Having attracted 18 new yachts in 2017, the Fraser management fleet is going from strength to strength. As reported in its end of year review, demand for Fraser’s yacht management services was highest in the Middle East, while demand from Russian clients is somewhat static. We spoke with Harald Van Exem, Director of Yacht Management at Fraser to see if there’s a trend behind the numbers.
Looking at the report, why do you think we are seeing overall growth in the number of Owners currently engaging yacht management companies?
Owning a yacht is very much like owning a small business, with rules and regulations concerning everything from accounting to safety and security. Yachts also move between different countries and different jurisdictions so it’s a very complex business and many Owners appreciate that an expert can help reduce stress and costs. With operational oversight, a yacht management company also records important data about the vessel and procedural documents for existing and new crew members.
It’s interesting to see growth in demand from the Middle East, whereas Russian clients have declined – what’s your view?
Generally speaking, Middle Eastern Owners have moved up in size and consequently managing their assets and complying with regulatory frameworks becomes more complex. Specialised expertise is required to efficiently and safely manage the mega yachts we see nowadays with Middle Eastern owners.
For Russia it’s not so much a case of business decreasing, more that it remains stable at a lower level compared to what it was prior to the financial crisis when many Russians sold their yachts. Political and financial issues have also had an impact on the market, resulting in some yachts being held as frozen assets.
In 2017, Fraser sold more yachts than any other brokerage, for the 8th consecutive year.
What does yacht management typically involve?
At Fraser our yacht management services include safety and security management, technical consulting, crew administration and placement, vessel accounting and insurance assistance. It includes everything to do with the safe and efficient running of the yacht, making sure safety certificates are up to date, managing shipyard periods, sourcing insurance quotes, finding the best crew, managing payroll and managing the yacht’s overall budget.
In terms of technology, many yachts are also moving to paperless management systems – how does this impact your business?
We use a number of different software programmes, the main one being FLY (Fraser Link to Yachts) which is a customised interface allowing yachts and staff to view shared documents in real time. It’s a very efficient way to manage documents, electronic forms and checklists.
For financial management, the most suitable solution needs to be agreed with the Owners’ office depending on their specific reporting and access requirements. We work with a number of different options adapted to the particular needs of individual clients.
Fraser Superyacht Management includes the project management of refit and maintenance work.
Do you work closely with Captains, crew and Owners?
Yes, we work incredibly closely with all the crew on board and the owners. The Captain is responsible for the everyday running and safety of the vessel and we are there to support them in carrying out the Owner’s wishes. Daily interactions and regular onboard visits create a smooth cooperation between crew, management and the Owner’s ground staff.
Do you assist with refits and maintenance work?
Yes absolutely, our technical superintendents work with the yachts for all planned maintenance, and we also have an in-house project management team for larger work periods like major refits and new builds.
Do you liaise with sales and charter brokers?
Yes we work closely with the sales brokers when they’re assisting a client with the purchase of a yacht, providing audits and potential operational budgets and making sure there is transparency around how the vessel has been run. We also work with the charter management team, ensuring maintenance periods don’t clash with potential charters and ensuring the yacht is compliant for particular cruising areas.
Fraser Yacht Management works closely with Captain and crew.
Which yacht has been under Fraser Management for the longest?
The Fraser Yacht Management department has managed 15 yachts for over 10 years and several of these have been clients for over 15 years. Our longest cooperation with an active client is with a 100m yacht where we have provided full management services for over 17 years.
What is the size range in Fraser’s managed fleet?
We manage a huge range of yachts from 20m to over 120m. Each yacht is free to select its own tailor made package to suit its needs as every yacht requires a dedicated approach. We manage the commercial status for yachts wishing to charter as well as the operational limitations of certain geographical areas as all of this has a direct impact on the support platform required.
Fraser welcomed 18 yachts to its management fleet in 2017, what’s the secret of your success?
Fraser was one of the very first companies to offer yacht management services, so we have decades of experience and have built strong relationships with our clients. We manage one of the largest fleets in the world and consequently we have worked with many of the different Flag States, Class Societies and legislations. We currently have 11 Documents of Compliance in-house with vessels registered under 15 different Flag States. At Fraser we also offer transparency across all our management services to ensure any supplier discounts are passed on to the yacht.