Risk for executives in United States is on the rise. Therefore, hiring executive protection professionals has become the rule instead of the exception over the past decade. The need for security and driver services are highlighted by incidents such as the kidnapping and murder of tech CEO Tushar Atre and most recently the brutal shooting of Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan. Tushar Atre was kidnapped from his residence and killed by disgruntled employees. He was then left in his personal vehicle to be found on another one of his nearby properties. No security team was present at the residence which enabled easy access to his home for the intruders.
Security, Safety, Reputation, Convenience & Productivity
Microsoft executive Jared Bridegan was shot multiple times outside of his vehicle while his 2-year-old daughter remained strapped in her car seat. Police reports indicate that Mr. Bridegan may have been lured out of his vehicle by a wheel and tire that was blocking his driving lane before he was ambushed. Police have not yet determined if this was a random act of violence or a targeted assassination. However, both incidents would have likely been prevented by the presence and expertise of an experienced executive protection team. Although the need for security is generally the initiating factor for hiring protection, this is only a small piece of the wholistic approach used by savvy protection industry leaders.
Protection experts additionally prioritize the safety of their assigned protectees. Many times, this will consist of supplying a trained professional driver to enable the productivity and preferred lifestyle of their clients. The Tiger Woods car crash of 2021 is one example of a recent and preventable safety and reputational incident. The physical injuries sustained from the crash removed Tiger from PGA competition for over a year. The Indiana car crash of involving US representative Jackie Walorski is another very recent example of a preventable vehicular death. Mrs.Walorski was being escorted to an engagement by a local political chairman when he crossed the center line hitting another vehicle. This resulted in the death of all four of the occupants of the vehicle. It is likely that a professional driver supplied by an executive protection team could have easily prevented both incidents.
Reputational protection is a crucial part of modern protection programs. Because of the perceived negligence surrounding the Tiger Woods crash, formal apologies were needed to retain sponsors and to minimize the monetary loss associated with his absence from the tour. Another example is the Bill Gates “pie incident” during the early years of his success. Mr. Gates did not have a protection team at the time and was hit in the face with a pie by 3 different assailants after exiting his vehicle to attend a meeting in Brussels. Although a pie to the face may seem like a minor incident this caused the Microsoft executive team and board of directors to reassess the Chairman’s need for proper security.
A few of the most overlooked reasons to hire a trained protection team are simply that it increases the executive’s productivity, prioritizes their convenience, and offers a solid the return on investment. The more that an executive can focus on their job and outsource tasks such as booking flights and hotels and driving during their commute, the more productive they will likely be.
The top 350 CEOs in the United States earn a median salary of 15.6 million dollars per year with the top 10% currently earning around 100 million dollars each year. A Harvard study recently indicated that CEOs average 62.5 labor hours each work week. By extrapolating the data above, we find that on average, CEOs earn about $4,800 per hour or $80 per minute. Imagine what a 30-minute one way commute 275 days per year is worth to the company. A trained protection team will understand what increases executive productivity and will handle certain tasks or arrange to ease the burden on the executive’s schedule.
Also, many protection services come with attractive tax benefits to companies and high net worth individuals. The IRS code 132.5 – Fringe Benefits: Outlines that fringe benefits are to be treated as compensation to be included as income under section 61 unless there is a specific statutory exclusion that applies to the benefit. This benefit applies to Executive Security programs if an overall security program will be deemed to exist in situations where the employer conducts and implements an “independent security study” with respect to the at-risk employee. Industry leading executive protection companies provide these independent security studies and recommend courses of action that are feasible, desirable, and effective for executives and their companies.
David Hobson, MBA is a former soldier that served in the following roles during his time in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division: Airborne Infantry Team Leader, Small Unit Tactics Instructor, Training Budget Manager and Procurement Manager. He is currently working in private security as a Project Manager and Close Protection Specialist with LaSorsa & Associates.