On the invulnerability of traveling bankers
A banker friend of ours recently mentioned that he was going to Mexico City. Mexico City is a wonderful place, filled with exciting shops, restaurants, parks, and museums. It is also arguably the most dangerous city in the world.
Our friend had three psychological issues to overcome.
First, he was a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and, as such, like others who have shared this experience, he is oddly trapped in his past. Former Peace Corps Volunteers somehow assume the level of safety we experienced staggering through the bad neighborhoods where they served somehow adhere to them as businessmen. This is not an issue faced by people who served in an area when it was a combat zone, or by those who worked as undercover agents in these areas.
Second, many people in senior positions of responsibility remember places from their youth, when there was, in fact, a much higher level of safety.
Finally, even more than with most other groups, many of the bankers we know assume that they are not potential targets, and that they do not have to take special precautions when visiting foreign lands. This, by the bye, is a reasonable assumption if someone known to you is meeting you at the airport, and is under a protective escort during your entire trip. Unfortunately, this paradigm fails as soon as you are on your own.
And that was the case here. What with one thing and another, our guy assumed he could fly in, grab a cab at the airport, and go to his hotel, then grab a cab the next morning to go to his meeting. We finally convinced him that this plan was fraught with potential danger, and that he had to change his plan. In this case we recommended that the people he was going to see arrange for safe transport, and that someone known to him should be at the airport to pick him up. If there was nobody he knew, there should be an exchange of photographs so he would be able to identify the person who was to pick him up, and they would be able to identify him without holding up a sign with his name on it. Or at least not with his name on it: A fake sign with the name of a tour company, or of the driver, would be more acceptable.
While we tend to do this sort of thing wherever we go, it really is important to make some judgment as to how dangerous a place may be, and put into play whatever plans are necessary to ensure your security, in a manner appropriate to the level of danger you are likely to face. The amount varies from none to a whole lot, depending on who you are, where you will be going, and what you will be doing there.