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January 2011

Living the SuperYacht Lifestyle

Superyacht is running a story highlighting 10 New Superyacht Playgrounds.

  1. Ao Po Grand Marina, Thailand
  2. Lusail Marina, Lusail City, Qatar
  3. Marina Bizerte, Tunisia
  4. The Victoria International Marina, Canada
  5. Yas Marina & Yacht Club, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  6. Port Adriano, Mallorca, Spain
  7. Marina Pez Vela, Costa Rica
  8. Karpaz Gate Marina, Cyprus
  9. Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, British Virgin Islands
  10. Porto Montenegro, Montenegro

Perhaps not surprisingly, none of them are in the U.S.   North America is represented on the list by Canada--specifically the Victorian International Marina at the southern tip of beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

In more yachting news, SuperYachtWorld reports that in April, San Diego will play host to DeLUXE San Diego a new luxury lifestyle event focusing on superyachts, private aircraft, fine automobiles, jewlery, watches and more...  

For those of you interested in the superyacht lifestyle (or working with those who are) this is probably an event worth checking out.

January 'Wealth Report' now available

Wealth Report

The January 2011 Wealth Report Newsletter is now available for Members.

In this month's issue:

  • Holiday Retail Round-Up
    Luxury returns to glory days, pockets of weakness remainin mainstream retail.
  • Luxury Firms Latch On To China Opportunity
    Newly minted millionaires love top-flight luxury names; high-end firms cater to the demand
  • Luxury Institute WealthSurvey:
    Wealthy Consumers in the American Community 
  • Survey:
    Growth Trends and Leading Geographic Markets
  • Luxury Brand Status Index (LBSI) – Women’s Skincare
    Bvlgari, Christian Dior earn premium prestige with exclusivity, Kiehl’s and La Mer noted for quality.                      

Members can access this report and an archive of past reports on our website (login required). 

The report is produced by the New York based Luxury Institute, a uniquely impartial, independent and objective ratings and research organization that is the global voice of the high net-worth consumer. 

Amex and MasterCard See Growth in Luxury Spending by Consumers


  • After Holiday Splurge, Taste for Spending Returns (
    " MasterCard Worldwide found that 61% of shoppers surveyed in mid-December said they don't plan to cut back on spending in 2011, even after their holiday bills come due...Most surprisingly, many consumers showed that they are were comfortable making pricier purchases. Evidence of this emerged this month when high-end stores such as Nordstrom (JWN, Fortune 500) and Saks (SKS) posted a surge in their store sales for December, possibly even stealing sales away from other retailers."
  • Who's Buying All That Luxury? Not the Rich ( Wealth Report)
     A new report by American Express suggests that there is a new group of consumers spending on luxury items. They are calling these folks "Newcomers" as they were not in the market for luxury goods before the recession. They are mostly women, about 30% GenX, 30% Baby Boomers, and about 10% Gen Y.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Redhead!

Gretchen knows marketing.  She gets it.  

From her witty, memorable, and benefit-oriented tagline to her great market reports, she delivers the competence and knowledge that her affluent clients seek.  She understands that good marketing is about telling the right stores and always delivering on promises.  

In years past, that understanding has put her among the top performing agents in Kona, Hawaii.  This year it has also earned her recognition from the West Hawaii Association of Realtors as Broker of Year.  

Curious as to how she found success?  Here's her story in her own words...

Congratulations Gretchen!

Where the Rich Plan to Invest in 2011

Asset allocation

According to a study by the Institute for Private Investors published in the Wall Street Journal, very wealthy families will be looking to move money out of the U.S. this year by increasing their investments in global stocks.  You can get more details on the study with some commentary in this post on the Wealth Report.  

The chart above shows the percentage of wealthy respondents planning to invest in those areas. I'll leave it to the cable news pundits to blather on about the bad news.   The good news is that fully 30% of these families (80% of whom have assets of over $50 million) plan to put money in real estate this year.  

Wealthy Mystery Shoppers

Mysteryshopper Is your prospective homebuyer a testy multi-millionaire who makes gruff demands and takes lots of notes?  If so -- and if you were in the financial services business -- you might be dealing with a wealthy Mystery Shopper trained to evaluate your professionalism.  

UBS, the global financial services firm, is one of several firms which have used wealthy Mystery Shoppers for years to help fine tune the services the companies’ wealth advisors offer.  One top executive at USB says the idea is to provide deluxe service no matter where in the world the bank’s ultra-affluent clients go.  He compares it to offering the ‘Lexus experience.”

While Mystery Shoppers may not be active yet in the luxury housing market (as far as I know), it’s interesting to look at the process in a related business – investment services. It’s also useful to look at what mystery shopping has taught UBS. 

Here’s how it works.  USB recruits wealthy individuals (minimum net worth of $2 million), trains them, pays them well, and sends them out to evaluate one of USB’s financial advisors and one of the competitor’s.  Shoppers are not clients of the bank and agree to not become clients for at least one year.

Here are just a few of the 142 factors Mystery Shoppers use to evaluate an advisor (Try substituting REALTOR for the word advisor):

  • How long did it take the advisor to respond after the first query?
  • Did the advisor mention his or her certification when introducing himself or herself?
  • Were the advisors clothes clean and smart?
  • Was the advisor prepared for the meeting?
  • Did the advisor make generous use of graphs, charts, pictures, etc…and use language that was easy to understand?
  • Did the meeting take place without major interruptions?
  • Did the advisor listen closely to what you had to say?

Here are some conclusions from the Mystery Shopping:

  • The first impression is critically important
  • Advisors who score well are excellent listeners (clients want you to understand their needs)
  • Client experience is more important to a continuing relationship than portfolio results
  • Good advisors:
    • Ask a lot of questions
    • Are organized and inquisitive
    • Are detail oriented
    • Take notes
    • Have a concrete plan
    • Perform a detailed analysis
    • Address client feedback in their proposals

Consider the parallels between the delivery of real estate services and investment services and it seems that many luxury real estate agents could learn from Mystery Shoppers in the financial business.