After working with superyacht crew for many years, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you know how crew feel about specific issues. So that’s why we launched the first financial wellbeing survey. We recognize that we have come to accept certain industry limitations, like the lack of pensions provided to crew. We aim to find out whether crew are saving towards pensions themselves and if what they believe is reasonable.
Our survey results so far show that less than six percent of crew (at the time of writing) have a retirement plan included in their benefits. Overwhelmingly, crewmembers believe that employers should contribute towards their pension. Having personally seen the fallout when crew exit the industry with no pension, we would welcome employer contributions.
More than 90 percent view financial education as their responsibility, rather than that of their family or school.
The next area of consensus is maternity leave, with 82 percent of crew believing that the industry insufficiently supports maternity leave. While there isn’t a common consensus about how to resolve this, there is an overwhelming desire for it to change. We believe that talking about the lack of maternity leave, and the resulting loss of excellent female crew, is the first step towards change. Raising industry-wide awareness must come first, and this is something crew can start taking into their own hands.
This leads us to the next area of responsibility: financial education. The responses we received surprised us. More than 90 percent view financial education as their responsibility, rather than that of their family or school. This is one area where we hope to be of service to the superyacht community by providing monthly advice and best practice to help you take control of your finances.
There were 10 questions in the survey and, while we don’t have the space to review them all here, responses to one question stood out to us — “Do you have the financial freedom to leave yachting when it suits you?” Only 30 percent of crew answered yes.
We want to help change that number. We know that setting a budget and developing a savings plan doesn’t sound like the most exciting activity. But we also know it helps provide crew with the freedom to decide to stay in the industry through choice. It’s perhaps why crew ranked salary as the most important criteria in their job searches, over working environment and onboard safety. Having the freedom to choose a career by factors above salary can help drive motivation and increase happiness.
This column originally ran in the February 2020 issue of Dockwalk.