“Private security business needs to be governed by separate law”

  11 min 2 sec to read
“Private security business needs to be governed by separate law”

Mahesh Shrestha
Managing Director, G4S Security Services Nepal

G4S Security Services Nepal is the largest private security solutions firm in Nepal with a presence spanning over two decades. The United Kingdom based multinational security services provider started operating in Nepal in 1996 through its subsidiary company. Established in 1901, G4S operates in 124 countries of the world. Since its inception, G4S Nepal has been providing various types of security services to its clients including diplomatic missions, government institutions, BFIs, hospitals, five-star hotels, commercial complexes, educational institutions, private residences, telecom service providers, hydropower plants and industrial facilities. The company also provides security for personal protection of VVIPs and premises protection during special events. In an interview with New Business Age, Mahesh Shrestha, Managing Director of G4S Security Services Nepal talks about the current security business situation, challenges and opportunities in the sector, future plans of the company, among other issues. Excerpts:

The presence of G4S in the country has spanned over two decades. What has the journey been like for your company in terms of growth and services?
It has been a wonderful experience for us. We faced different challenges and came across many opportunities over the years. Being a MNC, G4S is committed to the quality and effectiveness of its security services. 

We have an annual turnover of Rs 850 million and our target is to achieve the Rs 900 million mark this year. G4S has held the position of the largest security service company in Nepal in the last 20 years. We command 85 percent of the market share in the high-end, around 40 percent in the mid-end and around 25 percent in the low-end segments.         
Being the only security services solutions MNC in Nepal, how do you take your opportunities?
G4S is an opportunity itself for the people seeking international standards in security services.  We assure complete security solutions to our clients in complying with global standards. G4S is highly committed in terms of assuring and guaranteeing quality security services along with top level customer care, management response and operational arrangements for its clients. 

We have a very strong workforce comprising of 5,000 personnel which itself is an opportunity for many Nepalis from an employment perspective. We have 10 branch networks in major cities across the country. The branches are being operated in a full-fledged manner which includes providing training to new recruits. Similarly, we are also paying millions of rupees in revenue to the government. 

Gorkhalis are renowned the world over for their courage, honesty and trust in security services. In this regard, it is a matter of pride for G4S to be present in Nepal. 

How does G4S Security Services Nepal ensure top-end security to its clients?
We have a holistic approach in providing security services to our clients. We provide security services according to the needs of our clients. G4S Nepal has been offering integrated security solutions including manned security, cash security services, modern electronic safety systems and technology. Similarly, we have the secured support service where newly trained personnel are engaged in housekeeping works that include security of confidential documents in their first phase of duties. Meanwhile, we also provide security services for events, travel alongside transit and storage of valuable goods. 

We study the possible risks and prepare ourselves for future challenges. We also assess the risk management factors to minimise future losses. While providing services, we prepare rules for specific tasks first. After agreeing with clients, we prepare standard operating plans (SOPs) for the designated services. Different types of SOPs are developed for different clients and we retrain security personnel before deploying them on their respective duties.  

How is G4S moving ahead in terms of using new technology?
G4S believes in moving ahead adopting new technologies in order to provide versatile and efficient security services to its clients. We update ourselves with the new technology as soon as they are introduced in the market. We have created a separate department for the purpose. Modernising security systems is a global requirement and G4S is investing more in this aspect as well. Utilisation of new technologies is also important for a company like G4S to control unnecessary expenses.

The time now is all about electronic surveillance and security solutions.  What will be the future of manned security in this regard? 
Electronic security solutions are efficient in many ways. For instance, use of such systems is cost effective and surveillance and monitoring works can be done with ease. However, neither manned nor electronic security systems can replace each other.  Both types of security solutions complement each other. They have their own importance, benefits and limitations. The services that manned security provides are not fulfilled by electronic security and vice versa. 

How is the relationship between G4S Security Services Nepal and its parent company?
The global organisation has been helping us in a range of areas including training, capacity enhancement of security personnel and using new technology in security, among other things. We need to contact the parent company on a daily basis to submit management, finance, quality reports etc. The head office appoints the country director. We need to report on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and submit it to the global system. G4S from 124 countries around the globe keep data on it. The data we maintain on the global system can affect the share price of G4S in the London Stock Exchange. All branches are controlled by the head company. It is completely a group company.

