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Security's Worth Measured in Pounds

​A SURVEY OF 4,000 EU SECURITY PROFESSIONALS, conducted by SSR Personnel (a U.K. recruitment services firm), finds that wages in general are up 3 percent for respondents. That’s low compared to an overall 60 percent increase for the survey period 2002 to 2008 but an improvement over the 2009 and 2010 surveys, which found wages stagnant.

Of those surveyed in 2011, the largest group were national security heads (comprising 33 percent). They are responsible for all physical aspects of corporate security, with budget responsibility in the range of £2 million to £10 million and making an average in the range of £40,000 to £100,000. Chief security officers (CSOs), who set policy across the enterprise, give executive board briefings, and have budget responsibility of £30+ million (an elite group comprising only 2.5 percent of respondents), make from £90,000 to £235,000.

Within the top three pay grades of organizations, basic salaries have increased by up to 25 percent. That includes CSOs as tier one; Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) heads, in charge of regional policy development and executive reporting, among other duties, with budget responsibility of £10 million to £30 million, as tier two; and EU heads, with duties akin to those of EMEA heads but with smaller budgets to oversee, as tier three.

Wages are only part of the story. Increasingly, top CSOs qualify for the highest level of corporate bonuses, over and above their own personal bonus. The average personal bonus paid in 2011 to CSOs will be in the 35 to 50 percent range, as against 20 percent in 2010. Additionally, the corporate bonus pool can be up to 100 percent of salary, which takes the total remuneration package for European based CSOs to in excess of £400,000 (€555,000) per annum for the 90th (top 10th) percentile. National security heads are seeing bonuses of 15 to 60 percent. Even middle- and lower-level EU security professionals, including senior investigators, headquarters security managers, and regional investigators, can see bonuses from 10 to 30 percent.

Findings are based on a comprehensive pay and bonus survey of European security professionals, supplemented by in-depth interviews of CSOs in manufacturing, engineering, retailing, transportation, financial services, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, utilities, and the insurance sector to identify their areas of concern.

Security professionals who understand what concerns are occupying business executives and develop skills to address those concerns are likely to fare best in terms of careers and remuneration. Top concerns revealed by this year’s survey interviews centered around the need to operate globally, to control risk, and to be budget savvy.

For example, security departments benefit if they can provide in-house due diligence capabilities to assist companies with their merger and acquisition activity. Also, it’s a plus to have multilingual business intelligence skills; analysts with the latter are paid £50,000 to £75,000 per annum, and they are seeing increases of 15 percent over last year.

With regard to risk reduction, security departments that can show value for service will get resources. As one CSO remarked, “We have now convinced our CEO that when measured on the likelihood of criminal operations against our companies, we could be losing £350 million a year. For the first time, the security functions are being fully resourced, and we have greater impact on how audit and testing are undertaken.”

Cutting loss is one side of the budgetary coin. Saving through efficiency is the other. CSOs interviewed said that CEOs appreciate it when the security department takes on additional services in recessionary times, and their appreciation translates into bigger annual bonuses. Also as part of the effort to save money, 40 percent of respondents say that in the past two years they had reinvented processes to give security a more business-oriented agenda.

Security departments are also more involved with other company functions: 30 percent say they have increased oversight in compliance and audit through embedding a security leader in the relevant function; 57 percent of respondents now have oversight through legal counsel for all intellectual property protection. It is the CSOs with these broadened responsibilities that end up in the 90th percentile of their professional pay scale.

The consistent message for security professionals in general is that they should focus on enterprise risk management, with the C-suite perspective in mind. If there is not C-suite visibility, the security message is lost—and so are you.

Peter French, CPP, MBE (Member of the British Empire), is managing director of SSR® Personnel, based in the United Kingdom. It is the largest recruitment consultancy dedicated to the security, fire, health, and safety sectors operating in 20 countries around the world. French is also the chair of the European Advisory Council for ASIS International in Europe, a position he has held since 2008.