Those of us who have been in the security industry for a while know there’s a disconnect between how we approach residential security compared to other types of executive protection and corporate security.
When we look at residential assignments, two worrying trends emerge: teams often include a noticeable amount of junior agents, and available career paths or training possibilities are more restricted. It’s almost as if residential teams are treated like “b-teams”–and that’s a serious problem.
Look, we get it. Travel EP has its perks and appeal. You’re flying around (sometimes in fancy jets), seeing the world (and perhaps staying at nice hotels), and the tasks you engage in can be quite varied. Doing advances in two different cities may require different skills and challenges, which can be exciting.
First, don’t believe the hype: it’s not all glitz and glamor. Ask agents who have been away from their loved ones for months on end, or who don’t feel like they have a stable “home” and move from hotel room to hotel room how they feel about it all. Second, the need for good security can be just as great at home as elsewhere.
The principal’s vulnerability might be greater at home than at the office or on the road
Corporate campuses, hotels and many other places our principals frequent have various layers of security that ideally make it harder for hostile actors to carry out whatever they have in mind. Perimeters, shells, cells; security rings; biometric access control; tons of guards and employees moving about; controlled access; mail screening, emergency procedures; and so much more. Some of these locations are almost fortress-like by design.
At home, however, things often look different. Sure, high net worth clients may have relatively secure residences–but unless they want to live in a bunker (very few do, understandably) homes tend to be less secure than other locations.
Residences can be vulnerable because of the amount and types of traffic that typically flow through them. Home environments can buzz with the comings and goings of house staff, crafts people, guests, family members, and (at times unexpected) deliveries. Sometimes it can be difficult to discern who’s a threat, or who’s at risk. And let’s be honest: in such settings, you can’t ask everyone to regularly go through biometric checks while wearing some annoying badge. Protection professional’s can not constantly badger clients and their families. A home should be safe and secure, but it should still feel like a home. That requires a tremendous level of care and expertise.
What is more, homes are personal. Not just because a client’s private belongings belong there, but because their loved ones live there. All dicey situations are serious, but let’s not pretend there’s no difference between you being in a jam at your job, and your partner or children being threatened at home.
Time and place predictability
And then there’s the matter of time and place predictability. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out where most people live, or that they spend a lot of time there. Some celebrities’ homes are literally marked on tour maps. Even careful CEOs can’t keep their primary or secondary addresses a secret.
Let’s not forget that COVID changed the game too: so many people now work from home that, in some ways, the boundaries between homes and offices have blurred. Food and other deliveries are way up, too.
Residential agents need a career, too
So what do we do? How do we solve this? First, as obvious as it may sound, we need to take residential security as seriously as other types of security. We know the vulnerabilities and risks involved are real. And we have the solutions–all that’s needed is to adapt and apply them.
For one thing, if we want to attract and retain the best people, we need to offer residential teams competitive work conditions and salaries. For another, if there are fewer training opportunities and paths forward in the industry for those agents, then we need to create better training and career planning possibilities.
After all, residential agents are differently yet as equally skilled as other agents. For example, someone who’s been part of a residential team for a while may have developped incredible social (or so-called “soft”) skills: they engage with people day-in, day-out, and learn to thoughtfully navigate personal boundaries while ensuring everyone’s safe. It’s the kind of skillset our industry can always use more of.
When we treat residential teams like “b-teams”, we create an industry that doesn’t foster and harness the very talents we seek in agents. We create different “classes” of agents, some of whom will leave, and some of whom won’t get the careers they deserve. But maybe more importantly, relegating residential security to the background means we don’t do right by our clients and the people they care about. None of that is acceptable, so let’s up our game.