Working Smarter to Protect Family Offices and High-Profile Individuals


No detail is too small when evaluating the activity that surrounds high-profile individuals and their families. Whether it be their morning coffee shop routine, their children’s activity level on social media, or how to keep an appropriate distance from crowds at philanthropic events, there is a great deal of risk to mitigate on a day-to-day basis.

The ability to capture information is constantly expanding and makes the ability to access sensitive information much easier — especially when it comes to individuals in the spotlight. This is why it’s important to reverse engineer things and put yourself in the place of the threat actor to figure out, ‘What steps would I take if I were the bad guy in order to get into the world of this protectee?’ Staying one step ahead is not easy, but with processes and technology that spot and surface warnings, teams can work smarter to avoid everything from small issues to worst-case scenarios.

Here are three questions to keep in mind when evaluating your program:

Force multiplier — How are you spending your time?

Every minute of the day matters in ensuring your principal’s physical and online presence is protected — as well as their surrounding family and staff. When teams can automate many of the tasks like monitoring threat activity or unknown vehicles on the perimeter of a residence, they can spend valuable time being the eyes and ears of the protection unit, versus being buried in data.

Oftentimes, “teams” are comprised of one individual in charge of supporting not only the main principal but their family as well. Travis Lishok, a former protective intelligence analyst for a professional sports team and Associate Director at Ontic, shares the many agendas he was responsible for supporting in his role in his article What I Learned from Protecting a Professional Sports Team Owner.

Additionally, knowing your process can easily scale and adapt to changes in team structure and new threats (i.e., health and safety) is critical, because we know that a family office is a business and it must adapt to economic changes.

Automation — Are you relying on hard copies and Post-it notes?

With binders and notebooks of threat documentation, connecting the dots becomes increasingly challenging. Having the confidence to report that a threat was a random act and not connected to historical activity (prior threat actors) is one way to ease the pressure that comes with the territory of protecting others 24/7.

There are ways to manage online presence and ensure intelligence is always on, such as training principals and their families on the risks associated with social media, watching news and media cycles, and automating threat activity as soon as it arises.

Privacy and discretion — Are you looking for signals to protect against larger threats?

Family offices require the utmost level of privacy and discretion in their day-to-day operations, as even the smallest data point of a principal’s routine can lead to uncovering more.

Kidnapping is a threat that often drives many personal security decisions; however, as Fred Burton, Executive Director of the Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence, shares, “Threat of kidnappings is very low for high-net-worth families and CEOs within the United States. I’ve come to believe that these kidnapping fears are not based on facts, but driven by perceptions and the media interest surrounding historical cases.” Stalking is also a common threat against high-profile individuals and one that can sometimes lead to a more violent course of action.

Strategizing for a worst-case scenario event often involves planning that takes months or years to execute, so it’s important to constantly look for signals of what doesn’t look or feel right.

Download our whitepaper, Family Office and High-Profile Security: Three Ways to Elevate a New Standard of Protection, to learn more about the ways you can elevate your security program to keep family offices and high-profile individuals safe.