This article is the introduction chapter from my book “The Close Protection Business” which sets the tone for the book and also puts some myths and issues to rest... The book “The Close Protection Business” at the below links!
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The Close Protection Business
Realities & Wisdom from the World of Bodyguards & Private Investigators
This book is a follow on to my two other books on the close protection industry and contains more advice, guidance and opinions that are based on my over 30-years international experience in the security, firearms, and close protection world.
You will see from the chapters in this book I have also added some content on private investigations, which as an industry goes hand in hand with the close protection business. If you cannot complete basic investigations which are required for client due diligence, compiling threat assessments and operational planning then your skill set is seriously lacking. If all you can do, and, if all you think the close protection business is about, is to follow a client around like a goon then mentality and employment wise you’re at the very bottom of the industry.
The close protection business is a unique business due to the facts it’s a people business and everyone is different. Everyone has their own unique personalities and own unique problems, this applies to clients, their staff, associates and especially those providing close protection, security, and investigation services. I tell people these days that my job is to babysit supposedly responsible adults… I babysit my clients to ensure their lives and travels are problem free and I babysit the bodyguards and people I supply my clients to ensure they are doing their jobs properly and not doing anything stupid that can cause me problems and cost me money.
Responsible and ethical people are very hard to find as everyone, especially in businesses like the close protection business has their own agendas. Everyone wants to be a Rock Star! Remember, trust is just a word, just hot air, and where money is concerned words mean nothing. As the old saying to remember that is very, very true “everyone will be nice to you before they fuck you…”.
Due to the nature of the business the serious clients will only come to you when they have problems, and those clients will expect to be secured and provided with solutions for those problems. The clients are not your friends, they are using you and you are using them. They are expecting you to deal with their shit and possibly get hurt, arrested, or buried for the lowest fee they can pay you. You are using them because you want their money for the services you provide. Boundaries are something you must understand and keep politely clear to everyone.
Many of those working in our industry are misfits, if they were not then they would have regular jobs and be content with a regular paycheck and a safe and predictable future. So, to manage such misfits successfully you need to at least understand them but preferably be one of them. This why most corporate security companies that try their hand in the close protection industry supply nothing more than glorified manned guarding services in plain cloths. They apply the same mindsets and protocols for looking after close protection clients as they do to guarding apartment blocks, offices and factories.
To work long term in the commercial close protection or private investigation business you need to be a hustler. And that survival instinct is also a trait that can be essential for protecting yourself and your clients both physically and financially.
The only reason you should be in this industry is because you want to use the skills you have to make money. If you head is full of such bullshit as you want to help protect people and save the world, then please fuck off and go work for a charity or NGO. And, then I am sure you would quickly see that the only reason the charities and NGO’s exist is for profit, egos and influence. To me, do-gooders and people who want to save the world have no place in the close protection business, they are liabilities who will do stupid shit, for stupid reasons and then leave it up to others to rectify the problems they cause.
Getting paid is the most important part of any business and this can be an issue in the close protection or private investigation businesses due to dealing with private clients or sub-contracts from others in our industry. A fact is that a lot of clients will do their best not to pay when their problems are solved, or they no longer need your services. So, ensure you know them, you can find them, have the right legal contracts in place and take the advance payments to at least cover your expenses and employee wages.
Personally, I tend not to take sub-contacts from other close protection or private investigation companies unless the money is good and in advance. Over the years I have had too many problems with the sub-contacting companies trying to blame us for their mistakes, bad communications with the clients, doctored reports and issues with payments and expenses.
Once upon a time I was happy to do people favors, but that has cost me money and caused me problems over the years. So, business is business, and if you respect someone you compensate them promptly for their time and efforts. Always analyses how people behave especially where money, ego and influence are concerned and if you don’t like what you see then don’t deal with them… This will save you time and money in the future.
Many of those who sub-contact out work will cut every penny they can from a budget, even when the client has paid well, and when things are not done to standard will tell the clients it was your negligence. But in reality, the client got the standard of services that you were paid to provide them with. In such cases side-stepping those sub-contacting the job to you and approaching the clients is the only reasonable response.
I don’t like dealing with such unethical business but if someone is trying to discredit you while making money off your services then I see no issues with removing them from the business equation and dealing directly with the client.
