The UK's leading financial institutions are increasing their spend on security in a bid to quash heightened concerns about disasters, terrorist attack, employee negligence and IT security breaches. However, nearly 40% of security managers working in the sector still do not consider their organisations' disaster recovery plans to be 100% foolproof.
These were just two of the conclusions drawn from recent research into the financial community's attitude to, and deployment of, security by Reliance Security Services. The survey, conducted in February, discovered that nearly 50% of the financial community see disasters (48%) and terrorist attacks (41%) as 'extremely important' threats (the highest possible level of concern) to their business.
In order to deal with these threats, they are deploying a mixture of manned security services (100% of the sample), access control (96%) and electronic security (85%). Over the last year, they have increased spending in all three areas - CCTV technology (67% of the sample), access control (52%) and manned security (30%).
"What we are seeing is banks and other financial institutions reacting to a variety of both national and international factors including, of course, the current political climate and the events of 11 September," said Geoff Shewry, managing director of Reliance Security Services. "While the survey indicates that a large proportion of financial organisations are now placing a greater emphasis on electronic solutions (56%), their spending on manned security services is also on the up. This emphasises the fact that the manned security sector has a very vital role to play in the general movement towards total, integrated security solutions."
The survey revealed that there was a continued demand for manned security services, with quality of service considered vital, and regulation welcomed as a step towards achieving this.
Despite indicating an increased movement towards electronic solutions, the survey revealed that nearly 60% of financial organisations would not consider using security technology to reduce their dependence on manned security at night. The main reason for this is that security officers are responsible for controlling access outside of normal working hours (33% of respondents). The survey also found that security officers are becoming indispensable by fulfilling a much wider range of roles including reception duties (70%), electronic surveillance (41%), building management (37%) and access control (52%).
Another interesting trend is the huge extent to which financial organisations value the quality of security personnel. 67% of respondents consider the calibre of an organisation's security officers as 'extremely important' when selecting a supplier. Service levels (56%), customer empathy (31%) and health and safety training (26%) were also singled out as 'extremely important', outweighing price (only 22% of the sample said this was 'extremely important'). 96% of the sample also agreed that their security officers are fully trained in how to react in the event of a disaster/terrorist attack. Not surprisingly, 81% of those surveyed also said they are in favour of regulation of the manned security sector, suggesting that they see this as a big step towards raising standards within the security industry for both customers and security employees alike.