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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"About Shipbroking Ltd" - real or a interesting experiment?

An Interesting development in the world of Shipbroking? Or just another entrepreneurial idea. I usually wouldn't touch this topic but a few people have contacted me asking my advice regarding the terms and conditions (if you can call them that) for a proposed new shipbroking company intent on world domination. They are currently advertising in tradewinds and they go by the name of "About Shipbroking Ltd"

here is the crux of the idea / proposal

(what they are sending potential employees by email without proper vetting)

1. They are looking to revolutionise shipbroking
2. They intend to be the largest shipbroker in the world across all markets
3. There is no salaries
4. You do all the work locally but hand over between 15-30 pct of commission to the parent company
5. In return they let you use their brand name and use their computer systems and back up staff
6. They domicield in the shipping tax haven of Greece
7. No mention of company structure or set up of management and how much control they do or do not exert
8. Bonus and share shcemes that reward loyalty and performance
9. They plan to hit the gound running 1st May 2012

This section is quite interesting


Subject to the supervision and pursuant to the orders, advice, and direction of employer, employee shall perform such duties as are customarily performed by one holding such position in other businesses or enterprises of the same or similar nature as that engaged in by employer.

Duties to be split as follows:

Employer                                                Employee

Position database update.                       Chartering or S&P.
Post fixture service.
C/P issuing.
Phone transfers.

Each party to provide and pay for the following:

Employer                                                                           Employee

Office in Greece.                                                               Local office (or work from home).
Fast internet connection in Greece.                                    Fast internet connection locally.
System server in Greece.                                                     Laptop or PC.
Phone expenses in Greece.                                                  Phone expenses locally (SKYPE).
Shipbroking software.                                                        Local taxes on compensation.
Travel and representation expenses                                     Pensions and health insurance.
for shipbroker dinners or big events                                   Travel and representation
representing the company, always                                      expenses for local or own client visits
subject to management approval.

If these above main terms involved can be of your interest, then please indicate your firm interest latest ........... 2012 in order that our new appointed managing director then can email you the full contract terms.

Best regards
Torben Jensen
Board member About Shipbroking LTD


So my read on this situation is as follows

A few shipping entrepreneurs with an idea and some cash have the following idea which for the boss's means very little ongoing work but the promise of passive cashflow moving forward.

1. Set up an office in the tax free haven of Greece
2. Employ 3 or 4 admin staff, rent a nice but small office
3. Invest in a fairly good shipbroker software package, servers etc
4. Convince brokers that there is a benefit from using said companies name, share info resources and back office staff
5. The tempting bit is there is not investment needed
6. The less than interesting bit is that brokers are basically working for commission only and if they do fix they need to give about shipbroker between 10 and 30 percent
7. Shipbrokers pretty much on their own in terms of cost, travel, training etc.

Look - my first impression is that this idea is quite interesting but then i realised a few things

1. this is pretty much a commission only deal where you keep most of it but you also do most of the work

2. How will the parent company split geographic and market regions. What if I choose say Singapore and another 10 people also want Singapore?

3. How will the standard of service / ethics / training be monitored? Companies run on reputations. If anyone can become a rep in an area how can i be sure the companies reputation will not be sullied and will not effect my business?

4. How will these guys in head office stop internal competition. Anyone in the markets should ask Platou or Clarksons or SSY how easy it is to get keep nice relationships between their own offices? This is not easy as they all compete for a limited amount of business...

5. A problem for About Shipbrokers is how do they stop brokers fixing outside their computer platform ie they use the About Shipbroker name to market their business and then when a lucrative client comes along they set up a separate email system and fix without About Shipbrokers being aware?

6. How does about shipbrokers stop brokers taking all the info, all the big clients and just leave when it suits them?

7. Who are "About Shipbrokers"? The name Torben Jensen is a famous shipping name but who are the backers and the other board members? Is this the Armada, clipper Torben or someone else??

