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Life Beyond The Galley

The superyacht sector offers a unique work environment, however you may wonder what happens after your yachting days are over?  The Islander Magazine spoke to ex-yacht chef Chris Cutler about understanding the nuances of yachting and exploring a future in a shore-based role.  After a career onboard for thirteen years, he traded ship for shore and earned himself the trust of superyacht crew who look to simplify their finances so they can achieve the lifestyle they want.

What challenges did you experience moving to a land-based role?

It was a planned exit strategy over three years to step down from a position onboard and transition onto terra firma.  When I walked away from my career as a yacht chef, there were many considerations but it was greatly driven by a desire to spend more time with my family.

Some of the challenges I faced were the uncertainty of forgoing a good regular income, gaining the mandatory national qualification for my new career, setting up and managing the day-to-day running of my own business (Chris Cutler Financial Planning) and losing that sense of thrill, excitement and travel benefits all which come with employment on a luxury yacht.

Ex-yacht chef Chris Cutler on the aft deck of M/Y Titan about to start a BBQ off the coast from Sorrento

Within the yachting industry, is there dependence on word-of-mouth marketing for financial planning services?

There is a fine balance to strike between sharing the highs and lows of yachting, and being respectful of industry regulations.  I provide regulated, financial advice for UK domiciled and resident crew and because I’m an ex-yachtie there’s a level of trust in what I say because I’ve ‘been there and done that’.  In particular, I’ve been fortunate to transfer a lot of my skills from working as a yacht chef to my role as a financial advisor such as providing a high level of service, duty of care and planning for unexpected scenarios.

It’s important to be confident in what I represent, and as part of that expectation word-of-mouth referrals from Captains and crew give credibility to what Chris Cutler Financial Planning delivers.  I aim to demystify the process, so relationships are built from when people are starting out as green crew right through to senior positions aboard.

Which service do yacht crew predominantly come to you for?

It’s very broad – I’m approached for everything from advice about savings and investments to retirement planning and personal insurances. There is so much attention on yacht design, charter, brokerage and technological innovation in the superyacht world, but as an industry we’ve not yet pushed the limits with educating crew about the importance of financial planning.  The key element is to be mindful of what’s most suitable for each individual and their circumstances.

M/Y Titan off the Croatian coast

Where do you suggest yacht crew start if they need more information? 

Naturally, I think the majority of yacht crew don’t roll the dice and take investment or wealth management advice from anyone they meet.  It’s highly advisable to speak to a professional expert so they can guide you on the specifics of what aligns best for your situation, such as how UK domiciled and resident crew can make the most of Seafarers Earnings Deduction (SED). The end outcome should never be transactional in the first instance, but tailored to a plan based on a crew member’s long term goals.

Future-proofing on land has parallels with working on a yacht – an innate sense of understanding for thinking ahead, being detail-orientated and putting knowledge to best use.  Indeed, Chris holds a privileged vantage point whereby he understands what’s on the horizon after a move ashore and the long-term impact it can have on others.

By Rebecca Whitlocke