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Where are all the security consultants?

NZ Security Magazine, Feb/Mar 2018

Is the ‘traditional’ security consultant still fit for purpose? Image: Quevaal.Is the ‘traditional’ security consultant still fit for purpose? Image: Quevaal.

 

The market’s requirements of consultants have changed dramatically in recent years, and the profession doesn’t seem to be keeping up. Editor Nicholas Dynon asks, are we facing a consulting crisis?

 

Security consulting isn’t what it used to be. With consultant opportunities seemingly drying up, the numbers of professional consultants shrinking, contracted jobs evaporating, and consultant vacancies disappearing, it could be argued that the outlook for the traditional security consultant is less than rosy.

For those looking to utilise their security consulting skills in corporate security management roles, employers appear to be increasingly advertising positions that require IT/cyber security skills in addition to physical security – skills that most consultants are unlikely to possess.

For independent security consultants, the continuing 'race to the bottom' by providers within the security industry is resulting in fewer consultant engagements as companies look to cut expenses by bringing consulting in-house.

Added to this the encroaching DIY market for residential and SME physical security. With big increases in sales of consumer surveillance systems from retailers such as PB Technology and Bunnings, the strange irony is that although more people than ever are taking active steps to invest in the security of their assets, they’re less willing than ever to pay for security advice.

“The Protective Security Requirements (PSR) and new Health and Safety legislation have placed additional focus around business risk, continuity of service delivery and responsibilities,” NZSA CEO Gary Morrison told NZSM, “however it is difficult to see a significant change to the security consulting field in the near future.

Gary concurs that the requirements for security consultants has changed over recent years and that there has been a reduction in the number of specialist security consultants in the market.

“The larger consulting firms are predominantly working with government agencies around the PSR whilst traditional consulting functions, such as security reviews and risk assessments, are being conducted either in-house or by the contracted security provider,” he said.

“It is also noticeable that there is a continued slow uptake across the available security consulting related qualifications including the National Certificate in Security Level 6, the ASIS CPP and PSP qualifications and the NZSA's Security Consultant National Certificate in Competence, and that those who are undertaking the training are predominantly existing security practitioners looking to up-skill rather than new entrants to the market.

The lack of training uptake and the explosion in DIY has amounted to a brain drain that has been reinforced, observed Gary, in “the availability of what was once specialist knowledge via google and on-line references.”

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“Quick checks will provide a number of templates, how to guides and reference tools that will often meet the perceived business need and at minimal cost. The old adage that you get what you pay for does however remain true and the loss of expert knowledge does impact on the quality of the output – unfortunately this is often only found out when things go wrong.

The adage isn’t lost on Dean Kidd, Chair of ASIS’ New Zealand Chapter. Dean told NZSM that a look down the roll of security professionals listed on the ASIS website is the only sure-fire way of ensuring that you’re dealing with a consultant who knows their stuff.

“If you put the ASIS accreditations against the other qualifications available,” Dean said, “the difference is that the ASIS CPP ensures continual learning is achieved. You complete the CPP, and then over a three-year period you have to achieve enough points in order to maintain your accreditation. It ensures currency of skills.”

Clearly, the expectations placed by the market on security consultants have changed, and issues such as cyber encroachment and low qualifications uptake suggest that perhaps the ‘traditional’ security consultant is no longer fit for purpose. On the other hand, perhaps security consultants are just as – if not more – needed than previously… it’s just that the market has convinced itself it can do without them.

In the following articles that make up this special ‘security consultant’ feature, we are joined by eminently qualified contributing writers James Yearsley of ICARAS Consultants and Craig Bidois of FearFree Ltd, and we feature a frank and broad-ranging ‘State of the Industry’ interview with Risq NZ’s Bruce Couper.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Independent advice ensures security solutions that target the risks

NZ Security Magazine, Feb/Mar 2018

Contrary to recent reports, physical security is not dead

NZ Security Magazine, Feb/Mar 2018

INTERVIEW: State of the industry with RISQ New Zealand

NZ Security Magazine, Feb/Mar 2018

 

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