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‘Skate to where the puck is going to be’

Tina Stow, CEO of Stow Capital LLC, reflects on her interactions with the brokerage sector.…

Guest Author Tina Stow offers a candid perspective of the Brokerage sector...

We had several clients enquire about buying a superyacht during the pandemic, and many of them were first-time buyers. In my attempt to engage with half-a-dozen brokers from the large houses, half were simply transactional and the other half were closed to any type of conversation. As with all things competitive, a company is only as strong as its weakest link. Subsequently, an opportunity to sign another client is lost because of something as mundane as communication.

Is that not precisely part of the job description for brokers: bringing fresh perspectives and information to clients? The interesting thing is that demand exists for the new and unique. Clients are asking us ‘What do you have that’s new and exciting that I haven’t seen before?’. The client is literally saying, ‘Impress and delight me with the original and unique because I’m worth it.’ In my opinion, brokers don’t even have to directly sell the new and unique, they only have to present it. But if they don’t have the ‘supply’ side of the equation, if they have only the standard offerings – which every other boat owner has also encountered or has installed on their boat already – we will fail to attract the next generation of owners.

In my experience, the current broker mentality is still too transactional at this very top end of the luxury market. I think the solution is, as we see it, simple. To quote ice hockey star Wayne Gretzky, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been”. Therefore, a superyacht demands a super broker. A super broker is a super connector connected to the entire client ecosystem, not merely to boating culture.

There is another term for a super-connector: Power broker. A power broker is knowledgeable about every aspect of the UHNWI lifestyle that can improve or impact the build or refit of a superyacht. Becoming a power broker is, in and of its own, a lifestyle choice. It means curating knowledge about forces that can have an impact on the client's lifestyle – for better or worse – and has either in-house solutions or synthesises external solutions, plus also trusted third-party solutions, all at your fingertips.

A continuous menu of up-to-date knowledge and resources turns power brokers into A-players. Superyacht clients are all A-players ... and A-players like to work with other A-players. Brokers who exceed client expectations, evolve into power brokers and further into A-players will be sought out, have their pick of projects, transcend the typical transactional encounter and garner the respect of clients and peers alike. Brokers who do not evolve are like ice hockey players who stand still and don’t advance the play. 

The superyacht sector needs a more diverse technical offering: from eco-friendlier propulsion systems and interior designs to pre-emptive, hunt-oriented, offensive dark-web reputation mitigation capabilities, to the consolidation of yacht and space (drones) and multi-domain vehicles. This requires a significant amount of education and research. The communication of these individual assets creates opportunities for private yacht data to land in the wrong hands if not secured and guarded correctly.

The brokerage sector should be aiming for a global platform of a highly organised, standardised, educated and mentored workforce. Simply put, based on the interactions we had on behalf of our clients, the way brokers are currently organised is just not good enough to be responsible for someone else’s millions in currency – fiat or digital. Kudos to Scot Fraser at Camper & Nicholsons for being curious to learn more about what we can offer the superyacht world ... and skating to where the puck is going to go.

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‘Skate to where the puck is going to be’

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