How is G4S Nepal different from other companies in employee management?
We have been providing various benefits and perks to staff and security personnel. All employees are paid salaries in a timely manner and on the same date. They are entitled for provident fund and annual grades. People who leave the company are subjected to gratuity as well. The labour law has clearly mandated employers to provide benefits to the workers including a minimum salary and employment guarantee. We have been providing all these as required by the law. We are very aware in terms of following the law and maintaining the quality of our services. It clearly demonstrates our concern regarding the international brand and image of G4S.

G4S is a company of confidence for all its staffers and service seekers. According to the new Labour Act, employees are entitled for 45 days of paid leave annually.  We were providing an annual leave of 40 days to employees for many years even before the new law came into force a few months ago. Likewise, staff at G4S Nepal get festival leave of 16 days. Every staff working is entitled to insurance worth Rs 200,000. 

Many staff have stayed here for many years because of the excellent work environment and benefits. Over the years, many employees who started their career in the company as security personnel have been promoted to managerial level posts. 

How do you view the new Labour Act?  
The new Labour Act is a positive step for the security service business. The Act has guaranteed social security and other benefits to employees from the day they join the companies. The government has clearly mentioned the facilities and services to employees this time. I think effective implementation of the law will help to spur on healthy competition in the domestic security services market. There are many compliance related issues in this sector at present and security service companies who do not maintain good quality of service are likely to come under pressure from the provisions of the Act.

How can Nepali security service providers engage in healthy competition?  
Healthy competition will start and flourish when factors such as quality, ethics and professionalism become key parameters of competition among the players in the market. Unfortunately, many security companies in Nepal do not bother about these factors. If someone is engaged in unethical business practices, then how can there be fair competition? We are always guided by value-based practices in business.  

We do not consider any other company as our competitors. Many are not even providing a minimum salary as required by the law. So we do not even compare ourselves with them. 

What challenges do you see in the security services business?
 The scarce human resource is the major challenge here. Manpower is both raw and finished goods in the security business. Similarly, we don’t have a law to govern private security businesses.  Security service providers at present are simply guided by the Companies Act. Also, the awareness of security among the people is also relatively low. 

Lack of standardisation is another issue. Neighbouring India and countries like Dubai have standardised private security businesses. The government needs to conduct a rating of the companies that are working in the sector. It can be an important step in terms of standardisation of the security business as the companies can levy service charges from the clients according to the ratings. 

Similarly, government bodies in many countries provide proper training to the people who look to join the private security workforce. We don’t have such facilities here. Many companies in Nepal deploy untrained people as guards increasing the security risks to their clients and themselves as well.       

How do you ensure that the best security personnel join the workforce of G4S?   
Anyone looking to join our company as security personnel needs to possess a clean background. They are required to be physically and mentally and fit. The candidates should have a basic school education and also be capable of speaking English. We conduct written and oral tests. Those selected are sent for training which is of 80 credit hours. Only those who are able to pass the training are recruited. Similarly, we conduct refresher training courses every three months for new recruits. In the meantime, we also provide counsel and retrain the employees on a daily basis. We have set the retirement age of the security personnel at 55. G4S assures the quality of service in this way. 

We follow the international standards set by the global company while providing services and recruiting people. From training to supervision and service areas, we follow rules set by our parent organisation.

How is G4S planning to expand its services and enter new areas in the security business in the future?
We are conducting an in-depth study to expand our areas of work and increase investments. We are looking to provide high-end security services to BFIs such as alternative solutions and ideas for cash security. G4S globally has been providing these types of services for a long time. We have been constantly discussing with BFIs and the central bank to identify their needs and requirements in security. 

We seek to contextualise the services according to the local needs. The services we provide are not only a matter of business for G4S.  It is also a matter of contributing towards nation building directly or indirectly while doing business.  For instance, enhancing the skills of the workforce and quality of service is a top priority in G4S’s plans. It will add efficiency to our work and is also likely to have a national level impact. Nepal receives hundreds of billions of rupees in remittance yearly from the migrant workers many of who go abroad to work as security guards and it is necessary for us to focus on this aspect. By enhancing the skills of migrant workers and quality of service, Nepal can earn more money in remittance as the demand for Nepali workers will go up.

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