The role of the security guard as partners in risk management (1)

ONCE UPON A TIME: the relevance of history in risk management (final)
Alberta Quarcoopome

“Too many security officers live day to day. They just want to be treated with dignity” —John Wilson 

Dear Readers, please read this post carefully. It went viral on social media a  few yeara ago. After reading it, I started feeling guilty about some of the issues involved because most of us are guilty. As usual, I will like to take it up from the side of risk management. The shared message goes like this:

 This lady worked at a meat distribution factory. One day, when she finished with her work schedule, she went into the meat cold room (Freezer) to inspect something, but in a moment of misfortune, the door closed and she was locked inside with no help in sight. Although she screamed and knocked with all her might, her cries went unheard as no one could hear her. Most of the workers had already gone, and outside the cold room it’s impossible to hear what was going on inside.

Five hours later, whilst she was at the verge of death, the security guard of the factory eventually opened the door. She was miraculously saved from dying that day. She later asked the security guard how he had come to open the door, which wasn’t his usual work routine.

His explanation: “I’ve been working in this factory for 35 years, hundreds of workers come in and out every day, but you’re one of the few who greets me in the morning and says goodbye to me every night when leaving after work. Many treat me as if I’m invisible. Today, as you reported for work, like all other days, you greeted me in your simple manner ‘Hello’. But this evening after working hours, I curiously observed that I had not heard your “Bye, see you tomorrow”. Hence, I decided to check around the factory. I look forward to your ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ every day because they remind me that I am someone.

By not hearing your farewell today, I knew something had happened. That’s why I was searching everywhere for you and I knew it was God who remembered me of your greetings hmm ma sister God has really saved your life by your deeds.

Lady cried out praising God. (Deacon Richard Stanard, Englewood, NJ, USA)”

That was a close shave and we thank God for her life.  As a banker, how do you relate to the Security Guards in your office? Assuming you got stuck in the lift, late in the night when most staff have left, with no mobile phone on you to call the Guard or friend for help. The Security Guard may not be aware of your predicament since everybody else quietly uses the lift and goes home. 

Who is a Security Guard?

There’s a common misconception between security guards and peace officers. Peace officers are law enforcement officers provided by the state whose duty is to enforce the law and preserve the public peace.  Security guards are crime, threat and risk prevention officers assigned to protect specific people and property. This may include detecting some of the same offenses that would cause a peace officer to act, such as a fight or burglary. The security guard’s concern is to protect persons and prevent damage or destruction to property. PREVENTION is their watchword, and they act as a deterrent to crime, to watch for impending danger and to report crimes they may encounter.

The Role of a Bank Security Guard

The bank branch security guard is responsible for the security and protection of the bank’s employees and all assets. Depending on the bank, the guard may also be expected to enforce the company’s overall safety requirements.

Guards will need to stay alert to watch for potential threats to the safety of employees and customers. Bank branch security guards will also need to investigate any suspicious behavior among the customers or employees to safeguard the financial assets of the branch.

There are times when a disgruntled customer may become a threat, and the guard will need to diffuse the situation.
Guards may also be required to know and enforce bank safety regulations.

In the case of a robbery, the guard must know how to safeguard the customers and employees, and acts as a liaison between the police and the branch.

Being a bank branch security guard can be a dangerous occupation, as often banks, especially those in large metropolitan areas, are targets for robberies. Guards are often the first person the robbers want to disarm and disable.

Looking at the above functions typically expected of a security guard, let us ask ourselves this question. Do we honestly relate to them as members of staff of the bank? Until the late 1990’s, all security guards were permanent members of staff of the banks. During the period when banking halls were choked with long queues, one could come across a security guard trying to help an illiterate customer complete a deposit slip. They were inside the banking hall assisting with queue management and so on. They were knowledgeable about the bank’s policies and were part of staff durbars, meetings, etc.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Most security companies or banks require that their security guards be fully trained to handle all kinds of security-related threats that may arise while on the job. Branch bank security guards will need to be able to stay alert while on the job. Guards must be observant and be able to recognize a threat to the bank’s security, as well as be able to report suspicious or criminal behavior to the police and bank authorities. Guards must be friendly to customers and interact well with all branch employees.

The Current Reality on the Ground

For the past two decades, most banks have outsourced the security guard function, as a measure of cost-cutting. They are no more permanent members of staff of the banks. This policy has come with great improvement in cost reduction. On the other hand, it has created a “separation of feelings” between the staff and the guards, and sometimes lack of trust between the two parties. Some security guards do not have a sense of belonging and are quite withdrawn from the rest of the staff.

Let me pause here.. Next week, we shall examine more reality cases and explore how we can make them partners in risk management.

For more insights on this topic, please book a copy of my new book, “THE MODERN BRANCH MANAGER’S COMPANION” which involves the adoption of a multi-disciplinary approach in the practice of today’s branch management. It also shares invaluable insights on the mindset needed to navigate and make a difference in the changing dynamics of the banking industry. Call 0244333051 for your copy.


Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch manager’s Companion”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.



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