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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

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.


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.


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!



  1. I agree with you Mr. Shipbroker. Someone once told me that an education will earn you a living and that self education will earn you a fortune. I guess it all depends on how much drive you have and how much you really want something. I guess I never really realized how much the industry lacks in professional training especially shipbrokers. I think you should always be looking to better yourself no matter what profession. Kind of makes me feel even smarter from reading your books!!!!!!

  2. Hello Maritime 11. That is the perfect mindset. Well done and thank you for reading my books.

  3. A wise man once said, "If you think knowledge is expensive, try ignorance."


  4. Zubair - Love it (and live by it).

    Many thanks

  5. Years ago, as a Junior Project Manager, somebody gave me a chance and helped me enter in "shipping business" just to discovered how exciting and interesting this industry can be.
    With no sea going experience whatsoever, I always considered myself one step behind colleagues and partners.
    Having the possibility to chose the ICS exams, I finally opted for Lloyds Maritime Academy and their Diploma in Ship Management (Chartering & Shipbroking) which at that time was three times more expensive than ICS. 5,500 euros later and with an incredible bagaje of knowledge, insides and thorough understandings I hit the Shipping market once again. My salary almost doubled and my position in the company suddenly became more obvious.

    Lesson learned? Every penny spent, is an investment in yourself. If you don't do it, nobody will. You might get lucky in pursuing your employer to pay it for you but not many are risking these days.. Plus, if they need someone from middle management up, they will turn their heads to someone with already lots of experience etc.

    Heads up! VS is doing a wonderful job already with his blog and one who would like to break into "shipbroking" should never miss a post.


  6. Wise words Jebus and kudos to your continued learning ideal.

    Hey I have an idea moving forward that I would like your input. I am thinking of starting what I will call 'The great charterparty debate". On one side i need a shipowner the otherside will be me (representing the charterer) and in between will be 2 executed charterparties. One time charter one voyage charter.

    Then over the course of a few months we will debate / negptiate each clause and come up with 'the virtual shipbrokers standard voyage and time charter terms and conditions'. Let me know if you are up for the challenge of representing the shipowner.

    Readers can look on during the debate and comment as they like. it will be a great learning curve for everyone and hopefully at the end of it we have a set of nice workable charterparties that the industry may consider using.

    Let me know if you are up for the challenge representing the shipowners!

    If anyone else wants to be formally involved drop me a line.

    Lets rock


  7. Great idea VS nothing like revising house C/P's during a recession *cough *cough.

    I'd certainly be plsd to join the discussions and offer my 2 cents worth.

    Happy fixing.

  8. A debate sounds nice, a big opportunity for everyone to learn.
    I also doubt that we can come up with something else than the guys at Bimco already conveyed, but at least it would be great for us to see everyone's ideas.


  9. Who said BIMCO are right - arent they a bit biased?

  10. Not necessarily, no. They've been drafting CP's since forever from which it benefits ship owners and charterers alike.
    But a debate on this it would be definitely be interesting. I already have some points drafted based on voyage and tc charter parties.