedic provides real time instant medical response while ensuring safety and security. At the end of the day, we provide a holistic approach to safety and security and peace of mind for clients.”

The business grew through a combination of word of mouth and a small amount of marketing. So much so that Panoptic has been employed to look after families and businesses in relation to events as large as the London Olympics.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to work with a multinational team made up of US and UK security professionals for a HNW family over multiple locations across England. Panoptic Solutions was not the lead contractor on this, but rather augmented the team with both security and medical support. I believe that it was the security team who was required to adapt more than the actual family. We had to become familiar with routes, venues and train the drivers who were allocated to us. The entire team worked in unison and provided a seamless delivery to the principle.”

Working in foreign environments isn’t easy. Each region has its own complexities, including cultural and language barriers, as well as legal differences. The Panoptic team researches each environment it goes into to ensure that their preparation is watertight.

This attention to detail has attracted clients including Fortune 500 companies, top executives and High Net Worth Individuals, who feel they are in reliable hands. This is testimony to the way Claydon has built the business and a reflection of his own thorough approach to life and business.

Claydon now has his sights set on South East Asia expansion as well as being the go-to security service for high net worth individuals and corporate organizations.

“I am interested in steady and sustainable growth where we can provide full time employment for a large team of professionals over multiple locations,” Claydon says.

Meanwhile Claydon wants to expand Panoptic to the point where he can draw back and have his management team run the daily operations, with Troy providing the strategic leadership.

No doubt, this will be done with military precision.