The Rich Gets Richer - ASIS

By John Honovich, Published Mar 05, 2013, 07:00pm EST (Info+)

Who says there is no money to be made in physical security? Evidently, they do not know the executives at non-profit security organization ASIS. Many were shocked by our investigation last year that found their average executive's 2010 total compensation was over $300,000 (while others frantically tried to submit their resume). Well, here's good news for fans of income inequality - 2011 was a robust year for ASIS executives. 

As a whole, ASIS saw revenues increase ~10% from ~$27 million USD in 2010 to $29.5 million in 2011. ASIS executives, though, saw their total compensation jump 21% from a robust $330,000 to over $400,000. See the side by side charts below:

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Comments (19)

Up to 76% raises? Sure beats most workers. I thought we were in a recession?


Where do I send my resume for an ASIS executive position? I'd like to bump up to a new tax bracket.

Well, there may be some openings if you're looking for a change.

Wow, my thoughts exactly, I could use a position like that.

Of course, I stopped paying them $99 per year membership fees for their right to market to me about 6-7 years ago.

How does everyone feel about the PSP? I've never had an employer require it, although I've seen a few encourage it, but only one willing to pay for it. I've occaisionally seen an RFP requirement for bidders to identify a PSP but just a few. It's not as pervasive as the PMP, and I do see many RFP requirements for personnel to have PMP, especially in federal space. I'm sure ASIS would love PSP to be the next PMP.

Philly was weak but not totally lame. But I only do exhibits.

I used to be a PSP, Ethan is a PSP. The best benefit I found was that it facilitated introductions / conversations with other PSPs (the validation effect). The knowledge was solid but a lot of it is dated or not directly relevant for those on the technology side.

Btw, ASIS membership fees are now $150 per year (+$20 for first year applicants). Interestingly, those membership fees only account for ~12% of ASIS total revenue ($3.6 out of $29.5 million). Assuming $150 per year and $3.6 million total membership fees, that's 24,000 members. However, ASIS claims 38,000 members. I assume the difference might be some members paying less - student members (only $25), lifetime members, etc., but I am not sure.

I agree whole heartedly on the insignificance of the PSP program.

I think it started out strong and was great idea in the beginning however there is so much fluff in it that should actually be in the CPP program.

There is very little on Network based systems. I will not seek this designation as I prefer to obtain Industry standard network certification.

I am still an active member however I do not find much value in the membership. I have more access to Manufactures Reps for knowledge and a strong network of associates that I network with on a weekly basis.

We should not be surprised as the cost go up so should the average exec salary as they have to figure new creative ways to get more and do less. The CEO, CIO, CFO positions have increased as a whole.

While lower level management, pms and of course the work for in general have taken it in the shorts with concessions in base, benefits, salaries.

What is consistent is that the recession is only in the work force. Stocks up, wages down, cost up, expenses up, but no increases to compensate for this. The attitude across the board is pay less for new incoming work force.

Look at the new starting salaries and wages over the last 4 years and you will find that the work force as a whole are loosing ground fast.

The Real Issue at hand here is simple, work For free programs, usery.

Using your volunteers to make you millions. Pay for what you promote, just like your members do. All the entities listed who use volunteers in their programs under the guise of helping the industry, is wrong.

A reasonable wage or payment for a reasonable workload. Fair Trade Initiatives. Pay for the work and workers you have. ASIS is no different than any other company.

Yes, the recession is over (or never started) for the top earners. "Interest rates" are low, but credit card interest rates are up. Stocks/Dow is up to a new all-time high. Productivity is high as people work harder just to keep their job.

The fact that they average $400k for a non-profit, and got a 21% average increase is fleecing the membership, though consistent with other top execs. As you say, "The rich get richer."

FYI, do you know the maximum total effective marginal tax rate in the US is over 100%, and a lot of working poor are in the 90% range? (source)

I disagree that this is consistent with other top execs in the security industry. Look at the financials from SIA, ESA and the IACP. Their executives make far less (typically under $200k). ASIS exec compensation is way out of wack and they justify it by comparing to execs in other industries.

John, Yes, it is inconsistent with execs in other security non-profits, it is consistent with execs in for-profit businesses.

Either way, I don't believe that it is justifiable. What is the average salary increase of the other staff at ASIS? Is it 26%?

I highly doubt the average manufacturer exec averages $400,000 in total compensation. This isn't Wall Street. And I've talked to a number of manufacturers recently about it and they were all blown away about how much higher ASIS compensation was compared to theirs.

