Award-winning broker Matthew Stone has devoted more than half his life to the yachting industry. Growing up in South Florida, Matthew realized early on that he was more comfortable on water than on land, so his interest and comfort in sailing became his passion, which became his career. In 2016, he went from being a yacht captain to a yacht broker, and in 2020, he was nominated for an IYBA (International Association of Yachting Brokers) award for Outstanding Young Professional in the Yachting Industry. In both 2018 and 2019, he was awarded general broker.
His professional growth has accelerated recently, as he is now IYC, One of the world’s largest and most recognizable yachting brands. IYC It is one of the world’s largest international yachting companies with more than 100 professionals in 14 strategic offices around the world. IYC It has expanded its geographical presence in many countries and is continually investing in developing proprietary software solutions to provide advice, insight and support to yacht owners, buyers, charterers and captains worldwide. In addition, it was announced that IYC will soon expand its reach into Southern California.
Mr. Stone, as a member of the IYC team, is deeply committed to the continuing education of yachting for himself and his clients and has a particular passion for new construction buildings. 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 honing his skills to meet the growing demands and interests of his clients. In the media, Matthew is a regular on the AWE Network television series, he sells yachts, and he has been featured in a variety of industry magazine publications.
JustLuxe spoke with him recently about the future of the yachting industry, and how recent events have affected the industry.
JustLuxe: How has Covid affected the high-end charter superyacht market?
Mr. StoneSimply put, the leasing market has forced a restructuring from leasing 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 impact that has allowed for a safer and more controlled environment for our clients. We continue to face logistical challenges with travel restrictions that are constantly changing. However, we are pleased to report that so far in the third quarter, IYC is well past our last three fiscal years.
JustLuxe: In a previous article about yacht trading, I read that selling a mega yacht is a lot like selling real estate. Can you discuss this a little bit?
Mr. Stone: While there are certainly similarities in the process of selling a mega yacht that can be compared to selling real estate outside of that, it differs markedly. The complexity of buying a yacht is much more stringent than a home. You are dealing with complex equipment surrounded by salt water in most cases.
Another example is that most people need real estate, you don’t need a yacht, and for this reason alone, you may only have a few people in the world who could be potential clients for a particular yacht. In addition, when buying a mega yacht, you are buying the ultimate luxury asset. Finally, in my opinion, there is much more emotion when buying a yacht; It is a lifestyle, a dream, a passion, and sometimes there are driving elements. Most people do not buy real estate recklessly.
JustLuxeHow have you seen the luxury yacht market develop in the past few years? Or do you even have it?
Mr. Stone: Yes, absolutely and in all aspects of the industry, from construction methods to the consumer. Technological advances make yachts more efficient and safer. Diesel alternatives allow yacht owners to operate their vessels in an environmentally responsible manner. The consumer (and how they use the vessel) is also evolving as many new buyers enter the market to get family, friends and loved ones together in the safest possible environment.
JustLuxe: Where is the high-end mega yacht charter/charter business heading in terms of challenges and solutions?
Mr. Stone: For the charter market, we will continue to face logistical challenges with travel restrictions. From the customer’s point of view, make sure that you are working with a reputable company like IYC that has a global presence, so that you have the resources and information to make informed decisions about where, when and which yacht you should charter to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Our biggest challenge on the sales side is inventory. It is rare. But, again, having an experienced broker backed by a reputable brokerage with a diverse database allows you to find opportunities that would not normally be available.
JustLuxe: Do you see buyers of these vessels changing in terms of their needs and desires for yachts?
Mr. Stone: Yes, now more than ever. Customers’ desires to be in crowded ports are becoming less attractive as the appetite for distant destinations increases, affecting their needs and expectations of yacht capabilities.
JustLuxe: Finally, where do you see the luxury yacht market growth or not in the next five years?
Mr. Stone: We have no doubt that the yachting market will continue to grow. We will continue to see new buyers entering the market wanting to enjoy their time with family, friends and loved ones in a controlled environment. The needs and desires of experienced owners are evolving. New products enter the market, attracting a wider audience. Economists suggest that the economic expansion that began in mid-2020 will continue, and GDP has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Our industry has adapted and evolved with the times and will continue to do so.