International Yacht Collection (IYC) has opened its new office in Palm Beach, Florida, which was previously home to Edmiston’s Palm Beach base. IYC has also welcomed former Edmiston brokers, Bill Sanderson and Rachel Finkbeiner to head the office.

Commenting on the move IYC president, Bob Saxon said, “Welcoming Bill Sanderson and Rachel Finkbeiner to IYC with the debut of our Palm Beach location marks a significant occasion in the evolution of our firm. Bill’s yachting experience and singular way with clients is unparalleled in our business while the long-standing partnership between him and Rachel creates a seamless client experience with regard to handling the administrative aspects of yacht management”.

Sanderson, who alongside Finkbeiner established Edmiston’s Palm Beach operation spoke exclusively to about the changes. It is worth pointing out that the conversation took place at what would have been 06:30, with Sanderson now opening the office at 05:45 to maximise time with the European market.

“These are tough times in this business. Brokers and brokerage houses are uneasy and they often think the grass is greener on the other side”, he explained. “The houses aren’t making the money, while personally, I’m spending more than I’ve ever spent chasing deals.”

Rachel Finkbeiner and Bill Sanderson.

Sanderson is by no means bemoaning the current situation; rather he is offering an honest appraisal of market conditions. As he explains, yards are suffering from labour costs that have plateaued and material costs that have risen, preventing them from being able to drop prices and challenge the buyers’ market with competitive rates. Equally, the second-hand sales and charter markets face inventory problems of their own. All of this equates to a brokerage sector that faces a challenging outlook.

“Each situation has its only little idiosyncrasies”, he caveats. “I was in Singapore and saw the situation the New Zealand yards find themselves in, and it’s terrible. These are some of the best builders in the world but they’re being killed by the strength of the dollar there; the boats used to be available at 50 cents to the [US] dollar, but now you’re looking at 80!” While conversely, a potential refit project he is coordinating could end up in the US market because its prices are so competitive when compared to European yards. Under these tough market conditions it seems, one company’s loss is always another’s gain.

The IYC Palm Beach office.

On the point of his move to IYC, he says it was the right move. He also adds that it was Sanderson and Finkbeiner that approached IYC, as they were keen to hold on to the well-positioned commercial space. And ironically, Sanderson feels that, with his own operation at least, the move may coincide with a tipping point, where deals begin to be secured.

“But I tell my clients, ‘don’t think things are going to come back [to pre-recession conditions] because they’re not’”, he says. “You can’t build a yacht, use it for a few years and sell it for more than you paid for. Those days are over.”

Instead though, brokers are going to have to work a lot harder for their buck, he says. And in the case of IYC, there is the opportunity to expand the scope of the Palm Beach operation in the future. But, in what is a tellingly realistic appraisal of the current status quo, Sanderson said there should be “no rush”, and that company growth should be both organic and demand driven. Still, “with IYC we’re looking forward to a little more support and this will come fairly quickly”. Brokerage houses have remained remarkably resilient, he points out, and their level of contraction has not been as dramatic as that of shipyards. And this in itself should offer the sector encouragement.

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International Yacht Collection

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