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Big Tech & Private Butlers Beef Up High-Net-Worth Individual Home Security

By Niamh Miller


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Wood and Brick Luxury Home
Designer; Studio Aiko

A long-term, strategic partnership between Google and leading security and home automation provider ADT has signified Silicon Valley’s intent to create the next generation of the helpful home, based on new security solutions that will better protect and connect people to their homes and families.

Devices, services, and human touch


While technological interventions such as these are all very well, many high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) are also adding well-trained, highly experienced butlers certified as close protection officers (CPOs) to their staff components, seeing to the highest level of home and family protection.

Many private butler jobs now call for security-trained and experienced individuals whose services extend way beyond the cliched, movie image of a bespoke-suited, tea tray-carrying, octogenarian household servant.

Often licenced by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and members of the International Guild of Professional Butlers, a private butler may also serve as a logistics coordinator, watch-keeper, emergency medical technician, first responder, and keyholder.

Sometimes referred to as a majordomo, which is typically the head servant or official in a wealthy household, butlers take care of a wide variety of services and housekeeping, such as wardrobe care; dry-cleaning; planning day-to-day business; seasonal cleaning; captaining staff meal preparation and clean up; preparing cocktails and serving dinner; cooking daily meals and stocking food and beverages; daily grocery shopping; overseeing the delivery of supplies; arranging tables, décor and providing services, and so on—the list is exhaustive!

Military-trained security confidantes stepping up

Elite Security

Butler and close protection team leader David Smith is equipped with qualifications such as a Level 5 Security Risk Management Consulting Certificate from City and Guilds in London, and a Full Front-Line Close Protection (CP) SIA badge. He brings security experience from war zones in Baghdad, Iraq, where he led armed security details ranging from eight to 40 team members for high-profile diplomatic clients.

Now a trusted home, family, and HNWI security confidante, Smith exhibits outstanding communication skills and a natural ability to build rapport with a wide variety of stakeholders. His duties extend to securing the daily tasks for a London-based HNWI family with children aged 12 and 14, one of whom suffers from severe Asperger’s syndrome.

He performs risk assessments and compiles mission packs for the family—comprising route and venue assessments, and vehicle details—compiles security kit and equipment, and surveys satellite imagery of routes and venues of social engagements.

“I have led operations in the Kurdistan area of Iraq for the Australian Embassy in the area, seeing thousands of protesters often raid the International Zone, with militia kidnappings prevalent and kinetic threats to Western diplomatic missions. On my watch, there were zero safety incidents, and I always stayed on-task with clients, delivering multiple mission briefings and escape plans for country-wide expeditions,” Smith reports.

Among his many tasks, Smith plans routes and chauffeurs the family members on outings, and serves as a close protection officer and medic on international travels. He maintains the family’s fleet of luxury vehicles, performs security reviews of their additional residences, captains various close circuit television (CCTV) and fire control systems, and designs safety plans and other physical countermeasures.

What’s more, he supervises contractors and multi-disciplined teams on- and off-site concurrently at various locations, logs and records all site visitors, and plans future visits. He also recruits other staff members and runs the 24/7 residence security team (RST).

A private butler such as David Smith may also organise day-to-day family events such as business meetings, school runs, social events, and conduct residence and facility security risk assessments. They have the capacity to write, review, and amend security standard operating procedures (SOPs) and protocols, and capture and store data via Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

Global smart home security market projected to display growth of 15.56% up to 2023

Ring home security system
Ring home security system

On the technology front, the smart camera and monitoring system industry sector is poised to grow at 6.3% per year to a value of $66.9 billion by 2026, according to a new market study published by Global Industry Analysts Inc., (GIA).

Fuelled by the stay-at-home COVID-19 crisis, the global market for electronic security systems (ESS) reached an estimated value of $45.8 billion in 2020, and CCTV and video surveillance systems are projected to grow at a 8.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $36.4 billion by 2026.

Much of this growth is owing to increased criminal activities—especially property crime—coupled with increasing safety and security concerns among consumers, and the increased availability of easy-to-install, DIY home security solutions.

Consumer safety and security preferences have evolved, contributing to a surge in connected luxury homes, and the growing HNWI population and increasing consolidation of market players across the globe are additionally driving growth.

North America accounts for the largest regional share of the market, attributed to the robust growth of the Internet of things (IoT), backed by escalating discretionary spending and a growing tech-savvy population— especially millennials.

The security technology market value in the U.S. is estimated to top out at $13.2 billion this year, while China— the world’s second largest economy—is forecast to reach a projected market size of $14.4 billion by 2026. Japan and Canada are showing strong growth, with the market in each country forecast to grow at 3.2% and 5.8% respectively. In Europe, Germany is forecast to grow at approximately 4% CAGR.

As far as access control systems are concerned, the U.S.A., Canada, Japan, China, and Europe will lead the 6.9% CAGR estimated for this segment and these markets accounted for a combined market size of $4.5 billion in 2020. China remains the fastest growing territory in this cluster.

Google teams with ADT in security solutions for millions of homes & small businesses

Google Nest Home Devices

For its part, Google has combined its Nest devices, services, and technology with ADT’s leadership position, boosting security solutions for millions of homes and small businesses. The partnership pairs more than 20,000 ADT professionals together with Nest’s portfolio of helpful home devices.