There are many more questions here....the reason i know these issues is because I've thought about starting something similar under the VS banner but came to realise that the idea would be out of control pretty quickly.

Leading shipbrokers work very hard to guard reputations and create business's. They also reward employees with proper salaries not commission only deals. If you really want autonomy start your own business and keep all the spoils

The idea imo is a little bit too clever and lacks substance.

......thats my take anyway - Maybe we should call them ABOUT FACE SHIPBROKING...speak to the hand!



  1. Did your daughter give you that last little joke VS? lol.

    But yeah, seems a little sketchy but to be quite honest, you can't blame them for trying.. Greece is in a world of trouble at the moment and this gives the About Shipbroker guys a way to make money without taking too much risk (high salary expenses, office expenses etc...). This would be more of a realistic idea if About Shipbroker was already an established brand.. Unfortunately, I don't see any experienced broker actually taking up the challenge nor do I see any junior broker being able to build the About Shipbrokers brand. Buttttt what do I know... I'm not even in the industry yet! lol


  2. Hello LN

    They may be domiciled in Greece but Torben is hardly a greek name. These are probably shipping entrepreneurs who will set up in greece for tax and marketing purposes only.

  3. Virtual Shipbroker...you mean Virtual ShipJoker....

    Great article- terrible joke.

    My take:
    A lot of companies nowadays are involving themselves in this idea of micro offices sharing macro facilities. . People want control of their own businesses, but feel insecure to do everything themselves, hence they partner up with larger. companies to split the workload.. and the profits. It does work- though only in areas where there is a framework for control. I.e. if all the brokers were located in same geographical area- with common laws etc. then it may work.

    What happens if a broker fixes a ship, then is completely dissatisfied with the level of Ops that is done in the background? If he refuses to pay About Shipbrokers their stake in the commission- what happens? How is it regulated?


  4. Yes good Point JH. How will internal disputes be resolved?

    The point about micro offices as a trend is cool but it produces a major issue - that of control. In a normal office environment managment is on hand to do what managers do - manage relationships, give advice etc etc.

    If the entire organisation is run on this premise effective management becomes difficult and costly. IMO the more fragmented and distant the workplace gets the more need for control.

    And btw i think my jokes are great. Heres another

    Why did the shipbroker cross the road?

  5. to get his overworked stern some coffee!



  6. Dear VS

    Since the job post came in Tradewinds, what do you think tradewinds should do or should have done before the posting.


  7. Hi VS

    All the what if's sound like my company I work in, only that they pay me peanuts and no comms. I'll stick to my roro for the moment even though sounds a little tempting on he face of it!!


  8. Hi VS,

    Bikafella here!

    I mailed you the question about "Cargo is King" a few weeks back to stimulate a little discussion and was very pleased with your answer.

    Now here's the thing: I saw this ad from About Shipbroking Ltd in Tradewinds and out of curiosity I got in touch - I've been formally qualified as a broker for a long time and have been round the block many many times, I'm always wary of being scammed.

    Now, when someone signs themselves as Torben Jensen, Board Member… etc., that just strikes me as very odd.

    Something not quite right. In Denmark Torben Jensen is like using the everyman name of "John Smith" in the UK so that rang a loud bell in my head. I have met many shipping Danes over the years and whilst he wrote to me that he'd been in the business 28 years we had never come across each other - I can only assume this is a "pen name". I guarantee that you'd never get to meet anyone in the company set-up they propose - if you had to meet with an individual- they'd be out that day.

    In answer to one of your questions - I can tell you that the Senior Gentlemen at Clipper is well known to use his middle initial "G." it wouldn't be him. That whole set-up is not the Danish way.

    It's most likely to be a Greek, entrepeneurial operation, and good luck to them for trying - but all you'd be investing your time and effort in, if you went along with them, is that they may have someone/some people in-putting ship's positions into a database which you'd get access to. You can print out a list yourself of everyone's ships and do it by hand. it takes a while but that alone isn't going to help you fix ships and bring any cash in.

