Understanding Physical Security Needs for the Financial Sector

November, 2019


According to the 2018 Annual Crime Report by the National Police Service, theft, breakings and robberies contributed to a total of 27 per cent of crimes recorded in 2018 in Kenya. This greatly underscores that physical security cannot be ignored or assumed in as much as the focus is centred on technology-related crimes such as fraud.

In the financial sector, physical security is important because banking premises attract two kinds of risk; the risk of people and that of money. The financial sector is a critical national infrastructure that contracts more than 5000 guards and more than 1500 armed policemen guarding cash-in-transit. While this is so, challenges are facing the financial sector when it comes to physical security services.

Speaking during the Security Conference for Financial Institutions organised by the Kenya Institute of Bankers; SGA CEO and Chairman Julius Delahaije noted that one of the challenges include the standardisation of security services to financial institutions. While the Central Bank of Kenya provides guidelines, there is a need to formalise and standardize rules such as certification, quality checks, audit on compliance among other factors. With numerous private security firms, standardisation of services is critical.

Another challenge the sector faces is understanding the role of the security firm. There is need for financial institutions to have a long-term view while considering a security provider and not only focus on the cost-saving element.

“Financial institutions must look beyond the value of the contract and have other considerations such as value-add given, quality of services, compliance and risk assessment of the security firm, adequate resources and staff, training and competence, latest technology in use and statutory compliance,” noted Delahaije. “We must shift the mindset of evaluating security in terms of quantity and have a quality-driven approach,” he added.

There is need to better regulate the private security sector. A regulatory framework will guide the execution of services for many sectors including the financial sector. Conversations within this space have begun with the proposed Private Security General Regulations 2019.

The industry cannot also ignore that the evolution of technology is here with us. Innovative technologies in the security space such as face recognition, geo-fencing among others will affect the execution of security services in this sector. This will require a proactive approach because security is not a stand-alone job and conversations among various players will need to be held with regard to regulation, awareness and compliance.

Delahaije also noted that to improve how physical security is offered within the financial sector today, close cooperation and coordination is necessary with the external security providers, agreed-upon protocols and operating procedures, exchange of best banking and security practices and allow for external detailed risk assessments with mitigation plans.

In attendance was also the Chairman of the Kenya Bankers Association Security Committee Joel Kiarie who called for better collaborations among financial sector players, security providers and the National Police. “The Kenya Bankers Association plays an important role in taking lead in the discussions and influencing the regulations to better manage the security concerns in our industry,” he noted.

On the other hand, the Kenya Police Director of Operations Henry Barmau urged the sector to conduct regular assessments of bank establishments, adopt technology in the provision of security and conduct proper background checks of bank and private security employees.

The three-day security conference was officially opened by The Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge and attracted key players in the financial sector.