As Covid-19 continues to impact our clients globally, we are continually monitoring the rapidly changing circumstances and reacting accordingly. This week we caught up with Ian Petts, Client Service Director (Monaco), Joel Waterhouse, Assistant Manager (Isle of Man) and Steve Cain, VAT Director (Isle of Man) from our yachting and aviation team to gain a snapshot of some of things they are currently working on to support our clients in the face of ongoing global restrictions.
What is your current focus for Equiom’s yachting and aviation clients?
Joel: We are proactively reaching out to our clients to support them, in particular ensuring that their insurance is maintained, their certification is appropriate and supplier payments are still being made. The very nature of yachting and aviation means that remote contact with our clients is the norm, so working from home doesn’t impact our ability to ensure our clients receive the same quality service they are used to.
The impact on superyacht crew is also a key focus; we are supporting captains, clients and managers with employment contractual obligations relating to these uncertain times.
Many of our captains and intermediaries are also taking this time to catch up on ‘house-keeping’ matters which we are supporting them with - this ranges from reviewing audit preparation and cross checking accounts with suppliers to ensuring that NDAs are in place where required.
Steve: Looking ahead, we have been working closely with owners and client representatives to ensure that their yachts remain MCA compliant and operationally ready for when restrictions are finally lifted. On the aviation side, the number of flights is down 80% so we are seeing little activity.
Ian: Outside of the standard yachting and aviation services mentioned by Joel and Steve, I’m seeing several clients wishing to make changes to their investment mandates to spread risk - for example to facilitate investment in gold. There’s also a great deal of future planning happening; I’ve updated letters of wishes and have also been reviewing equity holdings for businesses that could be impacted by the virus; a fair amount of activity surrounding Covid-19 for sure.
What would you usually be working on at this time of year and how has that changed?
Steve: At this point in the yachting calendar, we would normally be assisting clients to import their yachts ready for a busy charter season and registering clients with Fiscal Agents appropriate to their planned chartering activities. It remains uncertain as to the extent of the impact that Covid-19 will have on the 2020 charter season and there are concerns from shipyards regarding their ability to adhere to contracted delivery dates for new builds and refits.
In relation to aviation, we would normally be assisting clients with establishing new structures for their aircraft and arranging for their registration and EU importation but this clearly isn’t the case at the moment.
Joel: With many shipyards in lockdown, there is little work being completed on superyacht builds and refits. This combined with uncertainty around charters means there is less activity than usual from our yachting and aviation clients. Most of our yachts have settled down where they are and are riding out the storm. In terms of aircraft, we are still undertaking file reviews against last year’s activity so it’s BAU in that sense.
What issues are your clients and their advisors facing due to the current circumstances?
Joel: Yachts are basically stuck where they are along with the crew they have on-board due to the lockdowns. Scott Le Cornu, our Head of Crewing is dealing with crewing issues, and from the administration side we are updating insurers regarding changes to itineraries, facilitating yachts to operate safely where they are and ensuring the crew are fed and watered. Much of the costs for food provisions are invoiced and then settled from our office. For new suppliers this requires a call back to protect our clients from invoice fraud. With more suppliers reducing office work it has been challenging to achieve this but we’re proud to maintain our robust processes in this respect.
Across the business, we are assisting our clients through this evolving situation, proactively reaching out to ensure we’re on the front foot with any upcoming challenges.
If our yachting and aviation team members can assist you in any way during this uncertain time, from ad-hoc advice to support with interpreting the latest guidelines, please do get in touch with Joel Waterhouse.