The corporate executive protection industry is changing. Organizations are getting smarter about the kinds of protection they need. Executive protection (EP) providers are becoming more professional as they integrate their services into corporate ecosystems. For the right people, the current career opportunities are better than ever before.
If you want to work in this field, it’s important that you understand the main trends that are affecting careers in corporate executive EP. That’s why we are writing this blog. And that’s why we are launching a new Guide to Careers in Corporate Executive Protection – free of charge for anyone to download.
But before you get your guide, be sure to have a look at the six trends we see shaping the future of employment in corporate EP.
Trend 1: The corporate EP industry is growing
Corporate EP is the fastest growing segment of the EP industry.
Increasing globalization means that companies can no longer stay put on their home market if the want to grow and sustain competitive advantage. Much of their growth is taking place in new and emerging markets, including developing nations that are often not as safe as OECD countries.
At the same time, societal and political developments mean the need for security for C-suite and high net worth individuals is increasing in many countries. Income gaps between the ultra-high net worth and others continue to widen; threats to the wealthy continue to increase. Terrorism, whether it’s abroad or of the homegrown variety, is also a mounting threat around the world.
As one of our clients told us: “You guys make it easier to travel, so we travel more.” We see more and more companies and high net worth individuals thinking like this, and this is a key reason that there are more job openings to serve these segments.
Trend 2: The corporate EP industry is getting more and more professional
There’s no doubt that the corporate EP industry needs more innovation and more professionalization. Some companies are adapting to the market’s evolving needs, but in our fragmented industry there are still too many quacks calling themselves EP pros who have neither the training, experience nor skills to service major corporations internationally.
Sorry, but it’s no longer enough to simply have a background in law enforcement or the military to work in corporate EP. There is increased focus on dedicated EP training, actual EP experience and all the soft skills and personality traits that separate so-so agents from the ones who thrive working closely with corporate principals.
Corporate clients are looking for EP providers that can scale a variety of EP services quickly and internationally, and those of us serving corporations need to keep up. So do our job applicants.
Trend 3: EP training schools are increasingly seen as “the good ones” and “all the rest”
The handful of top EP schools have their reputations for a reason: They have earned it. They provide solid training that sharpens relevant, employable skills. They use instructors with real-world EP experience and know how to teach. Their graduates get the good jobs.
Contrast the results of these few schools to those of many other schools, and the consequences for aspiring EP agents should be clear: You need to choose your training academy carefully.
Our industry needs better training standards and certifications. ASIS certifications help, but will no doubt be further improved as the industry evolves.
Trend 4: There is an increasing focus on soft skills
This is a people business. Some weeks our corporate principals spend more time with an EP team than they do with their own family.
So while it’s really wonderful that you have a black belt in karate and know how to drive through a blizzard on two wheels, what often matters more is your ability to read a social situation so you know when to step up and when to stay a few steps behind.
Hard skills are necessary, but not sufficient, in order to be successful in our field and get the best jobs. Soft skills like emotional intelligence, resourcefulness and maintaining a service mentality are more and more important. EP professionals who work in corporate environments must be able to adapt not only to different organizational cultures. They also need to understand the personal preferences of the people they are protecting. Empathy and etiquette are just as important as everything else.
Trend 5: Corporate security departments are changing fast – and so are security director roles
Corporate security directors need to coordinate many aspects of security these days. They take care of the physical protection of corporate campuses and production facilities. They might have intelligence analysis and investigations under their wings. Some are also charged with overall responsibility for IT security and keeping hackers on the other side of the corporate firewall.
Among the diverse and growing range of security services corporations must integrate, executive protection is probably the least integrated. Many corporate security directors don’t have experience with writing or implementing a corporate EP strategy, and few have conducted the Risk, Threat and Vulnerability Assessments (RTVAs), which form the foundation of a quality EP program.
When they need to add EP into the overall security mix, they face unfamiliar “make/buy” decisions: Should we outsource parts or all of our EP program? Should we hire our own FTEs, or used embedded agents from an established EP provider?
The upshot for aspiring EP agents is that there are new jobs opening up, working either directly for corporations or for the EP companies that service them.
Trend 6: Career planning is getting more and more important
There are too many good EP agents who are stuck in low-level jobs with careers going nowhere fast. Why? The industry has little experience in career planning. EP companies and corporate EP departments need to have better HR skills, career ladders and individual development plans. And frankly, a lot of EP agents need to think different when they begin working in corporate EP. Good careers are possible – career planning too – but you have to work for them.
Without career development opportunities, good agents and managers will leave one job in order to find another – often only to end in another dead-end position. Career-development-by-job-hopping should not be the only way. We all need to get better at this.
We encourage job applicants to ask critical questions of potential employers concerning the potential for moving up the career ladder. If the company representative can’t answer with anything but shrug, then you might want to keep looking.
The corporate EP industry needs good leaders, and we all have a responsibility to develop them.
So what is AS Solution doing to stay abreast of these trends? Plenty.
In addition to constantly working for increased professionalism with our own EP agents, managers and corporate clients, we have helped many with better career planning.
Now we’re taking this effort to the next level and publishing a free guide to careers in the corporate EP industry. There are a lot of misconceptions about the executive protection industry – and too many unrealistic career expectations. When much of the information about our industry comes from fly-by-night training schools and unprofessional EP providers, then this should come as no surprise.
We know what’s happening in the industry, we know what’s necessary to make a good career in it, and we believe we have the responsibility to tell it like it is. Yes, we’re doing this out of self-interest, too. We’re growing, and we need more and better candidates.
But it is also our sincere hope that our career guide will be useful to everyone who wants to build a career in corporate EP – whether you apply for a job at AS Solution or another company. We hope the guide will encourage everyone in the industry to keep pushing for further innovation and professionalization. We’re open for input on how to make it better, and we look forward to your feedback.
Please visit http://careers.assolution.com to download your free copy of our Guide to Careers in Corporate EP