Yacht brokers Eric Chan and David Walder of Simpson Marine in Hong Kong explain what they do, and why.
SIMPSON MARINE was founded in 1984 in Hong Kong by Mike Simpson as a yacht sales and charter company focused on meeting the needs of the developing marine industry in Asia.
Today, the company employs more than 100 professional staff and has a well-established sales and service network across Asia with 17 offices in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Simpson Marine represents some of the most-prestigious yacht brands from Europe – Sanlorenzo, Monte Carlo, Monte Carlo Yachts (except in HK), Lagoon, Beneteau – and the United States (Viking). Simpson Marine has a reputation for delivering exceptional service to prospective, current and past clients in all aspects of yacht purchase and ownership. The company also has a superyacht division based in Hong Kong and charter company in Thailand.
How long have you been a yacht broker, especially in Asia?
Eric Chan (EC): I’ve been a broker for six years, since 2010.
David Walder (DW): I have been a Yacht Broker for nearly 13 years. I started out on the south coast of England in the Solent area before moving to Hong Kong where I have been kept very busy for the past three years. My background with Lagoon and Beneteau has proven to be extremely useful and at the same time I have learned all about Sanlorenzo Yachts.
Why sell yachts, rather than cars or houses, etc?
EC: Influenced by my father, who is the third generation in yachting industry and also the owner of three shipyards in Aberdeen, Hong Kong. I’ve always had a passion for yachting and enjoy spending time in the sun and doing watersports.
DW: I love yachts and boats and always have done, which is why I pursued a job as a yacht broker. I feel very lucky to be in a job that is also my passion. It would be hard to do this job if you didn’t have a passion for yachting. It does take up a lot of your evenings and weekends, as you tend to sell during people’s leisure time.
How often do you get out on boats?
EC: I get on a boat every week, either with my friends and family or with clients introducing and sharing the fun of yachting.
DW: As often as possible and definitely at least once every weekend. On a good week, I’ll also be carrying out demonstrations with our customers and I know am lucky to be able to get out into the fresh air and still call it work.
Ever get seasick?
EC: No, I always enjoy spending time yachting.
DW: I used to get seasick as a child; it was pretty unpleasant, bobbing up and down in the English Channel feeling ill. It suddenly stopped while I was growing up. Now I know to stay warm and keep my mind busy and touch wood it’s never come back.
What role do you serve in the sale of a boat?
EC: I love meeting with boat owners, listening to their yachting story and understand the purpose/ intention of the sale. I will then visit the boat in person to understand her condition, take photos for records and advise the best market price to the owner. We will then market the yacht in various channels, arrange professional survey documents, seatrials with potential buyers, etc.
DW: Essentially we are the bridge between the sellers and the buyers. Our role is to make the process easy and hassle-free for the seller and save their time and energy. Firstly we visit the boat and appraise her. We advise on market conditions and recommend an asking price and offer a prediction of what the achievable sales price may be. We manage all the marketing including email marketing, website promotions, and digital and print advertising. We carry out the viewings for the owner, which can be time-consuming and a distraction from their business, and lead price negotiations. Finally we arrange surveys, conduct sea-trials and take care of all the legal paperwork.
And role in buying a boat?
EC: Listening to the buyers’ needs and expectations about their dream yachts. Bring customers for viewings, answer any inquiries, presentations, sea-trials, deal confirmation and most importantly the after-sales service.
DW: Our main role is to make the purchase fun and straightforward for the buyer. Firstly we need to listen to they type of yacht he/she is looking to buy, what they want to do with it and why they want to become a yacht owner. The next steps would be to help them identify the most relevant models to their buying criteria. Where possible, we aim to get the potential buyer to step on-board relevant yachts to show them around and explain the fundamental characteristics of each boat. We will run the negotiations with the buyers and guide them on pricing and what they should be prepared to pay. Perhaps most importantly, we make sure that the title of the boat is clear to pass. In addition we can assist with finance, insurance and berthing. If buying a pre-owned boat and a surveyor is used, we can explain the surveyor’s report and help the buyer understand any potential issues before the purchase goes through.
How has modern technology changed your job? (phones, WiFi, laptops, websites, videos, photos, etc)
EC: They make our job much easier, especially to seek market information, and we can operate wherever we want. Most of my clients are frequent travellers and have busy personal schedules. Modern technology helps us to communicate and stay in contact, which in turn allows me to deliver the latest yachting info and also report their yacht’s buying/ selling status to them. Also, on the other hand, it helps potential clients reach me more easily.
DW: Technology has made two fundamental changes to our job:
1) Due to the internet, yacht buyers nowadays do far more research into the type of yacht they want to buy online than they would have done in the past. The result is that we may see a buyer much later in the sales process. Whereas when I started out a potential buyer may have come to me when they were at the initial fact finding stage, now they will be further down the traditional sales funnel and already be at the consideration or decision-making stage.
In turn this makes it vital for our company, the yacht manufacturers, and us as brokers to have a strong online presence so that we appear in online searches and our yachts are part of the consideration process for a future buyer.
2) Secondly we are far more accessible to our customers nowadays thanks to the internet, mobile phones and emails which is a good thing. In addition apps like WhatsApp and WeChat make communications far more instantaneous and that does enable us to give quick answers to simpler questions.
How is Hong Kong’s yachting “landscape” changing?
EC: A lot of people have the money to buy boat and buyers are now moving towards the bigger yachts (60ft & up) and the only difficulty is the lack of parking space for these big boats.
DW: The landscape in Hong Kong is continuing to grow despite the shortage of marina berthing. In the past year there have been world-class sailing events staged in Hong Kong and there are rumours of more to come.
This will undoubtedly help to promote yachting to new participants who will wish to be out on the water in their leisure time, having fun and enjoying the beautiful scenery and splendid anchorages Hong Kong has to offer.
What about elsewhere in Asia?
EC: The Thailand, Malaysia and especially Taiwan markets are booming.
DW: Every forecast for Asia predicts that yachting is on the increase and I believe despite some peaks and troughs, this will be the general case.
How do you see the industry (in Asia) changing in five years, and 10?
EC: The market will further expand and more buyers will have the ability to purchase superyachts over 100ft.
DW: The marine industry in Asia is relatively under developed compared to Europe and North America. In the coming five to 10 years, we will see the industry mature. As this happens, I believe we will see improved skilled technical personnel available and better access to yacht parts across the region, resulting in improved on-going support for yacht owners.
What’s the #1 thing a yacht seller should know?
EC: Understand the market price & also his/her boat condition (the better the condition of the boat, the higher the price he gets)
DW: We are the best people to sell your yacht!!!!
What’s the #1 thing a yacht buyer should know?
EC: The boat you’re buying should cover all needs, and the buyer should think about where it will be kept, who will take care of the after-sales service and also provide good prices.
DW: Your yacht is a huge investment. The wonderful memories it will create will be absolutely priceless and well worth every penny spent.