By Clement Chew, Managing Director, Atlas Risk & Consulting Solutions Ltd.

The status quo in terms of protective services in Southeast Asia is divided into at least two schisms.

The first group are multinational corporations which are aware of international standards and who are also very familiar with the quality of training and service that is expected in developed countries, both in the Western and Eastern hemisphere. These types of companies will typically demand internationally accredited qualifications and first aid certificate to accompany the portfolios of their close protection operatives (CPs). They are also aware of the “going rate” in terms of private security contracting internationally.

The second group are regional-owned companies who have limited experience on protective services on an international scale. Their perceptions of protection, perhaps stem from that of TV-shows and movies, where the daily life of a protective services officer consists of multiple shootouts ending with a hostage rescue situation.

Their expectations may differ slightly – the word “bodyguard” is sometimes spoken with derision when it comes to local culture; it is seen as a low-skilled job reserved for individuals with little to no education, accompanied by as little ambition to progress their career.


"Local companies therefore sometimes may not see the benefits of paying a good rate for good close protection operatives on the supposition that there is an inelasticity of price on quality. They feel that an increase of pay will not positively affect the quality of protection."


This makes it especially difficult for internationally accredited protective security firms to do business with local businesses who have not experienced a high-quality protection.

Special attention must also be paid to the expectations and the budget of each company or individual.

Where there is a specific threat to the principal, MNCs with a presence in Southeast Asia usually possess a higher level of competency in terms of risk assessments within their internal security apparatus. Well trained and equipped security personnel are able to correctly identify the needs of the firm and are able to distribute resources appropriately for the protection of their staff.

One must also not discount the fact that MNCs are usually allocated a substantially higher budget for security compared to local companies. This makes it easier for these companies to pay more for higher quality.


The demand for UK accredited CP services has always been present in Southeast Asia. Insurance policies of MNCs operating in the region as well as internal policies of these companies will usually dictate, that protection officers fulfil some form of training which is accredited or certified by a Western government or organisation; with UK-based companies usually requesting that an SIA (Security Industry Authority) recognised or equivalent qualification is held by any contractors or individuals looking to be retained or contracted by these businesses.

In the past, MNCs who wished to send key members of staff to this region had two options. The first option being, sending one of their UK/US operatives to accompany their VIPs to Southeast Asia, incurring a substantial cost of travel, daily sustenance as well as “hardship” allowance which is commonly requested. The advantage of this option is that these operatives are qualified to the UK system and give the “peace of mind” to these organisations that they are able to discharge their duties to the fullest of their training according to the UK government system.

The second option which they could undertake, was the use of local operatives native to the region, but whom did not possess any qualifications which were otherwise accredited internationally. Whilst there is no doubt that a number of them are very competent, some of them had even attended training by other local organisations; different clients require different sets of skills and qualifications.


"If a UK company operates in and around Southeast Asia, their internal security as well as health and safety policies would most likely be focused around the UK system – this may lead to these firms looking favourably upon agencies whose officers possess a qualification which is recognised by their own system."


As an example, a UK-based company sends a prominent member of staff to Southeast Asia, and their insurance policy requires them to provide protection with better or of a similar level to the UK’s system. In the past, with no option of hiring UK qualified operatives, the company would have hired local guards with no UK qualifications.

However, with the option now being presented to them – these companies are able to take advantage of local operatives possessing the same UK qualifications at a good rate, but without the hassle of paying for flights, visas, hardship allowances and many other hidden costs which arise when traveling.

The wage rate, of course, for these accredited operatives are significantly higher than that of unqualified operatives, with rates ranging from USD120 to USD300 per day depending on the nature of the job, the client and the operative’s skills and experience.


In order to acquire the UK-accredited certification (technical name: - RQF Level 3 Working as a Close Protection Operative in the Security Industry), two options are available to the aspiring bodyguard:

  • Fly over to the United Kingdom and undertake the course at a reputable training centre. Multiple training centres exist in the UK, which all offer the course to anyone wanting to become a UK-accredited close protection officer.
  • Undertake the course in regional centres offering the qualification in Thailand and Malaysia. Atlas Risk and Consulting Solutions is a Malaysian owned, fully licensed centre who offer the course alongside other internationally accredited qualifications in Southeast Asia.

However, unlike other training centres who set up shop in Southeast Asia for a course and then disappear back to the UK, Atlas also deploys graduates in jobs in and around the region should their skills and experience prove appropriate for client needs, as well as provides suitable recommendations and referrals for individuals seeking work in companies of their choosing.


To join the team, it is not just about qualifications and experience – a good operative should possess the following traits in addition to the UK qualification:

  • Proficiency in Spoken and Written English
  • A humble but assertive attitude
  • Skills in the use of mobile and radio technology

Most importantly, an operative must have integrity and grit in terms of personal traits. Clients trust a close protection services provider to be discreet before, during and after jobs with them – it is what keeps companies such as Atlas in business.

There will be stringent vetting on all potential protection officers even before they register themselves for courses.

Whilst there is little information on the value of bodyguarding within Southeast Asia, a close protection officer can earn an average of USD2,000 to USD2,500 a month (sometimes even more) running both ad-hoc and permanent close protection jobs.

A number of Atlas graduates have also sought and successfully gained employment in the security departments of both local and international firms.

It is important to note that there is no guarantee of jobs after graduation – similar to when individuals pay up to USD10,000 a year to go to university, but have no guarantee of jobs once they receive their Bachelor of Arts.

Graduates will be able to apply for any positions within the region and overseas with their UK qualifications – provided they fit the rest of the requirements which their clients demand. There is hope that the standards of close protection may rise within Southeast Asia, with the introduction of British standards into the region.

To find out more, visit https://www.atlascorps.co.uk