SUPERYACHTS.COM – A Closer Look at Yacht Management Software

Q. It is a common knowledge that running a superyacht is similar to running a business. What is so specific about superyacht financial management that requires a custom solution?

A. Well, there are several key differences. First, the crew and the Captain usually don’t  have any formal accounting training. So the software that they use to report expenditures needs to be simple and straight-forward which most commercial accounting software is not.

Another aspect is the boat does not always have a stable internet connection. So users onboard need a software that can work fully offline, and yet allow the sharing of information between the boat and the office in a very secure way in real time.

Because of that offline requirement the industry has been using Excel and personal finance tools like Quicken to account for millions of euros in expenses each year. And this is what we are changing with our Latitude 365 software – bringing a truly professional financial management tool accommodating those specifics.

Q. Why is it so important to have information sharing in real time when it comes to financial management?

A. Well, most yachts are managed in one way or the other from an office ashore. In order to be able to truly manage what the crew is spending the office needs to have access to real-time data With tools like Excel the information is exchanged only once a month when usually it is too late to ensure that the budget for the month is met.

And when it comes to the question who is responsible for staying on the budget – is it the Captain or the office, the problem is that neither can really manage the budget as they don’t have a complete picture at all times. In many cases the captain is blamed for going over the budget at the end of the year when he never even saw the budget that the office is managing.

Our software allows both sides to have access to all information at all times and track the budget throughout the month in a very simple way. So the office and the crew can truly manage expenses as a team, together.

Q. As with Latitude 365 the users exchange sensitive financial information how do you ensure security of the data?

A. That is a very good question, and a very important one for most yacht owners. As I mentioned before our software allows to work completely offline which means it is not cloud-based. There is no web address that someone can hack into. The way we allow the users to share information is via a synchronization process. And when the data is synced it is encrypted using bank-level encryption. Only the changes to the data are sent and received from the server. If anyone managed to catch such a transmission, first of all they would have only a little chunk of data and second of all would be virtually impossible to decrypt.

We host our servers in a very secure large data center in Germany and can provide a private server solution as well.

The software is also built to allow custom access levels so the office can hide the bank balance or expenditures in certain categories like Crew salaries, for example, so the privacy levels are respected as well.

Q. Who is the software built for? Do the yacht owners use the software as well?

A. The software is truly built for all parties involved in managing a yacht. It benefits the crew onboard making it easier to account for their spending in multiple currencies and manage quote and invoice approvals. The approvals part which is often referred to as Purchase order system and is another specific of yacht management. What Latitude provides is a way to create purchase requests, get them approved by the captain and management, and also notify the crew when the invoices are paid.

The office gets a tool to create truly professional reports with color charts, minimizing possibility of human error so common in Excel. With Latitude they also get the ability to find any information the owner may request within seconds, including the attached scans of receipts and invoices.

When it comes to the owners, we have many clients that install the interface as well. It is so simple to understand and provides such transparency that the owner can click on any number in any summary report to see its breakdown, and see the attached receipts. Which provides complete transparency and allows the owner more control over how his money is spent.

Q. How did you get an idea to create such a software and how many yachts are using the program by now?

A. Well, I come from a finance background and used to manage a family office for a prominent hedge-fund manager in New York who had multiple luxury assets including large private homes. When I joined the office the accounting was done in Excel and I quickly realized that spreadsheets are not only time-consuming but also rather dangerous. Even the most detail oriented person cannot safeguard from making an accidental error that can result in a sizable cost for the owner. And that is how Latitude 365 was born.

To date more than 150 yachts ranging from 20 to 150 plus meters adopted our system, as well as most yacht management companies like Burgess and Fraser yachts, and Latitude 365 is becoming a standard when it comes to yacht accounting.

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