The close protection and private investigations industry is full of people whose egos far exceed their intelligence, experience, and capabilities. If you’re following a lot of the conversations on social media reference the close protection industry you will see may people complaining about the declining standard of the industry. Well, it’s a fact that there has always been Muppets and cowboys in the industry, some of whom have done very well for themselves. Business is business and if they get paid for their bullshit then power too them, as long as they stay away from me…
I think these days a major issue is that the world of close protection and private investigators was once a very low profile and word of mouth world but has now been commercialized and opened up to everyone. This has swamped the market with people, who through no fault of their own, are not suited for the close protection business etc.
Over the last 20-years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., and the mass use of security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan people’s perspective of the close protection industry has changed. The actual close protection job has remained the same, and always will, but it has been blurred and mixed in with those providing overt armed security duties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Providing close protection is completely different than providing what’s classed as Protective Security Detail (PSD) duties. For me PSD has more in common with cash in transit security duties than close protection details.
Also, these days it’s simple, in places like the United Kingdom, for someone to become a licensed close protection operative quickly, easily and cheaply. Since the formation of the Security Industry Authority (SIA) in UK the standard of the close protection industry and those working in it has crashed. Mainly due to the fact of the low standard of training required for someone to get a UK SIA close protection license, which is one of the very few government issued close protection licenses available. The SIA close protection courses are being given to those people who are unemployed and unable to get jobs by the government unemployment departments. So, you can see the candidate base for those that have the SIA close protection license is set at a very high standard…
I understand the UK SIA have only just added a conflict resolution / use of force requirement for the 140-hour SIA close protection course after about 15-years since it was first introduced. From a real-world perspective, having a 140-hour CP course with no self-defense or conflict resolution training is complete bullshit.
One SIA instructor said to me when I asked him about these conflict resolution issues that close protection operatives don’t get into fights… Well, maybe not during tea and biscuit breaks on his course, but in the real world you better understand violence and use of force. This person might be a SIA close protection instructor, but I know for a fact he has never provided or worked in the close protection business apart from providing PSD in Iraq.
Another SIA close protection instructor I know, who I was in the British Army with, has again only every worked in Iraq and Afghanistan. I doubt if he had ever set foot in a 5-star hotel, restaurant, or corporate headquarters. But he was instructing people to provide close protection services where working in 5-star environments can be part of your daily routine. Also, it would be impossible for me to take seriously anyone who attended his course because, not only his personal lack of experience, but also the fact he was signing off on certifications without people needing to do the courses. And I am sure he’s not the only one.
I remember when the SIA close protection licenses were first introduced, and no one knew how the training was going to be structured or provided. I knew quite a few people who were approaching the SIA as they wanted to know the requirements to be a training provider, but no information was available. Miraculously when the licenses were launched there about 10 companies that were ready and approved to provide the courses required for the license.
I take it these companies were connected to those setting up the licensing requirements. I am sure everyone will agree, this stink of corruption, as only a favored few private companies were apparently given the opportunity to actually be able to offer the courses. I am sure at that time when many people needed the licenses that these companies made a lot of money… Thanks to apparently some good and privileged guidance from their friends at the SIA!
As you can see the close protection and private investigation industries can be very clicky and shady from the supposed upper echelons and all the way down to the very bottom. But you personally must ensure that you operate within the legal, licensing, business, financial and tax laws of where you are working. Be assured that if you gain any success in our business your jealous competitors will be trying to sabotage you and your business by anonymously reporting you to everyone from the licensing authorities for false infringements to Facebook for offensive posts. So, cover your ass and remember, trust is just a word and that you have no friends where money and business are concerned.
You might find my opinions somewhat cynical but be assured what I am writing is the truth. Both personally and professionally, I only deal with the truth. In this business, which if your serious about is a 24/7-way of life, you need to maintain a distance from the fraudsters and fakes whether they are potential associates, clients, or training providers.
My advice for those wanting to get into the close protection business is don’t expect the work to come to you, go and find it. Move to a major city or travel to a place where there is a need for close protection services, and don’t expect to get well paid while you’re learning your trade. I was 22-years old when I first worked protecting clients, armed and in what many would class as a very hostile environment, but to me it was a classroom.
Today, we live in a world of all-inclusive certifications where the weak can become warriors via virtual online, no-fail courses or by tactical competitions without ever having to risk having their feelings hurt. Personally, I would sooner employ someone who had the experience of taking a beating and getting back up again than someone who just had some pretty bits of paper or bogus awards and trophies.
The close protection business is a very hard business where big fish, if they ever have the courage to leave their small ponds, tend to get eaten by sharks… So, decide early in your career so as to save yourself problems further on. Decide if you want to live in a small pond or swim in the sea… And stick to that decision!