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Close Protection Management - Should You Trust Clients?

In theory when providing close protection services, you should show unflinching loyalty to your clients, but will they show you the same level of loyalty in return?

I am very lucky as the clients I tend to work with are those who understand that I will work with them 100% if they cooperate with me and if they pay me. Mutual respect and efficient communications are essential in any business and I think more so in the close protection industry as you as you are dealing with your clients on a personal level.

Boundaries must always be made clear as business is business, and this works to protect your and the clients’ interests. Your clients are not your friends, they are clients paying you to provide them with a service and if boundaries are ignored it can undermine any respect and the business relationship. You need to decide if you are providing protective services to you clients so you can earn money or you are just going to hang out with them.

I stopped dealing with a client that use to come to me for firearms and self-defense training last year, he could have been a very good client for a multiple of reasons, but he had an obsession with strippers and hookers. He could be classed as fairly high-profile but when his wife and kids were not around, he was making a lot of stupid decisions that he liked to brag about. When he asked if I could get someone to go and get his wife’s favorite designer coat back from a hooker he had lent it to, while she was staying at his apartment, while his wife and kids were away, I stopped answering his calls… You can always make money for stupid clients but remember shit sticks!

There needs to be a healthy relationship with your clients, you do not want to let them dominate you and you don’t want to try to dominate and control them. I have had students come to me who have been told on close protection courses that when they are working their clients must do as they are told, the clients should not question security procedures as they are not the experts, they must always have control of their clients passports etc. To me this is completely unrealistic and unnecessary. I know from the clients I have worked with that if some asshole tried to bully them around, they would be fired on the spot and rightly so.

Forging and maintaining professional relationships can be very difficult and there needs to be give and take on both sides. If people are mature enough and understand the situations they are in, most will be able to cooperate effectively without unnecessary drama.

The title of this article is “Should we Trust Clients”, my personal answer to this is never trust them… Respect them, but never trust them! Now, give me a reason why you think a client would lie to you about why they wanted to hire you to provide them with security or close protection services?

There are multiple reasons as to why a client would lie and threat levels are one of them. Many years ago, I had a client that did not lie to me but did not tell the whole truth about a situation. The job was a simple asset check on a regular businessman investing in Eastern Europe. The client conveniently forgot to tell me they knew they knew the investor was working with suspected organized criminals and was under an active government investigation. This we found all this out, but it would have been safer for my people if we had the heads up in the beginning.

Why did the client not tell us, he could claim he wanted us to find out to confirm his suspicions, but I will say they knew that if they were honest with me, I would have quoted a far higher price than I did for the initial investigation. Understand, where business and money are concerned many clients will see you as very expendable and replaceable.

One incident early in my career high-lighted to me why clients should never be fully trusted and why everything they say should be questioned. Many years ago, I was working in South Africa and the boss of the company I was working for said he has special job he wanted me to do, which meant little to me as the pay was the same.

I was told a factory complex was having issues with someone breaking into the trucks that were parked on the site at night and they wanted the issue to stop. That night I was waiting close to where the trucks were parked and heard someone climbing over one of the sheet metal gates into the complex. It was dark and I headed quietly in between the parked trucks to intercept them, I had my 4” .375 revolver out and in single action. Luckily, I heard them get into one of the many trucks before I bumped into whoever it was. All I could do then was wait for them to make a move and again try to intercept them.

Early in morning at about first light I heard movement, a truck door opening, and managed to intercept the person who happened to be a homeless African guy. When he saw me and the revolver pointed at his head, to put it very politely he was shit himself. He was compliant, not aggressive, had no weapons, opened his coat and lifted his shirt to show me he hadn’t stolen anything. When I asked what he was doing he explained he slept in the trucks as he had nowhere else to go. I told him to fuck off, and not to come back…

When I reported what had happened to the owner of the complex, they were not happy and wanted to know why I had not shot the homeless guy. When I explained there was no reason, they accused me of being a coward etc. When the boss of the company I was working for turned up he wanted to know why I had not shot him, I think my response was something like “lets go find him and you can shoot him”. From my perspective then and now I would have definitely had been a coward for shooting an unarmed homeless man who was just looking for somewhere to sleep.

If I had bumped into that homeless guy as I initially went to intercept him as he climbed over the gates into the complex he would have died, such is life, and no one would have really cared at that time... Why would he have died? Because I was young, stupid and had been given a false briefing about what was going on and believed it. The owner of the complex was a coward who thought he could hire people to do dirty work he would never have had the guts to do himself. The owner of the security company I was working for was another coward who’s only thoughts were on keeping the contract and impressing the complex owner. That one short night taught me to always question the reason why someone is hiring me especially if there is the likelihood of hostilities occurring.

I have quite a few more examples of why clients should not be trusted until they have proven to be semi-trustworthy. Even though the romantic and Hollywood image of the “bodyguard” is of someone who would unquestionably die for their clients, the reality is that you must question everything.

Think about if things go bad who will be paying your hospital bills, bailing you out of jail, paying for your lawyers, looking after you family while you are in hospital, jail or the morgue? The client, your boss? I think neither…!

Books on Amazon

Close Protection: Luxury & Hostile Environments

This book is relevant for bodyguards, investigators & those working in hostile environments.

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