Who is?

Hi. I am a shipping company director, transport academic, author, family man and all round nice guy. I have worked as shipbroker, shipowner, freight trader and bulk charterer, in senior positions, with some of the largest and most disrespected (joke) companies in the world. Ask my advice on all things shipping and you will receive my blunt and always honest answer. Hang around to learn more about chartering and ship broker salaries, chartering and ship broker jobs, chartering and shipbroker recruitment agencies, cheap freight, maritime education, chartering and ship broker qualifications, become a ship broker, tips on how to be a successful bulk shipping executive, philosophy, Zen and the art of shipbroking, and much more. Yours The Virtual Shipbroker (recently proclaimed the guru of shipbroking) Copyright © 2009-17 by Virtualshipbroker

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Welcome to Estonia

Whenever someone buys a books from a country that has never bought a book, it gives me a huge kick! Welcome to the reader from Estonia. Small in size (1.5 million people) but Estonians pack a Baltic punch!

Quote wikipedia

Since re-establishing independence, Estonia has styled itself as the gateway between East and West and aggressively pursued economic reform and integration with the West. Estonia's market reforms put it among the economic leaders in the former COMECON area.

Unqte

You rock Estonia!

How I landed my first job 20 years ago!

Dear Mr. Onassis

Thank you for your letter of April 17. After careful consideration I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me a chartering position with your firm.

This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite your companies outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet with my needs at this time. Therefore, I will initiate employment with your firm immediately following graduation. I look forward to seeing you then.

Best of luck in rejecting future candidates.

Sincerely,
The Wannabe Shipbroker
 
(and I have never looked back!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Shipbroker trainees - be careful

From a reader.

Quote

Since its my first post here, congratulations for the interesting blog. One question none did.

I am about to start in an office, no salary in the start.(yes, it happens too, not always rosey). My future boss suggested that my bonus will be 10% on commissions from fixtures i deal. He said that this is the bonus percent in the market but i couldnt crosscheck it. Could you answer what is the basic bonus or how it is calculated in general, not for experienced pros that can negotiate it.

thanks in advance,

best wishes to your blog

Unqte

February 21, 2010 11:22 AM

The Virtual Shipbroker said...

Be very careful. Your boss could be a crook. If you have no experience whatsoever then how will you do any deals? It could take you 2 years to put a deal together so how will you live?
If i was you I would negotiate a minimum wage. Dont expect any income for atelast 1 maybe 2 years!
If it is commission only - then 10 percent is terrible. Commission only should be 50 percent.

If you do not take the job - drop me a line with the name of the company involved please! Firms taking advantage of people will only give the industry a bad name!

Yours
VS

Unqte

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Answer - Demurrage and freight rate relationships.

Ok guys - here is the short answer.

Gary is correct that most prevalent reason is that charterers think they are being conservative by allowing for more time then is actually needed. So they think that by agreeing to slower rates that they will somehow protect themselves from demurrage and other costs.

The problem with this idea is that the shipowner factors this extra time into the freight rate. So although they may be saving on demurrage and possible even making some despatch money - the chances are they are losing money overall due to the higher freight rate charged by the shipowner.

(remember a shipowner arrives at a voyage freight rate by calculating costs and the time taken to perform the voyage. Each minute means more cost)

So the truth is that when charterers stuff around with terms that arent back to back with the suggested times from the port authorities, they are doing so at a cost. Charterers think they are being clever but the opposite is sometiem the truth.

I should explain alittle more about how load and discharge terms are agreed. This will show why charterers do this.

In the sales contract these loading and discharge terms are agreed (depending on cnf or fob but thats not important for this discussion). Then these terms are used by the charterer in the shipping contract. The charterer is under no obligation to go back to back with the sales terms. This is when many charterers decide to be conservative and slow the terms they give the shipowner.

Part of the problem is this. Non shipping companies (mining co's trading companies, agri firms) hate it when they see demurrage bills.

Its very visible and is seen as a huge cost. Accountants worst nightmare.

A higher freight rate is a commercial problem - sales or purchasing departmetns nightmare.

The problem is they do not understand the link between this cost and the freight rate. The higher the demurrage bill may infact be in direct proportion to a smaller freight rate. The lower the demurrage bill may mean they are paying more for freight. So really the overall exercise is borderline futile!

They appear in different parts of the accounting ledger and different part of the corportate boffins brain!
If you know how to run a voyage estimation you can see in real life how these costs and revenues interplay with eachother. An important process for any shipping executive to understand. I cant tell you how many contracts and disputes I have resolved very quickly just by understabnding this interplay!

