With over a decade of firsthand experience with overseeing the hiring and implementation of Executive Protection agents, the task can be overwhelming even for a seasoned veteran like me. I will explain to you the process, which can be beneficial to your organization in selecting and hiring a proper EP agent and/or team, to fit your security needs. Always keep in mind, the process of interviewing, vetting and training the new prospective agent will take some time. It is very important that you and your staff should take this task on as an important addition to the support of your client’s needs.
The Myth of the Bodyguard
Over the years when I hear people around me use the word “bodyguard”, I not only cringe but know what some associate that word with an the image that comes to mind. They see someone who is built like a cinder-block wall, intimidating looking, wearing a shoulder holster with the largest handgun ever manufactured. Besides the outward appearance, other misconceptions are drawn up: guns, knives and more guns; bulking bodies with several martial arts qualifications and a resume that reads like a stuntman from a major action movie. The fitness and physical abilities are great and if they can do everything we just discussed, they must be more of a warrior than the perspective new hire who lacks the background of a Special Forces solder. With that said, what are you as a client looking for when seeking an Executive Protection agent to provide a security service for you and your family?
We first need to establish a baseline of what type of risks or threats your client may be exposed to. The range of threats can be vast, but some of the threats that may be faced by high-net-worth clients are as follows:
- Petty Crime
- Workplace Violence
- Embarrassing Situations
- Illness or Medical Emergencies
Fully understanding the risk and threats that your client may be exposed to, will assist you in assembling the right prospective EP agents for your upcoming project. The contracting of a Security Consultant / Risk Management company is recommended to provide a detailed risk assessment. After reviewing the completed assessment, you can move forward on the type of security you need to implement for your client. This assessment may also bring to light that a smaller security posture may be implemented or other security options can be researched. This will save you time and money before committing yourself to a full-time protection agent and or team.
After the assessment is completed and reviewed, you and your staff decide that security will be required for the client or the estate. The next step would be if your organization has a Human Resources department or you are a stand alone Project Manager, to start contacting vetted vendors, security companies, security consultants and risk management companies to begin the process of looking at hiring an EP agent. The Security Consultant who provided the Risk Assessment will have contacts and resources for you on getting the right EP agent for your project.
For the Client
With the approval of the Risk Assessment and a decision is made that an Executive Protection agent or Security Team will be required, the client may or may not be the person providing the actual search for the new EP agent, but will be involved down the road with the final decision of employment. You want them involved to make sure the perspective agent is the right fit for the client and the position. If the client and or company have a Head of Security, the hiring process, talent search, background checks and first interviews would be conducted by them.
What you are looking for and what to stay away from
I recommend reviewing several resumes and once a few serious candidates have been considered, a complete and thorough background investigation needs to be completed. The client will need to get a signed document allowing the clients company to perform a full background check. Some items you will want to investigate are the types of training they received, credit check, and motor vehicle history check. Depending on the country location, it is highly recommended to follow all of the Human Resources guidelines. Hiring right the first time is a huge effort but will be worth it for a very long time into your project. Some important points to observe when interviewing the prospective agents:
- How does the EP agent present himself / herself in a suit and or business casual?
- Does the agent look fit and willing to take a fitness exam?
- Willing to work long hours and can follow a flexible schedule?
- Does he or she have a calm and pleasant personality?
- Are they emotionally secure and mature?
- Does the candidate come across as a “Cowboy” or “Hollywood Action Hero”?
It is a challenge for clients or Project Managers who do not have or have not worked in security or the Executive Protection field; therefore they don’t know what is considered applicable experience or certified training. This would be a good opportunity to ask for consultation from a Security Consultant who would be able to assist you with this process. Most EP agents come from a military or police background. Applicants with this background will for sure thin out the applicants with very little to no real world experience. At this point you are walking a fine line with some of your applicants. Too much experience in certain areas of law enforcement or the military may actually hinder the performance of some applicants. I call it “Type Casting”. Some EP agents are not suited for corporate security or estate security due to an overexposure to certain types of projects such as high risk personal security details in hostile environments. They may not have the softer skills needed around a corporate client and his or her family. Then again, I have interviewed and worked with some of the finest EP agents in the world, who participated in all types of contracts and are able to blend into the new culture and environment they undertake. That is why the process of doing your research and putting the time in to provide a proper interview with potential new agent is so important.
Meeting the client
The last approach once you have narrowed it down to the agent that meets all of your requirement’s, is the have the client meet the candidate and or the family if they will be part of the project, to talk over a dinner or a casual event. The client and or spouse can bring a clear perspective and observe how the EP agent carries him or herself. This final observation if the client is not available can be decided on by the Head of Security or the clients House Manager or Chief of Staff.
Where to seek out EP Agents
As they say, “Time is of the essence”, and all of our daily schedules are busy. You may not have the time to devote a hundred percent to finding a right fit for your client when it comes to an Executive Protection agent. To build your database of possible new candidates, you may require the assistance of the Security Consultant who provided you with the assessment. Or I recommend some of the following research you can do to find agents for interviews.
- Check with other companies that have Executive Protection agents on staff.
- Reputable Executive Protection schools. They also seek out clients to provide work for newly graduated students.
- Social Media, LinkedIn, Estate and Manor Magazine
To hire successfully and implement the proper Executive Protection program for your client will take time. To quote a mentor of mine in the industry, Robert L. Oatman:
“The wise client looks not for brassy bravado but for results, for security, safety and facilitation. The agent who is humble, intelligent, strong and able can provide those results by practicing and mastering the art of executive protection.