Retainer Contract

It’s like having your own Security Office

There are three types of retainer contracts; one for a Company, one for a Security Company and then there is one for Investigations.


Companies are those entities with more than one corporate office or retail store throughout South Africa or worldwide. Essentially, it is any company that has more than one place where its business is being conducted. Some companies have offices, warehouses and manufacturing plants.

All of these entities will require some form of security, and along with that, a Security Risk Assessment.

As there is more than one place where the company operates from, the retainer contract is signed with Alwinco and the assessments are done over a period of time, depending on the size of the company, to spread the load of the assessment and also, to spread the burden of the payments.

The idea behind this is to allow the Risk Assessor to get a clear image of all the various offices, warehouses, retail outlets and so on, and information pertaining to specific procedures, events, protocols and so on, are then cross-referenced and used to give the client much better control over their security component.

It is important to note that whilst one company might have various offices, retail outlets, warehouses and so on all over South Africa, the fact of the matter is that none of these properties will be the same from a security perspective. There will be some security aspects that will be applicable throughout the company, however, each property is unique as all employees, visitors, clients, the property itself, the neighbourhood and so on, are unique and each property will be treated as such.

Solutions to the risks will be supplied once all the risks have been identified, and when suitable, risk-specific solutions have been identified.

Security Companies

The second type of retainer is when Security Companies want to either give their clients a value-added service in addition to their ‘flagship’ contract, want to keep their current contract, or when they are in the process of bidding for a new contract.

Flagship contracts refer to big contracts such as large companies, businesses, shopping centres and so on.

Some Security Companies offer the option for a Security Risk Assessment, especially where the protection of a VIP is concerned. In these cases, there are a large number of buildings, roads, neighbourhoods and so on that needs to be assessed. This is when the Security Company signs a retainer contract with a Risk Assessor, preferably an Independent Security Risk Assessor, whereby the Assessor is responsible for assessing all the identified buildings, properties, neighbourhoods and so on.

This also assists with spreading the load of the Assessment, as well as the payment thereof. Payment takes place throughout the duration of the Assessment as predetermined by the Assessor and as agreed to as per the signed contract.


The third type of retainer contract is when an individual or company hires an assessor to conduct an internal investigation to find the root cause of whatever the problem might be, whether it is theft, unlawful information sharing, internal crime and so forth. An investigation is lodged when a specific type of risk needs to be identified within the company.

More than one site, building, office or retail outlet might have to be investigated and as investigations are based on evidence and information gathering, it cannot be limited to a predetermined timeframe, hence a retainer contract is signed.


In general, a retainer contract is there to assist the companies who require the service of a Security Risk Assessor but who has a large number of properties, buildings, offices and so on, to spread the payments over some time as determined by the assessor and as agreed upon by the client.

Most corporate companies have a budget that they need to adhere to and spreading the payments over several months or even a year will potentially lessen the impact that it has on the budget.

A retainer contract also aids the Risk Assessor in the sense that it provides him with the timeframe and scope to understand the core and processes of the company much clearer and essentially, to create a unified security process that will provide the required security control throughout the entire company.

We mention in our Assessment that one of the most important aspects of security is communication and a Security Risk Assessment ensures that everyone in the company speaks the same security language, that they have a common goal and that they know how to reach that goal.

When you sign a retainer contract with a Security Risk Assessment company, you don’t sign a contract for one person’s services, but the entire company. This means that all the research, the experts, the information network, the task teams, professionals, specialists and so on, forms part of the team that will conduct the assessment for the duration of the contract.

You get the knowledge and expertise of the entire team that adds up to more than 250 years of combined experience in the security, crime and risk field.

The composition of the team will be determined by the type of assessment or investigation as each team of experts focus on their speciality.

Depending on the size of the assessment or investigation, the retainer contract can be done over one year or two years.

It is important to note that a retainer contract should not be used to get the Risk Assessment company to assess only the first three or four properties and then stop with the assessments.

Some clients may think that the findings for the first couple of properties can be carried over to other properties, however, this assumption will be incorrect as each property is unique and each property has its own risks and therefore requires a unique assessment.

A retainer contract is a binding contract and the amount quoted is the fee for the entire project and not only part of the project, the only difference is that it is not payable as a once-off amount but rather spread over a period as agreed upon in the contract.

Some people perceive the retainer contract as a monthly pay-off and that it can be stopped at any time. Unfortunately, it does not work that way.

A gym contract is normally a two-year contract, for example, and it is also one large amount that is spread over 24 months to make the payments easier and more attainable for the person living on a monthly budget. Whether you go to the gym for 6 out of the 24 months, or you go to the gym every day for two years, the total contract price remains the same. If you go to the gym regularly, you will get value for money and the added benefit of a strong and healthy body.

The same principle applies to a retainer contract with a Security Risk Assessment Company. Whether you have all the properties assessed as per the contract, or only three, the total price of the project as agreed to in the contract, remains the same. If you choose to have all the properties assessed, you will get value for money and you will reach the ultimate security goal: to be in control of your security.

A retainer allows the assessor to assess up to 10 properties simultaneously which gives him the necessary information to identify the cross-over risks and, with a Security Risk Assessment, certain processes need to be done before something else can be done, just like a house is also built-in phases. To ‘break’ the smokescreen that people put up when they find out that the security aspect is being assessed, the assessment is conducted in levels. That means that level one of the assessment will be completed for all 10 buildings before level 2 will be done, and so on.

We must see the true state of the security as this will allow us to identify the real risks. If we assess each building from top to bottom, the word will spread, and the smokescreens will go up and the assessment will be in vain.

Another reason for conducting the assessment on several buildings at the same time on various levels is to prevent the ‘copy and paste’ effect.

As mentioned, some clients think that one building’s findings, risks and solutions can be copied over to the next building. They sometimes implement solutions that were meant for one building on another building before the assessor has a chance to assess the risks. This is incorrect and should not be done as it could potentially be very dangerous. In addition to this, this approach can lead to unnecessary expenditure. It also camouflages the real risks which could have severe repercussions.

Rather wait for the assessor to identify the risks before implementing solutions. One example of this would be where a company with branches in Gauteng and Cape Town applied the same delivery protocols to both areas. This did not work out because the areas are different which means the risks are different. There are too many variables to copy and paste solutions.

The retainer also provides the assessor the much-needed time to understand the functionality of each property, building, retail outlet as a single entity, and also how it functions as a whole.

A retainer approach is ideal for companies with 10 or more properties, offices and so on, as well as Security Companies that want to give their client’s a value-added service when they realise that they cannot conduct an Independent Security Risk Assessment.

Written by Andre Mundell

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