John and Christopher,

I'm responding specifically about the criticisms of the ASIS education program, and I have standing to do so, being one of the folks supposedly subject to "usury" in the "work for free" program.

First of all, if it didn't benefit the folks who volunteer, they wouldn't do so.

When I first joined ASIS, volunteering to help with educational programs (there are many more roles than instructor) was a way for me to directly interact with many individuals who were true experts in areas where I was not.

From my perspective as a writer for industry magazines, I learned a lot about the general state of things from the feedback of the 50 to 100 individuals who attended. It remains a good way to take the pulse of what today's security practitioners who are "on the way up" are experiencing.

I have sent client personnel to the educational sessions, inculding the pre-seminar "How to be a Consultant" course (produced by the IAPSC), because there is no more delightful situation for a consultant than working with an educated client.

Is is through work in the educational programs that I first met James Broder, author of Risk Analysis and the Security Survey, an incredibly knowledgeable security expert and consultant, and a consummate professional. I was completely blown away when he confided to me one secret of his for obtaining lifelong clients. It paid back all of my educational work many times over.

There are a number of individuals involved in the educational programs who are there because they believe that it is the obligation of those successful in a field to find ways to "give back" to the field, for all the good things that have come their way. And those are the kind of folks you want to learn from and meet.

As for instructing in the sessions, it is incredibly beneficial to have to examine published knowledge and your own experience and distill a topic down into 45 minutes or so of messaging that will give attendees a firmer grasp of the topic and provide them with actionable insight. That has improved both my writing and consulting.

All of the educational program participants have their various reasons for being there. The reasons may not be visible, but they exist nonetheless. No one forces their participation, and to call it usery is absurd and a bit ignorant.

One of the big ASIS educational bargains is that ASIS makes all of the recorded annual seminars available for about 50 cents each as a set ($99 for members who attend the seminar, $149 if you didn't attend). You can find the links here:

I myself get more than $150 of value from my ASIS membership, and I would assert that if you don't get your $150 of vaulue back, your're not utilizing the free and low-cost benefits that ASIS offers.

As to the other topics, there will be plenty of other comments and I don't want to spend time on those arguments, as I both agree and disagree with factors on both sides.


Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. I certainly agree that there are benefits to the folks who volunteer. The risk is what you allude to here:

"I was completely blown away when he confided to me one secret of his for obtaining lifelong clients. It paid back all of my educational work many times over."

Because the volunteers are paid nothing, they are motivated to make their money in other ways - e.g., using it to prospect clients. For the attendees, it's training. For the trainers, it's business development.

And it's not peanuts either, as you know better than I. To prepare a quality presentation, to fly out, pay your hotel, take that time away from your compensated work is quite a significant investment. It's thousands of dollars per event.

I do recognize that some volunteers, as you note, do it for purely noble reasons. But do all of them? Do most of them? What about the many manufacturers whose training is skewed to their technology? (and this is almost always the case)

I think this structure reduces the overall quality of training and takes advantages of real security experts.

As much as volunteering may be a benefit to the limited folks who volunteer, I bet ASIS executives would still find it financially beneficial to make even half of their total compensation and then that $1.4 million could be better used to reward true security experts like yourself.

John, I want to make sure it's clear that this was a personal conversation in a hallway. [Clarification after offline conversation with John:] It was a discussion between one master consultant to another consultant happy to learn (i.e. me), and the secret had nothing to do with event attendees or educational sessions, but rather was about a strategy for providing long-term value to clients.

As far as the cost of volunteering for educational sessions is concerned, you are right about it being a significant investment. Which is why I try to arrange other personal or business activity in the city where the workshop is held.

I don't agree with your assertion that it "is almost always the case" that the manufacturer personnel skew the training to their technology. If you are talking about an advance in technology and using your company's technology to illustrate, that can be done without any marketing hype or sales pitch. I've seen workshops where the folks from Bosch, Axis, Sony and Pasanonic all collaborate on the educational content, without skewing in favor of any company. I'd say that's laudable.

ASIS does pretty strongly watch the content of paid workshops, and I see very little promotion beyond an acceptable level of brand awareness. There are specific guidelines in that regard. I know of one seminar speaker who was banned from speaking for nearly 10 years for using the session to self-promote. Atendees are very quick to report it through their feedback sheets.

