As a self-described superyacht lawyer, Benjamin Maltby works with a large client base in securing their dream seagoing vessels. Maltby has over 15 years of experience working within the industry and has specialised in a variety of areas including luxury asset law, finance, construction and purchase, and operational matters including taxation, insurance and employment.
Maltby’s decision to work as a superyacht lawyer comes from his love of the sea. His work as a youth for his father greatly influenced his love for boating and yachts. He has taken his passion for the sea and transformed it into a career that he loves to wake up to every day.
In April 2017, Maltby joined his current law firm Keystone Law after being identified as one of the leading barristers in maritime and shipping law.
Tell us about your business and how would you describe it?
I practice yachting and luxury asset law, specialising in finance, construction and purchase, and operational matters including taxation, insurance and employment. I also advise in relation to private aviation and art.
My client base includes some of the most prominent and prolific superyacht owners, as well as finance providers, yards and key suppliers.
I am heavily involved with a range of industry bodies and associations. In addition, I am regularly asked to contribute to leading wealth management and superyacht publications.
What led you to this business?
A long time ago, during my school holidays, I often worked (unpaid!) as a sound recordist for my father, who made television programmes about yachts and watersports. The equipment was heavy and the hours long. In spite of working with many famous celebrities, it was unglamorous work. It did, however, open my eyes to the world of yachting. In those days, there were only a handful of what we would recognize today as superyachts. It’s an industry which has grown quickly. I foresaw how the number of vessels would grow and decided to specialize early on in my legal career.
How do you define success?
Success is spending one’s days doing something you’re passionate about and getting paid for it.
What sets you apart from your competition?
I’m not a shipping lawyer at a loose end in a tough market. I specialize in superyachts. The ownership ‘business models’ couldn’t be more different.
How do you find inspiration?
My clients are a constant source of inspiration. Owning a superyacht takes serious wealth – and that takes a particular combination of intelligence, charm, creativity and hard work. While they have incredibly high expectations, they are fiercely loyal and very good company.
Were you ever influenced by other entrepreneurs?
It’s hard not to be influenced by my clients given that they tend to have very strong personalities. So, yes!
What is the most challenging part of your work?
Having some of the world’s wealthiest individuals as clients can be testing. Juggling work is the biggest challenge, but it comes with the territory.
What was your most rewarding professional experience?
Creating a yacht management company from scratch for a prominent Russian superyacht owner. He owned four vessels. The company I created employed 220 crew and six shoreside staff. It was a time when a great deal of safety and security maritime regulation had just been introduced, and was still bedding-in. Added to that was the challenge of working in a jurisdiction with inefficient service providers and a weak rule of law. In the end, the enterprise was a great success and achieved the original goal of dramatically cutting management costs.
What do you have your sights set on next?
I’m rolling out a fixed fee service for superyacht buyers. As it is, most ‘fixed fee’ legal services are on the basis of a ‘scope of advice’ clause which can be limited to, say, three exchanges of correspondence. Which is a limit that can be reached in minutes. After that, the firms charge like angry rhinos. That may be fine with buyers of oil tankers, but unexpected bills can take the shine off a superyacht purchase.
How is a day in your life?
I often work from home, so I have the twin luxuries of walking my son to school through the picturesque English village in which I live, and starting my day far earlier than those who still choose the daily grind of a commute into the City of London. I do maintain a prestigious London office, which I use for client meetings; but I am frequently invited onto clients’ boats which is a fun part of the job. There are often familiar and friendly faces among the crew, too. I generally work as long as is needed to get the job done, but a healthy work-life balance is important to me.
Choose two of your favorite quotes and write them here
They both come from Britain’s wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill:
“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.”
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
As well as having a passion for boats, I have a soft spot for classic cars. I have owned many over the years, but my favorite remains my 1954 Land Rover Series One. They’re honest, reliable, timeless and classic. As a canny investor, they hold the position as the fastest appreciating classic car.
What makes you smile?
It has to be seeing people out on the water enjoying their yachts with family and friends. Life is short, and wealth, by itself, serves little purpose other than keeping score.
What is your greatest achievement?
Getting myself to the position where I can earn a good living doing what I love, for people who inspire me.
What is your secret talent?
I’m not a bad artist. Watercolour is my preferred medium. I love seascapes and trying to evoke motion with a static medium is a never-ending challenge.
What are you never without?
Access to social media.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
It has to be the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton for his inventiveness, seamanship and sheer tenacity in the face of situations and odds beyond the imagination.
What scares you?
Oddly, while I have owned (and even, while a student, lived on) various yachts, I’m not a strong swimmer. Not being able to touch the bottom while swimming unnerves me.
What’s your favorite vacation spot?
The North coast of Mallorca, because of its lush pine forests, hidden beaches and a deep blue sea. Paradise!
For more information on Benjamin Maltby, go to www.keystonelaw.co.uk