From an early career crewing yachts, Cindy Frost worked her way up to managing a portfolio of luxury assets including a yacht, private jet and real estate. She joined Centtrip earlier this year, bringing her hands-on experience of yacht operations and luxury asset management to Centtrip’s growing US team.
Hi Cindy, welcome to the team. Let’s start at the beginning. How did you first become involved with yachts and yacht management?
OK, so I’m an American citizen, but actually a Canadian national, and it was yachting that brought me to the US. I escaped the snow and migrated south to live in the paradise of Florida.
I first got involved as a crew member because I'd always had the romantic idea of travelling around the world on a luxury yacht. And it was romantic, in a way, but also very, very hard work.
But I learned a lot about what’s involved in running a yacht; all about the clientele and the levels of discretion and service that are required.
I worked my way up from scrubbing the decks to managing payroll, transferring foreign currencies and learning about the struggles that yachts can have with finances and account management.
And then you switched to land-side?
Yes, that’s right. I became manager for the yacht and eventually I ended up running the homes, the jet and about six different entities for the family office.
I saw how disjointed and complicated accounting for all these asset operations could be. I had reports and receipts being submitted from various crew members and different areas of the yacht, along with management of the aircraft and the homes.
Then, from the captain’s side, you know the level and speed of service they need to deliver. Their itinerary can change at a moment's notice. They may have prepared for Saint Barts but, all of a sudden, they're heading to the US Virgin Islands. So, having an adaptable currency solution, able to access funds in any port of call, is very important.
Inability to access funds is NOT an option. And, of course, there’s very little cash-handling these days because it brings its own problems and risks.
I believe you’ve had some experience of the unwanted attention a yacht can attract.
Yes, we were sailing off Central America when we were boarded by heavily-armed police. It was an intimidating experience because it didn't feel entirely legitimate. We had a lot of cash and other valuables on board, and I felt quite insecure when they came alongside the vessel with their machine guns.
It was unnerving, but I think they were just curious. They were all quite young and I think they just wanted to board the vessel and have a look around.
Nothing came of it, but it made me realise they could just as easily have been pirates as police.
What attracted you to the Centtrip platform?
When I met Jim [Warner, Centtrip COO, now heading up Centtrip USA] he described Centtrip to me and I thought this is exactly what I need in my management role.
The platform is phenomenal and the control and visibility it enables are key. The ability to have different accounts for each asset and to delegate the controls for each specific card gives you control over every area, not just vessels, but jets and properties, as well.
Integration with bookkeeping systems is also a big advantage because it saves so much time and double work. The biggest challenge I had when I was onboard was time management, so anything that saves me time is valuable.
With Centtrip, you can centralise everything, have all the accounting in one place, and have real visibility and control. Seeing things in the office at the same time as the captain gives an extra level of control compared to seeing receipts and reports 30 or 60 days after the fact.
It means we are better able to empower captains to deal with situations when they arise.
And what made Centtrip stand out for you?
Centtrip’s level of service and its knowledge of the client’s needs. Centtrip provides a very personal service.
Here in the United States, the banking system has become very automated. It’s rare that you have a human contact, and yet, especially at the luxury end of the market, I think showing a face behind the brand is key.
That’s what I’m most excited about doing now that I’ve joined the team. I hope my experience will enable me to empathise with – and help solve – clients’ challenges.
So, what did you use before Centtrip?
Like most yacht managers, we had a very disjointed solution. I was getting Excel spreadsheets from some managers, and I was getting hand-written petty cash reports with receipts stapled to them from others. Then I was rekeying everything into QuickBooks, so that was a real challenge. Usually there was an American Express card involved and then either a Visa or Mastercard.
What do you like to do when you have some spare time?
I love to go out on my paddle board. I live by the ocean in South Florida, so I really love taking my paddle board out at sunrise. And then I love taking my dog for a walk on the beach at sunset.
That sounds idyllic. If people want to contact you, Cindy, what’s the best way?
Cindy, thanks for your time and welcome to the team. We look forward to working with you.