The company’s network of thousands of professional technicians will be able to sell and install devices like Nest Cameras and Nest Hub Max, all powered by Google Assistant. ADT customers will also have access to Nest Aware, a service that keeps people informed about important events at home, including intelligent alerts and event history recording for up to 30 days.

Google’s investment amounts to taking a $450 million stake in ADT, closing equity ownership of 6.6% of ADT’s outstanding aggregate common equity. “These investments show our collective commitment to evolve security through better technology and innovation. Together with ADT, we look forward to delivering a smarter, more secure, and helpful home,” Google said in a blog post.

Technological innovations such as this enhanced security monitoring, combined with high-level personal protection, make for a cornerstone of a secure, smart home. Some of the other vendors clambering for attention in this crowded market include AT and T, Comcast Corp., Honeywell International, Ooma, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, and Verizon Communications.

To leverage the current opportunities and help businesses improve their market position, market vendors are seeking to strengthen their foothold in the fast-growing segments, while maintaining their positions in the slow-growing segments.

More effective home monitoring afforded by the improving technology brings cost savings as insurance providers discount their offerings, and as an increasing number of households take up broadband, immense growth opportunities are expected. 33% of the market’s growth is likely to originate in North America, but the lack of standards for manufacturing security solutions is a factor anticipated to limit the market’s growth in the next few years.

Butlers equipped to take charge of security, risk, crisis, and disaster management


Unless controlled by a competent, well-trained, and dedicated individual, these technological interventions are all but useless; the head of an HNWI household certainly does not have the time and attention to take charge of the often-complicated security hardware, software, and services.

Butler and close protection team leader David Smith recounts how his Level 5 security risk management certificate prepared him to step into the breach and take charge of all areas of security, risk, crisis, and disaster management.

His training was delivered by experts from across the public, private, and voluntary sectors, including—among many other highly trained practitioners from a wide variety of disciplines—the head of an aviation security school, a former diplomat, a cyber security expert, a former diplomatic editor for Sky News and author, an elite team performance coach for a national rugby team, a security manager at Netflix, a travel safety program manager at Apple, the head of security at a private equity bank, and an award-winning war filmmaker and journalist.

“The course is designed with the wider security industry in mind and focuses on developing an understanding of where security and risk sits in a wider context,” says Smith. Some of the skills acquired include country threat and vulnerability assessment, journey management and evacuation planning, business communications, finance, and budget control, IT and cyber security, post-disaster recovery, detecting deception, influencing skills and eliciting information, personal branding and first impressions, principles of human rights, and kidnapping and ransom management.

Many calls for majordomo jobs contain a requirement for a college degree in business, finance, or estate management, and some large estates require an advanced degree in hotel and estate management. Certifications in human resource management are also advantageous and several years of experience in management roles in other industries may bring an added advantage.

A new estate manager in the U.S. with one to three years of experience earns an average of $82,380 per annum, while more highly experienced estate managers may earn between $110,500 and $120,352. Benefits such as free accommodation, health care, personal vehicle, telephone or mobile phone, travel allowance, and free airline tickets to travel back home, are commonplace.

Private butlers are in high demand in the U.S., where the rise of billionaires, millionaires, and celebrities is prevalent; the U.K. is experiencing a declining demand owing to the already high number of people in domestic service. The highest-paid butler in the U.S. reportedly earns $2.2 million yearly.

Family staff competent at cooking and managing milestone family events

Home chef

It is a huge advantage if all household staff bring an above-average ability to prepare meals. Butlers who know how to cook and serve a variety of foods—whether catering a business meeting or simply providing some extra help in the kitchen—are highly sought after.

The best domestic staffing agencies will often be able to match specific tastes and culinary requirements with staff skilled to create an unforgettable meal or know exactly what suits any particular function.

Family vacations require special arrangements requiring meticulous planning and flawless execution under challenging—particularly in winter—in terms of security, as HNWI families take to spending their time in mountainside chalets over Christmas holidays, for example. The comforts of home are not easily “exported”, and the responsibility of a comfortable, relaxing vacation experience must often be shouldered by the butler.

Staffing agencies can provide temporary or seasonal butlers, private chefs, or housekeepers to serve vacationers clients, ensuring a comfortable and peaceful chalet-stay, luxury villa retreat, or private island adventure.

For a milestone family event such as a baby shower or wedding, you are going to want a highly reliable aide, someone equipped by meticulous training and hard-won experience to smooth over any unexpected mishaps. Who better to manage such a high-profile event than a trusted servant who has been with the family for some time rather than outsourcing such considerable responsibilities to strangers?

All this considered, it is important not to overlook some finer details: is a family member disabled and requiring of special skills and attention, for example? Young children demand a certain demeanour; pets require special care and sensitivities; care workers and maintenance employees like gardeners and building contractors need to be supervised and scheduled.

And finally, while the stereotype of a middle-aged man as butler prevails, each household is a unique formulation of personalities; consider that the ideal fit for the “suit and bowtie” may just be a young woman.

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About Niamh Miller

Niamh is a professional journalist that has been specializing in the jewelry and watches industry since the early 2000s. He’s been with Luxatic for more than five years now, and before that he worked as a contributor to GQ and Esquire and he’s also done his magic for Watches You Can Afford.

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