When your company motto is forward thinking, it’s natural to look ahead to see what the new year is likely to bring.
In this blog, Christian West, Brian Jantzen and Ray O’Hara call out the seven trends they believe will mean most for the executive protection industry in 2019.
1. The executive protection industry will grow even more in 2019 due to a number of underlying developments
As businesses continue to grow internationally, so will the need for increased secure travel support and executive protection services.
Further driving this increased demand is the widespread perception that uncertainty is on the rise. Not only are we experiencing more and more economic and political disruptions (see link to the graph above). In many countries, polarization continues to grow apace with the fragmentation of established media usage and increased awareness of income disparity. And then there’s all that news about mass shootings and terrorism…
Another reason explaining our industry’s growth is that more and more organizations are realizing that something can be done to mitigate risk: secure travel and EP services. This is not least due to:
- Better understanding: The conversation has changed, and there is now a better understanding about what executive protection and secure travel services actually are compared to the myths and stereotypes that were more prevalent even just a few years ago.
- More experience: As more and more executives try out these services, word spreads and benchmarking between organizations gets better/more transparent
- A broadening interpretation of duty of care: More and more corps are offering secure travel and EP services to more and more employees – not just the CEO and C-suite
We expect to see growth in all professional service segments, including executive protection, secure travel, residential security, intelligence analysis, and event security.
2. Training and professional development will play an increasingly important role in the executive protection industry
As a result of the growth described above, the number of job openings in our industry is growing faster than the number of qualified candidates. Better training and more professional development will be the two key ways to bridge the gap between supply and demand.
Here’s what we expect to see:
- There is a large pool of potential candidates who possess many basic and even advanced security skills but need additional training to utilize these skills in the private sector. We will see more and better transitional training for people with backgrounds in the military and law enforcement.
- Clients and providers will embrace training as a key tool to maintain and improve operational readiness as well as to attract and retain qualified talent.
- The necessity of ongoing training activities – as well as their costs and responsibilities – will be discussed more transparently between providers and clients.
- Training will be built into more and more contracts.
- Career development of executive protection practitioners will be increasingly important for both providers and clients:
- We will need to hire more team leaders and managers. These folks will have to come up through the ranks and receive special training.
- There will still be plenty of job hopping as people look for better opportunities in other companies, but explicit career development programs and career ladders will begin to appear more broadly.
3. Intelligence analysis will evolve from a buzzword to a core element of more professional executive protection
There has been a lot of focus on intelligence analysis in the executive protection industry over the past few years. We think 2019 might be the year where we move from hype to integration.
Although there has been a lot of interest in intel, cooperation between the more deskbound professionals who perform threat analysis and the field-based professionals who provide executive protection and secure travel support has not been effective enough.
Better integration between intelligence analysis and executive protection efforts will occur in at least two practical ways in 2019:
- POIs and GOIs: There will be better and more regular analysis of people of interest (POIs) and groups of interest (GOIs) – and there will be improved, more dynamic communication about these between intelligence analysts and executive protection managers and agents.
- Travel risk assessments: Clients will want more travel risk assessments. Already now, many organizations want up-to-date (and often last-minute) evaluations of the places they are sending people. This trend will grow, and intelligence analysts will play an increasingly important role in providing the information.
4. Clients will demand more creativity and innovation in executive protection practices
Compared to other industries, the executive protection industry is still dominated by traditional thinking.
Operational practices have changed little over the last 30 years. Executive protection training schools offer curricula that are largely similar to what was available in the 1980s. Secret Service-inspired formations and procedures still dominate protective thinking.
Don’t get us wrong – it’s not that there is anything wrong with the tried and true methods that we and others use every day. They have proven their worth for decades and they will not go away anytime soon. However, we believe client demand will pave the way for new ways to protect that will supplement or to some degree replace the more traditional approaches. For one thing, although many corporate clients want and need better protection, few can afford the massive coverage that heads of state receive. Even fewer are interested in what they perceive as the cumbersome intrusions in their private lives that such old-style protection entails.
We expect to see more creativity and innovation in many areas. Increased use of covert protection and protective surveillance, for example, is one way that more and more clients will be prioritizing their protective spend to minimize intrusiveness. New, smarter, and more efficient ways to collect and analyze intelligence – for everything from POIs to travel intelligence and alerts – will be more commonplace, too.
Further to trends 2 and 3 mentioned above, we expect the “live and work anywhere” concept to become more commonplace in the executive protection industry. Increasingly, executive protection talent will fly in to work a number of days, then fly home for a similar number of days off. In a growing industry where job openings in one location can outpace the local talent pool, such flexible scheduling will enable better matches between talent supply and demand.
We also expect to see more hybrid jobs in our industry. For example, intel folks with the right background could easily become part of an organization’s emergency response setup. There will be many other possible combinations as companies scale their protective capabilities in new, flexible ways.
5. Operational excellence of executive protection and secure travel services will be increasingly measured
For far too long, clients have not been able to determine the quality of their protective services in any objective way. As we’ve pointed out in a previous blog, just because nothing happens to the principal doesn’t mean that security is good. How are clients to ascertain whether the principal’s wellbeing is because of security operations – or in spite of them? We believe 2019 will bring everyone in the industry a little closer to knowing the difference.
We expect that quality assurance will become a bigger topic in the future and that this will be reflected in both RFPs, SOWs, and ongoing client-provider relations. Clients will want to see metrics that enable them to assess the quality of their protection providers’ operational readiness, and reporting and discussing these metrics on a regular basis will happen more and more.
6. Procurement of executive protection and secure travel services will be more professional
We expect that those responsible for corporate and family office executive protection and secure travel purchases will become even more professional in the coming year.
Of course, price always matters; for some is the only relevant criteria. But just as executive protection companies continue to establish themselves as professional service providers – and differentiate their services from the more commodity-driven segments of the security industry such as guard services – corporate procurement professionals are becoming increasingly savvy about what constitutes good executive protection, what drives costs, and how programs can best be conceived to deliver sustainable value.
We already see this trend evident in better, more detailed RFPs and we expect this to continue in 2019. Some of the trends mentioned above will make themselves evident here, too, as procurement will be increasingly focused on issues such as measuring operational excellence and making responsibility for training costs and implementation more transparent.
7. There will be more armed executive protection details
As we’ve pointed out in a previous blog, demand for armed protection details is on the rise for a variety of reasons – and raises a number of critical issues – not least in the United States. Some ways of arming protective agents are far better than others.
We expect this trend to continue in 2019.
The increased arming of protection details entails a range of consequences that reflect the trends mentioned above. Finding and training the right talent will be of paramount importance, as will ensuring the operational readiness of armed agents. Hybrid jobs that include armed agents could become more common, too. And corporate procurement departments more accustomed to sourcing widgets will have to gain insight into issues concerning certifications and licensing.
What’s on your radar for 2019?
Of course, it’s difficult to make predictions – especially about the future. But based on everything we’ve seen for the last few years, we’re willing to go out on a limb for the seven trends we mention in this blog.
We’re also very interested in hearing your ideas: what do you expect to be important for the executive protection industry in 2019? What’s on your radar? Be sure to ping us on social media to let us know!