Few would argue against the idea that owning, managing and operating a superyacht is an incredibly complex task. Such is the complexity that any idealised notions of one-stop shop and off the shelf solutions to superyacht ownership may as well be thrown out of the window immediately. Complexity, however, is not a sufficiently strong argument to justify inefficiency, ineptitude or greed. We explore how the use of clear reporting systems can ease the ownership experience and minimise ‘CSP creep’.
“Recently we have been working with a number of family offices and looking at how their superyacht ownership structures operate,” begins Katherine Ellis, director of business development at Boston Multi Family Office. “We aren’t simply checking whether or not the structure is effective from a corporate service provider perspective. Our interest isn’t, in these cases, whether or not the structure has been set up properly or that VAT is being reclaimed in the right way; instead we are looking at who is responsible for each element of the vessel and who they are reporting to.”
Ellis believes that the superyacht market has, at times, failed to get the fundamentals of reporting systems right. With so many different stakeholders involved in the operation of a superyacht, many of whom feel as though they should be the owner’s first point of contact, it is not uncommon for inefficiencies to arise as relationships and communications breakdown.
“It is a danger when this happens because it creates a negative ownership experience,” continues Ellis. “The benefit of having a structure in place should be that you get the management of the asset right. This requires working with all the partners involved and ensuring that a single set of reports is generated that allows the family office, or other, to clearly assess costs and whether or not the vessel is being run the way the owner wants it to be.”
Breaking with the superyacht market status quo, which has traditionally been to point fingers at management companies, Ellis concedes that, more often than not, the fault lies with the corporate service provider. Instead of drawing a clear line in the sand between yacht management and corporate service provision, “too many CSP’s would rather quietly compete with the yacht managers… charging fees for time spent on tasks that have already been done or could be done better by the yacht manager.”
Ellis paints a picture in which these situations are becoming increasingly common place as some “faceless” CSPs seek to benefit from the superyacht market. This in turn leads to what Ellis coins as ‘CSP creep,’ a scenario in which overzealous CSPs encroach on various specialist fields and owners end up being over charged and underwhelmed. Being part of a multi-family office, Ellis believes that these situations can be avoided or rectified by providers being customer-centric and not business-centric, which is more common with family office arrangements. That being said, single family offices are not a necessity, but what is necessary is the creation of clear mandates and reporting systems for all stakeholders included in the running of a superyacht.
“We go to great lengths to ensure structures which we create and administrate are clear, well-reported, and completely devoid of duplicated effort,” concludes Ellis.
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