Trustworthy advice from the experts
New owners contemplating a pre-loved superyacht must seek out trustworthy advice.
Broker or broke
New owners contemplating a pre-loved superyacht must seek out trustworthy advice. A professional, reputable broker can guide the process from inception to enjoyment, whittling down the numerous designs and shipyards to present boats with the right specifications for the job and within budget. The new-build process is similar in that brokers can assemble a number of new-build opportunities for consideration. In conjunction with the buyer’s legal team, they can ensure that the Yacht Construction Agreement drawn up is suitable and can then work with a technical team to oversee the build to the correct specifications and standards.
Brokers are just one route to dream fulfilment. Benjamin Maltby, an English barrister and director of leading yacht consultants MatrixLloyd, can be retained on a modest, fixed fee, by buyers to provide them with all the expert guidance required, from first interest through to launch and beyond.Put simply, says Maltby, “We make sure that our clients receive the biggest and best bang for their buck, and we apply our many years of commercial and legal experience to make sure that costly mistakes are avoided.”
Backhanders and bravado
Inevitably, some individuals acting on the behalf of buyers will expect illegal commissions or backhanders. Maltby said, “We neither solicit nor accept commissions, and ensure that no-one working for the buyer does either. By itself, this approach can save clients millions of Euros.”
Maltby continued, “Our services are a must for first-time buyers. Behind slick marketing, yards can be financially weak, putting the buyer’s investment at risk. There is also a common misconception that yards will provide a complete and perfect yacht if paid enough money: this is just not how it works. Every yacht is a unique and complex engineering project. Corners will be cut and compromises made if the buyer isn’t well represented throughout the build. Experienced owners save money by ensuring that commissions, backhanders and little ‘thank yous’ aren’t being paid to anyone and everyone associated with the build."
Pochon Lawyers & Associates in Luxembourg provide a service which includes suggesting various types of agreement to buy a superyacht, involving the incorporation of a company which could detain the vessel. Brigitte Pochon, CEO, commented, “We can draft the purchase contracts, lease agreements and all pre-contracts concerning the superyacht. We may also incorporate companies which would own the superyacht and include a domiciliation agreement between the company and the firm, in order to register it at the legal firm's address.”
Independent management Derek Munro is the principle behind Yacht Consultancy Ltd, an independent company not involved in either brokerage or management. Munro believes that although yachts are used to experience pleasure and relaxation, they require correct management to minimise losses and improve gains, as with a business. He said, “Thorough planning is imperative to help achieve the optimum end product for each client, every time. Nobody who builds or owns a yacht wishes to see their hard earned money being mismanaged and effectively thrown away.“
Philip Demler is a managing partner at Demler Marine Projects. He said, “Involving an owner‘s representative – an independent professional advisor – to look after your interests in a new build project not only reduces the owner‘s workload in the day-to-day build process, it also makes it a much more enjoyable experience. Good owners’ reps like those at Demler will often save the client more money during the build than their ultimate fee, which is why we recommend getting one on board before any build contract is signed.“
Bob Wagemakers C.Eng. MRINA a naval architect with Virtue Refit Yacht Management commented, “The key role of the owner’s representative is to look after the interests of the client only. Apart from being highly experienced in all aspects that the client desires to be represented in, perhaps one of the most important things is that this person is totally independent. Avoiding having too many intermediaries between the owner and his representative on the ground executing the wishes will result in a higher degree of independency. Whether building, buying or refitting a superyacht, a good owner’s rep will ensure that the process is smooth and straightforward for the owner and that he or she enjoys the experience, not only when on board, but also in dealing with all other aspects of ownership."
Charlie Baker is an owner’s representative with CME Yachts consultancy. He offers another angle on the role of the rep, saying, “We consult in many yards, including the most prolific builders. We understand how they operate, their time-keeping, their sub-contractor control and their overall quality. We help them to raise their all-important shipyard standards. As a result, whatever problems an individual project faces, we’ve seen it before. Prior knowledge of the pros and cons relating to each type of vessel gives us, and therefore our clients, an enormous advantage.”