Risks and threats to wealthy executives is nothing new. John D. Rockefeller in the early 1900s used family offices to oversee the many obligations and the wealth that he had earned over the many years of his oil refining business. He gained influence over the railroad industry due to his oil successes. Since Rockefeller numerous ultra high net worth executives and their families have used family offices to help take care of their many financial obligations. The difference between now and then is really technology. Now we have cyber threats to contend with. We are a busy world with many threats that can reach the door step of a top tier executive or celebrity with speed, efficiency, and danger. So when we assess the dangers brought to us by a family office we look at five categories.
The Office: We find that many high level executives who own high level corporations start considering protection when they have business mergers or go from a private entity to a public entity by IPO (Initial Public Offering). When their million dollar business is now a billion dollars. Celebrities can hit millions by a release of an album or signing an NBA contract. Charles Geschke the co-founder of Adobe was kidnapped in 1992 from in front of his office.
Daily Travel: I separated two distinct travel patterns. Let's discuss routine travel. This category allows us to find primary and alternate routes to and from work to home and vice versa. These routes will include any shopping, gym, spa treatments, etc. that the client goes to. Any conferences, meetings, luncheons that are local as well. Sometimes you look for quick and efficient ways to get to a location or perhaps the safer way is not quick and efficient. There are a lot of factors that could weigh in on these decisions but every client and every location are different. Since many attacks occur at arrival and departure points make sure that the clients travel is locked down and every avenue has been covered.
Extended Travel: This could be national or international. It could be a long distance within the same state. This could be a vacation, meeting, or seminar. Planes, trains, boats, or cars all factor in. I keep this separate because the threat assessment is vastly different. It's important to know the risks involved in traveling to the designated destination. Use state department resources if travelling internationally.
Residence: The client will be the most vulnerable at their home. Because of this vulnerability risks and threats increase. It doesn't matter if it's a permanent residence or a vacation home a residential survey should always be completed. Many high net worth clients have been confronted by stalkers in or about their residence so use extreme vigilance when providing residential protection.
Digital footprints: Cybersecurity and hacking is an entire different discussion. This is more about the breadcrumbs left on social media or the internet by your client or their family. Without proper protocols in place this could be a recipe for danger. Because you can't always control the children involved you must routinely do your own assessment to verify if there are footprints that lead to travel plans or special events. Besides breadcrumbs are there heated discussions from one executive to another. These can border along threats which clearly is a risk we want to avoid.
The family office is always evolving. There are several ways that vulnerabilities can be breached. We as family office protection managers must always be a step ahead. Always thinking with the objective to keep the family and executive safe.