Find out what happens if you don’t run background checks on candidates when considering where to find a nanny or private staff?

When thinking about where to find a nanny or any other household staff – from cleaner to house manager – how carefully do you consider your security? We spoke to our security partner Alexei Cantacuzene-Speransky from Rose Partners, a high-end security company, to find out the pitfalls of not doing checks.

When I ask Alexei to tell me stories about private clients who have had difficulty with household staff due to lack of security checks, he almost doesn’t know where to start, there are so many.

Alexei Cantacuzene-Speransky, security expert for 14fifyseven

Alexei Cantacuzene-Speransky, security expert for 14fifyseven

‘Take one example,’ says Alexei, ‘of a client who came to us because someone was stealing from them.’ This client had turned to Alexei and Rose Partners for some sleuth work. They knew the thief was a household employee but needed to find out which of their various private staff it could be. ‘They hadn’t ever asked themselves what they knew about the staff working in their home before they began,’ says Alexei. ‘We spoke to everyone and it quickly became clear that the cleaner was in a terrible situation, having to pay off members of some Eastern European mafia. Her parents were incarcerated and she was being bribed. She had turned to theft to try and make the payments. This is obviously an extreme example, and we had to get the police involved – who were able to help the cleaner extract herself from the situation.’

According to Alexei, it’s shocking how often people don’t check who they’re employing. The difficulty for high-net-worth individuals is that they employ various people in their homes – cleaners in their bedroom, nannies with their children, housekeepers who access all areas. They simply assume they’re safe in their own home. But it’s clearly better to spend a little upfront to set up security protocols for all staff, than to have to fix difficult problems later on.

Rose Partners, Alexei’s employer, does all manner of security procedures, from training household staff and family members in how to deal with break-ins and cyber problems, to implementing an entire security programme for a family or business. At 14fiftyseven, we use their services to reassure our clients that they are hiring the person they think they are.

The superfan problem

Another problem that Alexei has come across, is when agencies are hiring for celebrities. Once, when checking applicants for one job, a few alarm bells started to ring about one of the favourite candidates. She had a lot of mentions of the celeb she was applying to work for on her social media accounts. When Rose Partners delved a bit deeper, the level of attention on this one celeb was above and beyond a normal ‘like’, with multiple images of memorabilia, as well as attending numerous concerts in a single year. Alexei says, ‘Obviously celebs have a whole world of issues around security, but not employing a superfan is a good place to start when protecting yourself. We threw up the links as a caution and this candidate wasn’t interviewed for the position. It’s our job to highlight risk – and to us, this was a potential risk.’

The trust problem

Alexei says he is amazed how much people are willing to simply trust someone they don’t know. One recent client was about to employ a nanny who had admitted having a criminal record. The candidate said they had hit someone, but the employer seemed willing to overlook that fact on the back of a couple of pleasant conversations with the potential nanny. But we managed to steer her clear.

Alexei says, ‘It didn’t take us long to find out that the nanny candidate’s criminal record was for GBH.’ He couldn’t believe the client was willing to put the most precious thing in their lives – their children – in the hands of someone who may have a violent anger problem. Also, this person was potentially putting their reputation at risk just to avoid looking for another solution to where to find a nanny. If the person who had been hit knew the nanny was working for a hnw individual, they could be tempted to sell a revenge story to the tabloids, for example. This is why, at 14fiftyseven, we use Alexei’s services for clients who need to know where to find a nanny or other staff with proper checks. We know Alexei and his team have seen the worst that can happen, and so are always happy to take Rose Partners’ advice, taking the worry away from our clients.

This level of service and security scrutiny is very rare in the recruitment business, according to Alexei. Rose Partners tends to get called in to clear up problems. We use their services to avoid those problems arising, whether its for someone wondering where to find a nanny, butler, housekeeper or any other household staff. Without wanting to blow our 14fiftyseven trumpet too loudly, we think it’s one of the reasons that sets us apart from the private-staff-agency competition.

So many household staff only stay for a short period of time, we know the right thing to do is thoroughly check them out first – before any problems arise, and this helps people feel trusted in their position, too, and leads to much more secure relationships between employer and household staff.

Obviously, checking members of staff who have very little online presence is difficult. But at Rose Partners, in-depth conversations lead to revealing facts about people. They’re in the business of knowing what to look for, and have access to enormous international databases unavailable to the average person doing an internet search.

The teenage children problem

Another common fault line in a wealthy family’s security set up is their children. Alexei says, ‘We deal with a lot of families who live overseas, but send their children to be educated in the UK. Problems often arise when these children hit 15 or 16 and are on social media, posting pictures of the interiors of homes or of expensive cars. The children don’t always know who is their friend and who is befriending them for financial gain. Part of our job is looking out for these kids.’ In order to do that, Alexei helped Rose Partners devise a hard-hitting course for such children, who have essentially grown up in a bubble, and really benefit from guidance when they hit the real world and have cash to splash, potentially putting their parents at risk, too.

Alexei says, ‘For 14fiftyseven, we do whatever is required. That might be advising on security across a new clients’ whole life – from house security, to background checks on staff, and having a frank conversation about teenage children’s use of social media.’

Our advice at 14fiftyseven, when wondering where to find a nanny or any other household staff member, is to call us, safe in the knowledge that we’ll do everything possible to reassure our clients that the person they’re hiring is who they say they are, and has a reputable character. We couldn’t do this without the invaluable help of Alexei and Rose Partners.

By Susie Osborough

Call us at 14fiftyseven to talk through where to find a nanny, and all your household staff recruitment needs and budget. We source exceptional PAs, lifestyle managers, house managers, nannies, and more. Call +44 (0) 208 616 1457 or email or fill in our online enquiry form.

14fiftyseven. Because we’ve been there.

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