It happens many times. The protective assignment flows seamlessly until the principal decides to make a slight detour and requests the EP team to rearrange schedules. Perhaps they forgot something at the office or wish to revise their daily timetable. In any case, the principal will have little consideration for the EP team’s protracted efforts invested in planning the current route — nor are they required. So, how should protective agents respond in this instance while not putting liaising with clients at risk?
Point in fact: Working with principals and protectees can be a delicate matter. Even more so in the executive protection industry, where one must consider multiple aspects, including:
- Physical disabilities,
- Health issues,
- Children of the principal, and
- Personality traits of the persons receiving protection.
One must factor in all these elements to make the client feel good about the protective service they receive. Most of the time, the client’s opinion of the security detail will likely determine whether the contract will be extended.
However, this does not mean imagining improbable threats and creating action plans that respond to something that is highly unlikely to happen. Instead, the risk should be factual, tangible, or likely to occur. In fact, protective agents prepare for emergencies by gathering reliable information and acting accordingly.
Therefore, it is critical to strike a balance between:
- Presenting everything as a threat to the client, and
- Behaving as if barely anything posed a real risk.
Thus, this article will explore how liaising with clients is more nuanced than one would assume on the surface.
Building Transparency and Trust
One of the most challenging tasks of any security team is to convince the principal how they contribute to their safety and success. Moreover, the level of rapport or distance from the protection detail makes sense in some circumstances more than others.
For example, many corporate clients do not prefer security personnel mingling in their immediate vicinity. Additionally, principals from the entertainment industry may want to have their security detail nearby as that signals prominence.
However, it is crucial here to distinguish between the principal and the client. Although people often use these terms interchangeably, they typically mean different roles.
Explainer: The principal is the person receiving protective services on the ground. Conversely, the client is the entity that contracts services and pays the bill to the executive protection company. Expectedly, this may mean that the same person who requires protection — i.e. the head of a company or a high-net-worth individual — could simultaneously be the client and the principal.
In any case, it is vital to make an excellent first impression by showcasing soft and hard skills. Doing so also implies understanding the client’s psychology. In other words:
- What do they expect from the protective agents in a public setting and private function?
- How often do they want the security team to approach them and share information?
All this should inform the act of liaising with clients.
Similarly, the EP team must be proactive in all aspects of their everyday work. For example, it is a known fact that attackers often pick up ideas from other attacks. That is why it is essential to build transparency and trust by tracking trends and where relevant informing them about recent incidents which may also impact them.
Contract Adherence and Liaising With Clients
In diplomatic, corporate, and HNW circles, it has become increasingly crucial for the security team to affirm its worth and value. That is done primarily by adhering to contract stipulations.
In fact, there are hundreds upon hundreds of executive protection companies that profess to offer high-end services. That is why we recommend that those looking for protection first check company websites and talk to their previous clientele.
Doing so allows the potential client to verify the level of contract adherence and the ability to be flexible within operations. However, these two points do not necessarily constitute opposites. In fact, proficient EP teams make adjustments on the spot while adhering to the contract and protecting the principal in real-time. Because, as we are well aware, the threat landscape is much more than any contractual document could contain.
Thus, here are a few useful criteria for establishing whether to enter into contractual obligations with a security company:
Are they a member of relevant associations domestically? In the case of Australia, this could mean being part of the Security Providers Association of Australia, the Australian Security Industry Association, or the Australian Tactical Medical Association for medical capabilities.
Internationally, consideration may be given to a company that is a member of ASIS International, members of the Private Security Council or various other reputable industry associations. All this indicates a high level of expertise and longstanding work.
What do their former clients say about them? Most experienced security firms publish some of their clients’ testimonials on their websites and social media.
Who are their team members? For instance, do they also include first responders such as paramedics? It has become a requirement to have medical staff during most outdoor events in order to prevent health issues resulting in severe outcomes.
This article helped explore how liaising with clients constitutes a multifaceted endeavour. It is far more than merely being polite and addressing the principal’s concerns — although these are also helpful.
For those looking to hire adept executive protection teams, we recommend considering whether they simultaneously offer services such as:
- Transport and logistics,
- Risk management, and
- Remote medicine.
A security company with well-rounded capabilities implies that the client does not need to look for particular services elsewhere. In other words, they can get everything they need from one security provider in one place.
Finally, let us make an overview of the main points we discussed, with some straightforward recommendations:
- Protective agents must be well-versed in working with principals with various physical, mental, or health conditions.
- Security team members should strike a careful balance between reporting every detail to the principal and reporting none.
- Both sides — i.e. the client and security company — must establish clear expectations at the outset. For instance, how should the EPAs behave at private and public functions? Should they keep at a distance or not?
- Clients, principals, or their personal assistants, ought to thoroughly research the security company before hiring in order to establish their years of combined experience and services.
Companies like Panoptic Solutions support individuals and organisations in enhancing productivity and peace of mind by offering unmatched executive protection services.