“Treat your customer as you want to be treated as a customer” – Catherine Pulsifer
Dear Readers, welcome to the concluding part of my take on how we can partner security guards in risk management, especially in financial institutions.
Unexpected Feedbacks – The Telephone Call
Guess what? I received a telephone call from a gentleman last week, who introduced himself as a security guard in a financial institution. Although he spoke in a guarded tone, he got quite emotional as he narrated the bad experiences he was having as a security guard in his organisation.
Apparently, last week’s article had awakened some hurtful feelings in him about his duty as a security guard. I listened quietly as he explained how he had not been paid for the past two months, even though he has been accompanying the cash collection team regularly. I tried to encourage him to continue discussing his problems with his manager, whom he alleges claimed that the situation was above him. After all, awareness-creation is the first step in risk management. I always refer to complaints as gifts in disguise.
Mr. Security Guard, you did not tell me your name and organisation and I did not ask because of the need for confidentiality. However, I say “bless you” and thanks for the message. On this note, I urge managers of that institution to beware – silence does not always mean consent or satisfaction with the status quo! Sometimes it can be that a time-bomb is ticking away, ready to explode! A hungry man is an angry man.
The Dangers surrounding Bad Nuts among Security Guards
Let us look at some of the dangers that bad nuts facing similar situations can put the institution into. For purposes of illustration, I will exaggerate some of the events that can occur. I am not revealing any secrets, but these are common realities on the ground.
- The guard can inform fraudsters about operations of the bank and facilitate an unexpected attack on the bank staff in the evening just before closing time………especially when the vault is still open.
- They know which teller is handling what currency and is stocked with plenty of cash at any point in time. Teller supervisors, are you listening? Are you checking to know which teller is keeping too much money in the drawer?
- They know the route and timing of the cash van and when the police guard is not at post or has dropped off to return to base – obviously leaving the team in a vulnerable state.
- They can cover up absences of police guards and share their allowance with them. After all, they are armed. A popular Ghanaian artist in his song says, “money no be problem”. Good for him, but – in reality – money is king when the wife needs her “chop money” – whether he has been paid or not.
- They can steal valuables from customers’ cars or remove parts from the company’s fleet of cars at night.
- Do you know they can even drive the unlabelled company cars at night, cruising with their girlfriends! God help them when the car gets involved in an accident!
- They can notify fraudsters by phone when customers withdraw bulk cash and put it in their car boots. After all, they are the same persons who are supposed to be recording car registration numbers, models and colours!
- They can take advantage of stranded ATM users at night, spy on their pin-codes and dupe them with the connivance of fraudsters. Can you imagine what will happen if a forgetful customer leaves his/her ATM card in the machine and drives off in a hurry? If a bad nut is around, within the twinkling of an eye a withdrawal can take place before it is captured by the machine.
Good Security Guards Go the Extra Mile
It’s not as bad as you think. Don’t forget, as a risk management person I need to use global experiences to make you aware that all around the world people-risks are real. It is how we manage them that matters. Now let’s look at a few good things that security guards can do as part of their function:
- Very observant and vigilant. Hold it! I know you will say that its part of their duty to be vigilant. What I mean is that some security guards are very helpful when the bank is in a tight corner:
- Assisting the loan recovery team to look for some customers…You know they can be very friendly with some customers and may know more about them than you, the banker.
- Assist to apprehend a fraudster in the banking hall or the premises, obviously with help from the police guard on duty. Don’t forget, some are ex-servicemen.
- They have their own KYC tactics which they use in their own ‘risk profiling’ of visitors and customers.
- They greet and acknowledge staff and customers.
- Occasionally you can have a caring security guard check up on you by calling you when you are absent from duty! That’s great, it shows that because you care, he or she also cares about you.
- They can quietly give tip-offs about suspicious characters or customers that a bank needs to be wary of.
- They can advise staff or customers about security issues and valuables left open for people to be tempted.
- They ensure monitoring of internal staff who report to the office after business hours or weekends…. After all, there was a case of a security guard who connived with an ATM custodian in a bank to steal money from the ATM-room during weekends.
- Good security guards ensure all occurrences are documented in their register whether it involves a staff or not…. Can you imagine the case of a bank being robbed at midnight on an occasion when the police guard was not on duty and the CCTV system was faulty! None of these had been written in the register. There was something in the soup!
Calls for a Safety Check
The security service providers have their codes and ethics of the profession, and I respect them for that. I only want to advocate a more mutually beneficial relationship based on my observation that guards are among the lowest paid in the system. I have no facts to back it up, but it is my sincere wish that we re-evaluate the function of such persons in financial institutions and other sensitive installations. Perhaps a review of the following may suffice:
- The job roles and functions as stipulated in the outsource agreement.
- The recruitment process of the main outsource company.
- The institution’s involvement in the recruitment process. Are banks supposed to allow any Tom, Dick or Harry to guard its property and people just because the person appears in the security company’s uniform? Obviously not!
- The age and medical fitness of guards is important. There are occasions when the service provider concentrates purely on pensioned personnel from the security services. Some are really medically unfit for the role and end up sitting at one place most of the time.
- Do we make a background check on them even after they are recruited? Some are dismissed staff from the security services or are planted there for a hidden agenda. They may be planted there to facilitate a “D-Day operation”.
- Some have no medical compensation from their companies, although it may be stipulated in their service conditions.
- Some are illiterates with no experience and would therefore welcome any stipend to make ends meet.
Using Relationship building in Partnership with Security Guards – The Ultimate Risk Management Tip
Using relationship building, I advocate the following tips in building a mutually satisfying experience for both staff and security guards:
- Appreciate the role of security guards as partners. As I said earlier, they also do their own risk-profiling of visitors and customers and can share their apprehensions and good feelings about their encounters with you.
- The security guard is actually the first point of contact with clients. A good encounter facilitates transactions. You have a good feeling even before entering the bank. Bad experiences make clients vent their anger on the front-liners.
- When there is a change of internal policy that affects their work, please inform them and solicit their cooperation.
- Don’t forget the small end of year appreciation to them. It’s not the amount or quantity but the thought that matters. After all, they also carry the bags of rice, canned drinks, hampers, and other gifts that customers bring to the banks during Christma…Hmmmm. Please remember if the “Gift” becomes a bribe, one day they will be called as witnesses! Oh…It’s only a joke, so don’t misquote me.
- I remember that one day, the keen eyes of security guards and drivers helped a bank loan recovery team identify a defaulting customer, who was apprehended and the funds recovered.
Please enjoy your partnership with your security guard. They are your internal customers. They can save your career and even your life one day, as we saw in last week’s article. Stay blessed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of two books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story”. She uses her experience and practical case studies for training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.