YATCO’s Broker of the Month series examines the influences and catalysts that brought these brokers into the world of yachting, who influenced them, and what they seek to change in the industry.
Featuring Simon Goldsworthy, Senior Superyacht Broker of Edmiston & Company
How did you get your start in yachting?
In 2001, I was working as a Headhunter based in London and recruiting finance people across Europe, and while moving companies, the job I was going to fell through because of the dot-com bubble bursting.
I’d always loved boats, sailed in my spare time and used to buy yachting magazines whenever I was at the airport, but I’d never given even a moment’s thought to this interest being a career. Then, literally a day after I got the news about the job falling through, a chance meeting with a friend and a big lunch (with quite a bit of wine) led to me agreeing to do my Yachtmasters with him and both of us getting jobs as deckhands on a superyacht.
I then worked as yacht crew for a couple of years, and then in another sliding door moment, I had a chance meeting with Jacqui Lockhart at Campers & Nicholsons on board the yacht I worked on at the time that led to a role in their Antibes office as their first ever Trainee Broker.
I went from earning over £100k/year to earning €13,000/year, and my parents and friends all thought I’d lost my mind, but it was the first job I’d ever had where I immediately realized I was tailor made for it because I could combine my sales skills with my yacht interest and language skills.
The first couple of years building my client book was extremely hard, and there were times when I nearly threw in the towel, but gradually I started to make headway and eventually thrived.
Is there anyone in particular who influences you – someone in the industry that you look up to, and why?
When I first started, I worked under Mike Payne at Camper & Nicholsons. He was my Senior Broker so I shadowed and gofered for him and attended all his meetings, and I will be forever grateful to him for teaching me the yacht brokerage ropes and the fundamentals. As a senior broker now with my own trainees, I now know how time-consuming training someone can be, but Mike was always patient and spent a lot of time educating me on our long drives to Viareggio and beyond to visit yachts and shipyards. I owe him a lot and I hope he’s proud of what I’ve achieved since then.
What do you enjoy most about the yachting industry and what do you wish you could change?
It’s the variety of our work which I enjoy the most.
Each client is different, each yacht is different, and as a broker, each deal is different.
I’m certainly very rarely bored and there just is no “typical” day in the life of a yacht broker. In any given day, I can be dealing with marketing, yacht management, recruitment, negotiation and legal issues, and talking to half a dozen nationalities in several different languages. Sometimes it’s hard and it’s definitely a rollercoaster, but it’s certainly never boring.
One thing I do wish I could change is that I’d like there to be some barriers to entry and professional standards in the brokerage profession. In my business, there are perhaps 100-200 professional brokers worldwide that I interact with who will add value to a sales or purchase process for their clients, and who have some ethical standards. The majority of these work for one of the well-known brokerage brands. But unfortunately there are at least five times that number who call themselves yacht brokers but either know just enough to be dangerous, or are unethical cowboys who would sell their grandmother to make a commission.
It’s far too easy for someone to set themselves up as a yacht broker without knowing the first thing about what they are doing, and it’s those “brokers” that sometimes give the professional brokers a bad name. I’d like there to be a qualification and licensing, but sadly because of the international nature of the business, I fear it will never happen.
Do you have any advice for someone wishing to join the yachting industry?
You have to love boats and the sea rather than money and perceived glamour. And be prepared to work your ass off and grind if you want to be successful long term. Yacht brokers come in all shapes and sizes, but I’ve never met a lazy and yet still successful yacht broker. The one thing all the brokers that do well have in common is that we are all ready to get up at 4am for an early flight and spend time on the road away from our families.
What are some of the challenges you come across at work, and how do you approach them?
The biggest challenge in my business is building a client relationship that’s more than just superficial.
You have to be aware that our clients have huge demands on their time, and even if their yacht purchase or sale is your biggest priority, it’s definitely not theirs. Unfortunately, the nature of the business and its glamorous side does attract the wrong kind of people though, and it’s navigating your way past and through them that I find the hardest.
Tell us about your greatest accomplishment.
I’m proud of some of the new build projects I’ve helped to deliver, and it’s certainly an amazing experience to cruise on a yacht which you once saw start life as a line drawing in a design meeting.
I think preserving a work-life balance away from yachting is another achievement.
I work very hard and my phone is never turned off, but I live in a beautiful part of England, have great friends outside of yachting and a good family life away from work. That’s not always easy to balance but I’m fortunate to have an understanding wife. These days, I’m also lucky enough to be able to choose the clients I want to work with, and when there is mutual respect and a nice relationship that really helps with the job satisfaction.
What is your favorite yacht currently for sale and why?
I’m a big fan of KISMET, the 95m (3213ft) Lürssen that just recently sold. I saw her a couple of years ago and had a detailed tour, and I was blown away by the attention to detail that the owner and his team had put into her design and build. They really tried to think of everything.
LADY E, the 74m (244ft) Amels is another one I like currently, if I’m allowed two. They did a very sympathetic 6m (19ft) extension at Pendennis and she has a very calming interior design. She’s probably what I’d buy if I had all the money in the world. I’ll have to sell a few more boats first though!