Yachtzoo, the boutique full-service brokerage firm with offices in Monaco and Fort Lauderdale, has announced its official expansion into the Asian market, with its first office, in Tokyo, having opened its doors in December 2016.
But, why Tokyo? It’s interesting to see brokerage firms’ due diligence forming different conclusions as to the most prosperous entry route into the Asian market. Camper & Nicholsons International, for instance, recently announced its expansion through a preliminary Hong Kong base.
“We are concentrating on Japan, because we are already embedded in the region on so many levels,” begins Nigel Beatty, sales broker at Yachtzoo, who, together with Kenta Inaba, an experienced businessman, designer, yachting professional and local, will be facilitating the growth of the Asian branch. The duo also has past experience of developing other companies in Tokyo.
“Japan’s yachting industry is very insular and closed, so not many are aware of the existing superyacht infrastructure, which has been there for 35–40 years,” Beatty continues. “I spoke at a conference in Singapore” – on behalf Asia-Pacific Superyacht Association (APSA), an organisation for which Beatty is chairman – “and people genuinely had no idea that there was already an established yachting industry in Japan.”
The Knight Frank Wealth Report 2016 shows statistics on the UHNW residents in Asian cities, and those living within two hours of the cities (slide two in the gallery). The chart suggests that Tokyo is near the bottom of the pile for resident UHNWIs.
However, Beatty adds: “I really believe that the wealth reports only show a fragment of the wealth in this region. Tokyo is the richest city in the world and it’s the biggest urban colony on the planet. The Japanese are also very subtle with their wealth.
“Banks such as HSBC and Barclays haven’t grown into Japan – they have their own banks. Sumitomo Mitsui, Mizuho Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ, for example, aren’t anywhere else in the world. Since the 60s and 70s, they’ve had their own infrastructure growing alongside the world’s, so I don’t believe that Wealth-X and Knight Frank have been able to penetrate the region for genuine wealth statistics.
“There is also a massive amount of wealth tied up in Japanese corporations, so while they may not have a huge amount of personal wealth, as corporate CEOs they have massive power and control over billions. More than half of the yachts I’ve sold to Japan have been to corporations and companies.”
Is the superyacht industry steered too definitively by wealth distribution reports? It’s certainly food for thought. A flourishing yachting culture is by no means an inevitable translation of a region’s apparent wealth – and it would be audacious to make such a comprehensive move without qualified local knowledge forming the cornerstone of the firm’s strategy.