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Listen: Voly CEO Ian Flanagan on how a winning mindset drives his business success

3 February 2023• Written by Sophia Wilson for Voly

The straight-talking CEO of Voly, Ian Flanagan, openly admits that his “willingness to win” is both his greatest asset but also a potential “downfall”.  It’s not surprising that he has a competitive nature given that he started his career as a professional tennis player. But with his financial management platform now used by nearly 1,000 superyachts, it seems to be working in his favour.

In this exclusive interview with BOAT’s digital content director Sophia Wilson, which is available to be listened to in full through Apple podcasts and Spotify, he talks about the  path to success and what the future holds for Voly.

It has been just over five years since Flanagan spotted a gap in the market and founded Voly, a one stop solution for yacht and multi-asset management. The idea was born when Flanagan, who had investments in a foreign exchange company, discovered how “antiquated” some of the on-board systems were. “It shocked me, and still does to a degree,” he says. “We still see huge boats with high profile owners that have built world renowned businesses but some of the yachts are still running with excel spreadsheets and cash.”

As a result, he decided to create a software platform that was specifically dedicated to superyachts and UHNWI. “You have to class a yacht as a mid-category business,” he says. “The captains are awesome captains, but they are not all qualified CFOs or financial directors. As their budgets have got bigger it is trying to help them manage that money in a simple and more efficient way.”

With the Voly system born Flanagan’s next hurdle was to persuade users to adopt the software. “People are stuck in their way, and they don’t want to change,” he explains. “I think one thing the superyacht industry is always guilty of is they are running so fast. The owners are, rightfully because they are paying the bills, demanding people. Everyone seems to overrun and under resourced. As a result, trying to get someone to go three steps back to go ten steps forward has been the biggest challenge.”

Taking on one new industry might have been enough for some CEOs, but not for Flanagan. With the superyacht platform taking off, he spotted another gap in the market – the music industry. Although Flanagan acknowledges they are dramatically “different” industries he says the problem is the same.

“If you replace the superyacht with a band, they are traveling around the world, they are going on tour to 50 countries, they are spending 30 different currencies and they have got a load of people running as fast as they can to make sure the band gets their requirements,” he explains. “You have got a tour manager running as fast as they can with a very demanding artist, a crew of 200 people behind it, a lot of cash being spent and no real way of reconciling it.”

With multiple high-profile artists already on-board Flanagan’s hunch appears to be right. “It’s starting to shape now,” he says. “As with yachting the best thing you can do is listen to the clients and what they need. We have hired a lot of people within the music space and we are building the product from within.”

Despite the success of the music side Flanagan is clear that it will not distract from Voly’s commitment to yachting. “We have got a couple of acquisitions at the moment, buying other businesses within yachting so that we can try and make it even more of a one stop shop,” he reveals. 

Given Flanagan’s success so far, it would take a brave person to bet against his chances of winning. 

The full interview is now available to stream below. 


About Voly

Voly’s financial management platform, mobile app and pre-paid cards are tailored for the yachting industry and can manage charters expenditure and multiple assets such as private jets and new builds, with an integrated FX and payment platform. All these unique features together save captains and crew 75% of financial admin time. Our aim is to save our clients, time and money while improving efficiency and creating visibility. To find out more, visit volygroup.com.