The Security Firms Protecting Wall Street Love the Protests

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Threatening toughs! Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

It's been boom times lately for the private security companies retained by Wall Street firms, thanks to Occupy Wall Street. It seems that Wall Street execs have decided to ignore the counsel of Andrew Ross Sorkin — who said they needn't fear for their safety — and have started to fret. But luckily, there's a way to throw money at the problem, and so many execs have decided to hire extra security.

The Times reports:


“We expect to more than double our revenue in New York this year,” said Paul M. Viollis, a co-founder of Risk Control Strategies, a firm that protects some of the top executives on Wall Street.

Another company, Insite Security, has gotten dozens of calls since the protests began and expects to increase its revenue at least 40 percent this year, according to Christopher Falkenberg, its chief executive. (In accordance with the industry’s code of secrecy, none of the security experts interviewed for this article provided client names.)

It feels like the golden days of 2008 all over again, when "executive protection" became really trendy among bank heads. Lehman Brothers even hired a bomb-sniffing dog named Bella. But the industry got its first big break in 2003 when Greenwich hedge-fund billionaire Edward S. Lampert was kidnapped and held in a motel's bathroom for two days, writes Kevin Roose of the Times.

Protection doesn't come cheap. One bodyguard can cost $200 an hour, but that's the very low-end stuff. For a full surveillance system at your home, it can run you up to $1.5 million. But some people still want more.


One executive contacted Insite requesting help planning his escape from the United States in the event the federal government was overthrown, said Howard A. Shapiro, Insite’s chief technology officer. The executive wanted to know how much gold to keep on hand and how to escape the United States by submarine in the event of a major incident.

“He was spending the majority of his wealth on security,” Mr. Shapiro said. “We don’t encourage that.”

They really are looking out for their clients!

Protests Are a Payday for Security Firms [NYT]