When Affluent Families Move: 4 Considerations for Their Security Directors

Marc Debrody

Recently, we were asked to advise the security director responsible for the safety of a billionaire and his family as they shifted their primary residence from a major East Coast city to a rural suburb of a small Southern town.

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Recently, we were asked to advise the security director responsible for the safety of a billionaire and his family as they shifted their primary residence from a major East Coast city to a rural suburb of a small Southern town. Most security directors for wealthy families are engaged by the principal or their family office directors based on their domain knowledge in areas that range from executive protection, residential security, and travel security to technical security systems and guard services.

Few security directors, however, have presided over the complexity and planning required to ensure a wealthy family’s seamless and safe transition to a new home. It’s one thing to own two homes or move between the two. But complexity mounts very quickly when you consider families with (1) more than two homes, (2) multiple assets (e.g., homes, cars, art, jewelry), (3) members with different lifestyles, preferences and requirements, (4) prominence that generates adverse publicity or threats, and (5) an international scope of travel, business or recreation.

While not all affluent families confront the same level of planning complexity as the family above, I wanted to briefly highlight four critical issues that a family security director – and, in some cases, a family office director – should be prepared to address.

  1. Integration of Technology, Systems + Equipment
    This is a very important priority anytime a large family owns several properties and moves back and forth between them. For instance, let’s say you have a primary home in California with security systems related to access control, intrusion detection, perimeter security and video surveillance. Then you add another primary or secondary home in a different state or country. You want to have a fairly high level of consistency and integration for key factors such as system coverage, data, alerts and centralized communication. This is also true for effective security risk management, timely response and cost efficiencies.
  2. Access to Emergency Services
    If a family originated from a major city, they probably had access to excellent medical experts, hospitals and health care, which are advantages that may not be available in most rural communities. Key issues include matters like proximity to fire, medical and EMS facilities as well as the availability of specialists, particularly if a family member has special needs. Traditionally, urban environments have a stronger, faster response than you can expect in a rural environment where, for example, one sheriff deputy’s jurisdiction covers 30 square miles.
  3. Security Management + Personnel
    Many private client household staff include trusted security personnel who know the family and have supported them for a long time. If the family’s new or additional residence is located in other state, what do you plan to ask of them? Will you relocate them or hire an additional team in the new location? This issue has particular relevance for your on-site security manager who should not be expected to travel back and forth between two locations without risking operational gaps, errors or inefficiencies in proper security coverage.
  4. Publicity, Transparency + Risk
    Is the expected move public knowledge? Are family members divulging the news or other information online, in social media posts or to individuals outside the family’s inner circle? Is the new home purchased in the family’s name and therefore subject to public records search. Or has it been acquired in the name of a corporation with private records established for this purpose?

Planning Drives Strategic Family Risk Management

As we share with our clients every day, details make the difference. The chain of security protecting their loved ones are only as secure as the weakest link. Prevention is the best approach and that takes strategic planning, risk-based analysis and careful integration of people, process, and technology on a continuous basis.

Jensen Hughes has advised and protected the wealthiest and most private families in the world. We can help properly identify all risks associated with your move while minimizing the threats and vulnerabilities. Learn more about our Private Client and Family Office services.

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About the author

Marc Debrody
Marc brings a distinguished career of 28 years in federal and local law enforcement, having recently retired as a supervisory special agent from the Secret Service.

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