This is advanced charterering 2.1

Any questions just shoot!


Yours
VS

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shinc, Shex and why they are manipulated.

Who can answer this?

qte

Hi VS,
I was wondering why do Voyage Charter quotes alwayz differ from the port quotes. I mean why charterers give SHEX terms when we know its SHINC? Why Loading rate is given 10000 when its 15-20000 in actual ?

unqte
 
Brgds
VS
 
(BTW 50 followers of the blog - wahoo...thank you followers. You will be rewarded with shipping riches and eternal life....wog, wp)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Broker (young or experienced) postion in Delhi

As you guys know I have recently made a call to arms to chartering firms looking for trainees. Sofar I have had 3 firms contact me. I have then sent the open trainee position to selected people on my contact list (those who have purchased a book). I have not sent open positions to everyone but instead only to people from the country in question. ie If the job is in South Korea I have sent the position to friends in South Korea!

So it pays to get on my contact list if you get the chance.

Having said that the following reputable shipbroking firm has asked me to publish the following position open in India and hence most suitable for Indian nationals. Thank you to Anil MD of Westward Shipping!

Qte

Hello VS,


Thanks for your response. Here's a link to our website www.westwardshipping.net which will give you a fair idea about my company.
Following our sale of 50 percent equity in the Joint Venture which was entirely set up and managed by me, I now intend to interact with an individual happy to live in Delhi ready to take the challenge of taking the company back to reorganizing the Chartering business. The individual will be based out of Delhi and ideally have Crude Tanker chartering experience having relationships with VLCC owners. He should consider himself capable to take on developing dry bulk in addition to being hands on tankers.
As for salary and terms it will need to be discussed but will certainly be in line with the demands of the industry.
Best regards

Anil Bhasin (Managing Director)

Unquote

Good luck!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The ultimate advanced chartering tool (a snippet of the amazing tutorial)

As you guys know the estimation pack contains an 82 page tutorial. Quite a few of you have asked to know a little more about how the tutorial works. The feedback sofar (from buyers) has been overwhelmingly great.


On average it is taking students atleast 2 weeks to work trhough all the examples. It is not easy and the workload is the same as a 6 month chartering course. It is definately not something you can complete over a weekend.

Anyway - In order to help those of you who are undecided I have given below a few 'snippets' of what you can expect. The snippets are in no particular order but they should give you the idea of what you can expect in each and every example.

This workbook will have YOU moonlighting as a chartering expert (of the highest order) in a very short period of time.

Whatever your role - Think like a shipowner, think like a charterer, think like a freight trader, think like a fixing machine!

Thats the promise
VS

+++

The shipowner (from example 3 in the workbook)


"Despite the MV Watsons uncompetitive position, Joe is actually very keen to see if he can fix this cargo. The reason being is that Odessa is an excellent destination for him. His company has 2 major contracts from the Black Sea back to South Korea so if he can send his ship into the Black Sea this sets them up nicely (economically speaking) for this ships next employment.


This is an important point. Being a successful shipowner is not just about getting the best price for the voyage at hand. It is also about positioning ships in order to reap the benefits from subsequent voyages.


First task – Joe runs his voyage calculation with the available information".


(Full Voyage calculation follows)


The charterer (From example 1 in the workbook)


Ms Chan is the shipping coordinator for INDINED COAL LTD. She is based in Jakarta. She is not quite sure how she became involved in shipping because her background is a business degree from the University of Java. Having started at the company in logistics support she soon found herself involved in the crazy world of chartering ships. She has been on a huge learning curve.


When she first started out chartering ships for the coal, she had no idea what she was doing. To make matters worse the freight rates that shipowners and shipbrokers were quoting seemed to be very random. Some were high, some were low. One day they were x amount and the next day the prices had changed dramatically. On a number of occasions she was caught out very badly and the company lost in excess of USD 200,000 on a shipping deal gone wrong.


She felt helpless and completely powerless at the hands of the fast talking shipbrokers and the hugely experiences shipowners. She could not help feeling like a lamb being brought to the slaughter.


Then things changed. One day when surfing the internet she stumbled across the Virtual Shipbroker Blog and decided that the ‘VS Voyage Estimation Pack’ was the exact thing she needed. She followed all the real life examples and within weeks she was an expert.

No more would she feel so helpless. She could run the voyage numbers herself and not just take the brokers word. She could access market reports and insert the relevant TC IN market rates without having annoyed the seemingly grumpy, perpetually busy shipowners. She could give her marketing and sales department’s instant advice re CNF vs FOB market rates. She would also learn a new transferable skill and maybe one day become a shipbroker or even a shipowner (She likes golf and they always seem to play golf!)