I am differentiating between the training workshops and educational seminar sessions, which is where the violation occured.

It's also my belief that the volunteer requirement tends to filter out less successful/less dedicated professionals, whether that aspect is intentional or not. If trainers were paid, which is probably financially feasible, I expect you'd have quite a long list of people applying, which would give the ASIS councils (where most workshops originate) a different kind of headache.

I'm not saying I haven't had moments of frustration. It took about 5 years to change the workshop title phrase to "Security Video" rather than "CCTV", which was long after it wasn't about CCTV anymore!

Another aspect of the volunteer nature is that it keeps the training workshop production from becoming a bureaucratic function, which would for sure be detrimental.

It doesn't have to be perfect, just workable and effective, which it is from what I've seen and per attendee feedback.

Ray, I find 2 types of promotion. There is straight production promotion, like "The Axis P1204 is a great product" and then there is market position promotion like "IP cameras are great." The former is banned but the later is regularly allowed (here's Axis's 'educational' presentation from the Philly show). This is highly skewed to Axis's approach and contains numerous claims that an independent expert would not make or, at least, would explain the downsides.

And if you paid people and had a long list of people apply, so much the better. You could eliminate all the manufacturers and could find true independent domain experts, motivate them and hold them accountable to do the very best job possible.

Listen, if not paying people has so many advantages, then maybe the ASIS execs should try it out!

John, I realize that I am focused more broadly on ASIS educational topics, and IPVM is focused on video. So that's one aspect that impacts my overall thinking perhaps differently from yours.

I'd have to hear the recorded session by Jeff Slotnick and James Marcella to engage in critique of it, but I have seen them both present and been on panels with both, and I would expect that the verbal presentation and the Q&A portion explored at least a few pros and cons of the issues in the slides.

James Macella in particular is the most truthful and forthright speaker and panelist I've seen representing any manufacturer. He's the only video industry panelist I have dealt with who has not tried to skirt around or B.S. his way through a response to a direct question about a product security vulnerability. Of course, it helps that Axis has a good track record in that regard compared to many other camera makers.

But I digress. I've given a lot of thought to the whole paid/unpaid thing (sometimes during a frustrated moment trying to get to sleep in a noisy hotel), and if you pay some folks then you have to pay others and it quickly scales out of manageability. It's not the financial burden, but the manageability of it all that tilts the scale (with other factors) in the direction of volunteerism. Besides, the manufacturers can easily pay for their personnel's participation, and even without pitching, there is value to be had for them in what they learn from the attendees.

I think we've practically beaten the education volunteer topic to death. I do appreciate the engaging discussion.

John , Ray

I can appreciate the training and other benefits from these shows. But I have been going to these shows for over 25 years and feel the venue has not changed much.

The Training is still basic and mostly skewed to the products shown on the floors. Once in a while you get some factory rep. who really knows his game and really knows what he is talking about. Impress's all

The Internet has provided basics, advanced and even highly advanced training from your computer or local colleges and trade schools. I don't think you have to pay the reps for their work as they receive pay from their employers. Just, all the other personnel who are their with a mission.

I have not ever made the connections to say it has paid for itself. It is mostly just a show & tell party by the boys clubs. A really good time to enjoy the parties , toys , events and elc.

As for Non Profits making huge profits, paychecks in the name of the company or organization they represent. Just Plain Wrong & Deceptive

Pay the employees, pay the management staff, Pay the set up crews like all other concerts, events, Parties, and the like.

The Boys Club has to pay its share. The Connections are when you have drinks , dinners , events with the buyers, purchasers, owners etc.

Some time back (this year) I began the process for purchasing “essential” study references from ASIS for my PSP and CPP. The cost of books was a shade under $200. The cost of Post to Australia was more than the cost of the books because ASIS don’t use best price postage solutions.

I raised this with them and provided a comparison of Amazon purchases where the cost of post was about a fifth or less the cost of the books and it was a prompt service.

ASIS reply (?) I’m still waiting.

ASIS announced that due to increasing operating costs they would have to raise membership fees by a whacking amount. Why aren’t the Executives required to prove productivity against their exorbitant wages?

In the late 90’s I was involved in the Data Warehousing industry and an organisation (101 publications) owned several not for profit organisations including TDWI. On investigating further I found they were creating these entities and making packets of profit on Conferencing education as a front door business model.

Sound familiar?

Who owns and controls ASIS go take a look?

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