An award-winning broker, Matthew Stone has devoted more than half his life to the yachting industry. Growing up in South Florida, Matthew realized early that he felt more comfortable on the water than on land, so his interest and comfort with sailing became his passion, which became his career. In 2016 that he moved from being a yacht captain to yacht broker, and in 2020, he was nominated for the coveted IYBA (International Yacht Broker’s Association) award for Outstanding Young Professional in Yachting. In both 2018 and 2019, he earned Broker of the Year.
His professional growth accelerated recently, as he now represents IYC, one of the largest and most reputable global brands in the yachting world. IYC is one of the world’s largest international yachting companies with over 100 professionals based in 14 strategically located offices around the globe. IYC has expanded its geographic footprint in multiple countries and continually invests in the development of proprietary software solutions to deliver advice, insight, and support to yacht owners, buyers, charterers, and captains worldwide. In addition, it has been announced IYC will expand its reach to Southern California very soon.
Mr. Stone, as an IYC team member, is deeply committed to his and his clients’ continuing yacht education and has a particular passion for new construction builds. He has toured and learned about new builds from many of the world’s leading international shipyards including Lurssen, Feadship, Heesen, San Lorenzo, Baglietto, and Benetti, all while sharpening his skill set to meet his clients’ growing requirements and interests. In media, Matthew is a regular on the AWE network TV series, Selling Yachts and has been featured in a variety of industry magazine publications.
The Status Life recently spoke with him about the future of the yacht industry, and how recent events have affected the industry.
The Status Life: How has Covid affected the high-end Charter mega-yacht market?
Mr. Stone: Simply put, it has forced the charter market to restructure from charter agreements, sanitation protocols, crew requirements, and the list goes on and on. Fortunately, like most areas of the yachting industry, it has had a positive effect that has allowed for a safer and more controlled environment for our clients. We still face logistical challenges with travel restrictions that are continuously changing. With that said, we’re happy to announce that so far in Q3, IYC has surpassed our last three fiscal years.
The Status Life: In an earlier article about the yachting business, I read that selling a mega-yacht is a lot like selling real estate. Can you discuss this a little?
Mr. Stone: While there are definitely parallels in the process of selling a mega-yacht that would be comparable to selling real estate outside of that, it is notably different. The complexity of buying a yacht is far more rigorous than a house. You’re dealing with complex equipment surrounded by saltwater in most cases.
Another example is most people need real estate, you don’t need a yacht, and for that reason alone, you may only have a handful of people in the world that could be a prospective client for a particular yacht. Additionally, when purchasing a mega-yacht, you are buying the ultimate luxury asset. Lastly, in my opinion, there is far more emotion when purchasing a yacht; it’s a lifestyle, a dream, a passion, and at times there are even elements of impulse. Most people don’t impulsively buy real estate.
Mr. Stone: Yes, absolutely and in all facets of the industry, starting with construction methods and ending with the consumer. Technology advancements making yachts more efficient and safer. Diesel alternatives are allowing yacht owners to operate their vessels in an environmentally responsible way. The consumer (and how they use the vessel) is also evolving with several new buyers entering the marketplace to get family, friends, and loved ones together in the safest environment possible.
The Status Life: Where do you see the high-end charter/mega yacht business going in terms of challenges and solutions?
Mr. Stone: For the charter market, we’re going to continue to face logistical challenges with travel restrictions. From the client’s, perspective makes sure you’re working with a reputable company like IYC that has a global presence, so you have the resources and information to make educated decisions on where, when, and which yacht you should charter to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
The biggest challenge we’re facing on the sales side is inventory; it’s scarce. But, again, having an experienced broker backed by a reputable brokerage house with a diverse database allows you to find opportunities that wouldn’t normally be available.
The Status Life: Do you see the buyers of these vessels changing in terms of their needs and wants in yachts?
Mr. Stone: Yes, now more than ever. Clients’ desires to be in congested ports are becoming less appealing with an increased appetite for remote destinations, impacting their needs and expectations of the yacht’s capabilities.
The Status Life: Finally, where do you see the high-end yacht market growing or not in the next five years?
Mr. Stone: We do not doubt that the yachting market will continue to grow. We will continue to see new buyers enter the marketplace who want to enjoy time with family, friends, and loved ones in a controlled environment. Experienced owners’ needs and wants are evolving. New products are entering the market, appealing to a wider audience. Economists suggest that the economic expansion that started in mid-2020 will continue, the GDP has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Our industry has adapted and evolved to the times and will continue to do so.
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