    The essential ingredient that makes the shipbroking business work is having contacts and talking to people on the phone. What is needed is real time cross-table discussion and banter with colleagues and picking up information from your contacts and finding out what your colleagues are picking up from their contacts. Bouncing ideas around. Not possible in their scenario. Take it from me; even in the large brokerages, brokers can't function as effectively from home with access to all their office systems as they do in their office - unless they are just fielding some calls or actually following an on-going negotiation. It just does not work. Otherwise we'd all be working from home all the time - plugged into our main office.

    Working for a firm on commission only is very risky - the only people that do that are either desperate (it happens) or stupid (it happens a lot unfortunately) or they have their own tied business to give them a decent basic (not so common). A number of brokerages in the past gave low basics but then also has commission scheme - but you had to make sure you could live off your basic otherwise, come a quiet market, you could be sure the firm would look for someone else who could generate money where you could not!

    As for Tradewinds Newspaper - I don't think they take responsibility for the jobs they advertise so long as they get paid. They're in it for the money don't forget. Also many jobs advertised are already filled and the firms are just looking for the odd one or two people who may suddenly spring up with an unusual background. Also the Ads are good publicity for the firm. I've applied for jobs through ads but only ever got jobs through personal relationships with the firm. I's not what you know, it's who you know unfortuantely...

    About Shipbroking Ltd's website tells you nothing. You can make a site in a couple of hours from scratch for $50. Many brighter brains than theirs have thought of this before and it never happened.

    You might have more luck sending some money off to that new friend of yours in Nigeria who has $50m he needs you to look after for him….


  9. good points

    will point out that the domain name seems to be registered in denmark

  10. fyg

    The hostname aboutshipbroking.com resolves to the following IP address:

    IPv4 address:

    Reverse DNS:








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    Inetnum: -




    Gigahost ApS














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    Christian Flintrup


    Gigahost ApS


    Gammeltorv 8, 2.


    DK-1457 Koebenhavn K




    +45 3694 9690








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  11. How much is it for the VS Certificate in Hacking?

  12. No money but will take a kidney or your spleen!

  13. Really this is just a sign of the low(er) commission times. There's not as much money to play with to pay for overheads and other operating expenses so they're trying out a business model that cuts these: no straight salaries, pensions, benefits for the brokers; no over heads (rent, phone etc) covered for the individual brokers; low tax regime for the head office; back office in a cheaper domicile etc. The whole model appears to be about maximizing profits for the head shed. Consequently, it all begs the question, what's in it for the client/principal?

    I don't see anything new or innovative on offer here to potential clients. From the client's point of view what value add is there for them? How is it expected to be any different to the myriad of other brokers out there? Is it just-another-shipbroker.com? Why should I, as a client, use About Shipbroking Ltd.? In my view any business that is purely internally profit focused and not customer centric is not likely to succeed.

    To be fair, About Shiproking haven't rolled out the final version of their website so perhaps they will provide something innovative. We'll find out in May.

    P.S. question: what's likely to be the good, all singing and dancing software packages they are likely to use?

  14. thanks contributions....

    Looks like its a non starter....folded pretty quickly

    To the last poster - plenty of packages out there...I like the sdsd guys (shipbroker portal). Good products and they feature my blog!

  15. I understand About Shipbroking had less than a handful of interested parties willing to sign up but this was not enough to move forward with. For a few days their website was down or hacked by some fashion product - but I was assured by the About Shipbroking spokesperson that they have removed that error message and are trying to attract more interest in their Virtual Shipbroking group.

    Personally, I can't see they'd be very effective as a number of issues were raised on your own site highlighting possible problems regarding commissions and collection of same etc etc

  16. Ill give yu a tip bickafella

    there was no hacking...they just realised this wasnt going to happen and they changed the website. The only reason they changed it back is because you contacted them....

    waste of time....move on!