Identifying and Developing an Effective Security Program

This month we are continuing to explore how protection programs play a substantial role in the areas of ultra-high net wealth, private family offices, and corporations.

Last month we defined what a protective services program is, why it’s needed, different services that are available, and what a successful program looks like. Now we are discussing how to determine the needs of a program, why one should consider outsourcing a security program, and different value added components of a protective services program.


A critical first step in developing a new program or scaling an existing program is to conduct a risk assessment. The assessment should determine the people and/or places critical to the program, the impact to the operation should they be lost, hurt, or permanently separated from the operation, as well as the risks and threats associated with each person or place.

Once this information has been identified, the next step is to gather all available information about each person and/or place. Sources of information include interviews, open source and dark web sites on the internet, a review of current policies and procedures, and shadowing a principal or an operation for a period of time. When interviewing, questions should include but not be limited to areas such as:

  • Daily habits at home, work, and while traveling.

  • Medical issues with the principal(s) or staff.

  • Staffing and their levels of access to information and properties.

  • Frequently attended or hosted events, as well as associated political or charitable organizations.

  • Travel frequency and the scope of travel; domestic or international.

  • Risk within travel locations. (What are the specific risks in those locations to the principal(s)?)

  • Are there multiple properties owned or operated?

  • Does the principal(s) attempt to keep a low profile? If so, how successful is their attempt to do so?

  • Does the person actively seek out public attention and is that attention part of their ongoing success?

  • Is there a history of prior threats and are there any potential threats in the future?

Often times those interviewed will provide opinions and assumptions rather than facts of what actually occurs. A key component to completing an accurate and successful assessment is the comparing information received during interviews with the information found during the research.

A vital person to include in the assessment which is often overlooked is the executive assistant (EA). Experienced protection professionals know that developing a professional relationship with an EA early in the process is key. This person is likely the executive’s primary point of contact for day to day operations, and is often a trusted confidant of the principal. Not only does the EA have influence with the principal, they have a considerable amount of insight into information like travel plans, daily meeting schedules, etc.

Once interviews are completed, the next step is assessing the results and developing recommendations to mitigate the identified risks. Experienced security professionals will provide multiple options to mitigate risks so the company or individual can pick the option that works best based on their unique circumstances (company culture, building design etc.). Results of an assessment can vary. Some recommendations may include simply adding security cameras to a home, implementing new or revised employee policies, the use of a security trained driver, or a full protective detail at home, the office and while on the road.

Outsourcing the Assessment and the Protective Services Program

Outsourcing both the assessment and the actual protective services have unique advantages. An experienced security firm can not only provide a fresh perspective to an assessment, but with years of proven experience in a variety of environments, can help identify potential issues otherwise not normally acknowledged.

Additional advantages of outsourcing include:

  • Faster implementation of a new program.

  • Years of experience, best practices, and industry leading solutions that have proven to be successful in a variety of situations.

  • Access to a variety of personnel with various backgrounds and experience levels.

  • The ability to use personnel on an as-needed basis or full-time depending on service needs.

  • Access to a broader network of vetted global partners that have proven performance.

  • Reduced needs for things like specialized licenses and insurance.

The recommendations made by the consultant can also provide tax advantages. Under IRS 132, if a bonafide business-orientated security concern exists, a company may exclude certain expenditures related to an employee. To do this, the consultant, must articulate the risk associated with the individual or operation and justify the recommendation.

For example, should the assessment identify risks associated with the principal utilizing a ride share program because of their status in the community or their wealth, and the recommendation is made for the principal to utilize a trained security driver, then those associated costs could be a potential company deduction under IRS 132.

Program Basics and Value Added

The goal of any protective service program is to keep the client safe without being intrusive. As the role of a protective service professional has evolved in recent years, so has the value adds each professional brings to the program. Once the client has arrived at their destination or is done for the day, a well-trained security professional’s work does not stop.

The following is a sample of non-traditional services performed by security staff. These services are often not seen, but add massive value to an operation.

  • Monthly auditing and inventory of safety and emergency equipment.

  • Managing staff access, key logs and access rights.

  • Managing (receiving, documenting, and tracking) inbound and outbound deliveries.

  • Conducting new or reoccurring backgrounds of staff, vendors, and visitors.

  • Monitoring additional properties and providing remote access.

  • Maintaining contractor access during projects.

  • Overseeing vehicle and property equipment maintenance.

  • Liaising with local police and fire personnel.

  • Monitoring global events that could potentially impact the client.

  • Monitoring the clients digital presence and investigating potential online threats and potential “bad actors”.

  • Providing basic reception duties such as greeting and escorting visitors, as well as restricting access to solicitors and those without appointments.

  • Managing inbound and outbound deliveries.

  • Transporting executives and their guests to offsite meetings, airport etc.

  • Monitoring travel and providing or locating secured transportation in visiting cities.


Ultimately, there will always be some level of risk and threat, but an effective security program will stop a hostile act as early as possible in the attack cycle (sometimes while the act is still in the planning stages) to maximize prevention and minimize potential damage from what cannot be prevented.

Even the best security professionals cannot completely remove the chance of every possible incident, but an effective security strategy does seek to identify and minimize the likelihood of the most probable and critical risks without imposing on or hindering daily routines.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore this concept next month where we will discuss the process of selecting the appropriate personnel and what to look for in a company when outsourcing protective services.

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