The Shipbroker (from example 4 in the workbook)


After he sent the order to Joe Shipowner, Orlando then rang the charterers to tell them about the ship. It’s important to register the ships interest just incase another broker is trying to do the same. Orlando also managed to gleam from the charterers that their ‘ideas’ are USD 9.50 pmt. This IDEA is based on charterers feeling for the current market.

Armed with this information, Orlando decides to run a voyage calculation just to see if the charterer’s ideas are realistic. Luckily for him he has run this same calculation 50 times before so it is already set up on his “VS Voyage estimation software’. All he has to do is enter the ships details and the current TC IN market rate for a ship like the Jingo Jingo.


As a broker Orlando has access to lots of market information. He reads market report and speaks to shipowners and charterers everyday. In his considered opinion Joe Ship Owners vessel – the MV Jingo Jingo is worth around USD 14,500 per day on a time charter basis.


The freight trader (from example 3)


Enter Fred the freight trader. Orlando explains the situation to Fred. Fred knows the Indian market very well and he has experience discharging ships during the monsoon. He knows it can get ugly but if Fred can fix the right terms with Mumbai Steel then he can limit his risk. He also needs to be able to fix one of the 5 ships on a time charter basis at a reasonable hire rate.


With some work, some organisation and some luck, he could make a few hundred thousand dollars in profit.


Orlando agrees to send Fred the descriptions and the time charter ideas for three of the most likely ships.


Here are the ships

(the tutorial goes through calculations for three different ships for the same requirement) 


++
Happy Fixing
The Virtual Shipbroker
(any questions just drop me a line)

To Buy the pack click here

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shipbrokers / chartering people are everywhere

Even in landlocked Bolivia. Sold a book to a Shipping executive in Bolivia today. Amazing place. Check out lake Titicaca if you are ever in the region.

Just shows how many people are innvolved in shipbroking one way or another. Every country in the world except maybe the Vatican? (is the vatican a country or just a legal precinct? anyway I digress)

Your rock Bolivia!

(getting better soon)

VS

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Under the weather

Sorry I have been quiet - recovering from a virus caught from one of my flee biten children. Great fun!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A huge kick in the pants to the bulk shipping and chartering industry.

Someone who runs a shipping company (a friend of mine) asked me today if I thought that he should put his young chartering people through the ICS shipbroking exams. In essense the question was - is it worth it!

So here is my kick in the pants to the industry (and my friend). Those of you who read the blog will know that I occassionally go on a rant - so hang on!

Starts with a rhetorical question.....just to add drama. Can anyone explain to me why in shipping are we so reluctant to train our people properly. How many industries, with such high salaries and supposed levels of professionalism, spend so little time and money on education and professional development? The answer is NOT MANY.

There are quite a few lawyers who read this blog. Ask a lawyer how many years of study and how much yet to be earned cash it cost them to get accepted into an industry that in the main pays LESS than shipbroking. Ask the same thing from doctors, dentists and even merchant bankers.

Yet we as a community of shipping professionals balk at a usd 3,000 professional course. Not only do we balk at the ICS course (for beginners) but the the levels of professional development training for already experienced chartering people is virtually non existant. USD 3,000 is the price of lunch (and karaoke) at many shipping function ive been too. Consider the size of the deals being done and the commissions being earned and you will see that someone is literally taking the mickey.....

Part of the problem - I agree - is that there is little in the way of creative and value based education available.

BUT

One thing I know for sure. If you are a 5 year, 10 year or 20 year chartering professional, whether that be a broker, a freight trader or a charterer and your career is on the brink YET you cannot run a voyage estimation, for example, then you only have yourself to blame....

If your career is at a crossroads, and yet you personally fail to intimatley understand your client business, then you only have yourselves to blame.

If others in your company or in your market constantly do more deals than you - yet you do not know how to properly decipher every clause in a charterparty - then you only have yourself to blame.

OR YOUR FIRM IS TO BLAME (SAME THING)

Shipbroking, and the monetary benefits and privileges it affords those lucky to be enough in the industry, is in my opinion taken for granted by many. No-one owes anyone a living, and increasingly those with better skills and better education will reap the rewards. That goes for individuals and companies alike.

And if you run a firm, that last year made millions in profit, and yet your staff are underqualified and lack important shipping knowledge - hold off on the ski trip and get them up to speed. If you dont - your competitor will!

Cheers
VS