Miranda Kerr, who is one of Intelligent Protection’s clients.Andreas Rentz/Getty
It can be hard to fathom how some of the world’s richest people live, and the vast wealth that they control.
Sri and Gopi Hinduja, the brothers on the top of this year’s Sunday Times rich list, are worth more than the entire GDPs of Belize and the Central African Republic.
With that much power at stake, how are they being protected? Business Insider spoke to three bodyguards from Intelligent Protection, a British bodyguard company, to find out.
The 60-person firm’s clientele include billionaires, business executives, royal family members, and celebrities, including Miranda Kerr and Benedict Cumberbatch. The firm declined to provide the names of other clients for security reasons.
It has bodyguards deployed around the globe, CEO Alex Bomberg told BI, with teams in the UK, the US, France, Spain, Italy, Monaco, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan, and the Bahamas alone.
Here’s some advice from Bomberg and two of his employees on how to protect the world’s rich and famous.
View As: One Page Slides
Communication and diplomacy are more important than muscle.
Intelligent Protection’s Polly Wilton on a job in the Bahamas in July.Courtesy of Polly Wilton
Contrary to popular belief, size isn’t key to being a good bodyguard, all three experts told BI.
Instead, people with “softer skills” such as communication and diplomacy make more effective bodyguards, Bomberg said. Multiple languages also help, given the company’s international work — some of the firm’s employees speak four languages.
“Some people in the industry make the mistake of assessing the quality of someone by the figure on the scales,” said Graeme Dyson, a bodyguard and manager at Intelligent Protection who previously worked as a counter-terror police officer.
“This doesn’t happen with other professions — no one judges their doctor’s skills by how tall they are or what they weigh and this should be the same for a professional bodyguard.”
“Celebrities in particular like to attract attention to themselves by overtly using bodyguards like these. However, when it all goes wrong, and they need a different level of protection and professionalism, it is companies like Intelligent Protection that they come to for help and advice.”
Flexibility is key, even if it means you end up in weird situations (some involving pigs).
Officers had to swim with Exuma pigs on a recent job.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty
Protection tasks can be “frustrating,” as officers spend hours planning an event only for everything to change at the last minute, Dyson said.
“Some of the clients you look after lead very chaotic lives and you need to be able to adjust to not being in control of where you are, who you are with, how long you’re staying and where you’re going next,” he said. “Flexibility, adaptability and being able to think on your feet” are key.
For instance, a Middle Eastern royal ruined detailed security plans for a restaurant meal by changing his booking at the last second.
Dyson also joined a team earlier this summer in Exuma — a collection of islands in the Bahamas where two James Bond movies were shot.
They had to pose as tourists because their mission was to protect their clients without them realising. They ended up swimming with pigs and sharks, travelling by powerboat and jet ski, and even snorkeling to stay incognito.
“It doesn’t get much more surreal than that,” Polly Wilton, another bodyguard who was on the trip, told BI.
Know that clients’ lifestyles are going to be like nothing you’ve seen before.
Intelligent Protection worked with Miranda Kerr at Magnum’s event at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015.Andreas Rentz/Getty
Being a bodyguard to billionaires, royals and celebrities offers a glimpse into their lifestyles — for better and for worse.
“You have an insight into how multi-million-pound companies work and the influential circles they move in,” said Wilton, who served in the British Army before joining Intelligent Protection.
“When protecting UHNWI [ultra-high net worth individuals] you have exposure to their unique lifestyles and the vast difference to what normality is to them.”
“I always advise people coming into this [protection] industry to remember that the client’s lifestyle is not their lifestyle,” Dyson said. “I have seen a few people ruined by trying to keep up with a client who is financially completely out of their league.”
Some bodyguards might “get used to going to good restaurants and eating expensive food, staying in the best hotels,” he added. “Some begin to think that is their lifestyle and not the clients’, and try and do the same thing when they are not working and bankrupt themselves.”
“Some clients are shockingly horrible. One early on in my protection career, when he was in a bad mood, sacked people on the spot because he didn’t like their socks,” he also said.
“Others are really considerate and come across as very genuine, decent people no matter their fame or wealth.”
Despite the stress, the job has it perks from time to time: Dyson ended up as an extra on the “Sherlock” TV show while looking after Benedict Cumberbatch, and had dinner with “Monty Python” cast members on another job, he told BI.
Dyson appears behind Cumberbatch in the bottom-right photo.
Men aren’t necessarily more effective bodyguards than women.
Polly Wilton working at the NATO Ambassador’s residence in Kabul in 2009, as part of the Royal Military Police at the time.Courtesy of Polly Wilton
Protection services are still a “male-dominated industry,” Wilton said, perpetuated by “the old cliché that men are stronger than women.”
But the demand for female bodyguards has been increasing over the past few years: The Duchess of Cambridge, David Cameron, Tony Blair, JK Rowling, and Beyoncé all have female bodyguards, author Robert Ryan recently pointed out The Times newspaper.
“UHNWI are becoming more security wary. With the increased use of social media, them and their families are more exposed,” Wilton said. Female bodyguards look less imposing and thus draw less attention to the people being protected, she added.
Bodyguards with large, imposing figures “actually draw attention to the clients and put them at more stress and risk,” bodyguard Lisa Baldwin told The Times. “In a playground I just look like a friend or a nanny, especially if I dress down.”
Lone females and clients with children tend to request female bodyguards in their protection teams, Wilton said. Baldwin also noted that Muslim families who prefer that women not mix too closely to men may also prefer female officers.
If there’s one advice we can take from bodyguards, it’s this: Always be prepared for attacks and disasters. They can happen to anyone.
Disasters can happen to anyone, so it’s important for normal people to be prepared and vigilant too, the bodyguards said.
“The world is changing,” Bomberg said. “The rise of global terror groups such as ISIS has meant that you are not even safe on a beach vacation in the Mediterranean, drinking coffee in Paris or at a concert in London.”
Attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils last week killed fifteen people, and injured at least 126. Earlier this month, former MI5 chief Lord Evans also said Britain could face 20 to 30 more years of terrorist threats, and al Qaeda published a guide teaching its followers how to derail trains in Europe and America.
“Everyone should have a basic understanding of first aid, be able to perform CPR, control bleeding and apply a tourniquet,” Dyson said.
“Just those basics alone could save your life, the life of a loved one or a stranger in the case of a traffic accident, an accident at work or a terrorist incident.”