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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

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The role of a shipbroker

An open question to the experienced shipping fraternity out there...

What is the role of a broker? Sounds like a simple question doesn't it....so let me flesh out the scenario a little.

It seems to me that due to the improvement and ease of communication, over the years, and also due to the boom market of the 'naughties' the ship chartering markets have morphed into 'one broker' markets.

20 years ago most deals contained 2 brokers - each representing (taking) a side.

So these changes, so it seems to me anyway, has made the role of brokers into facilitators and mediators - looking to keep both parties happy and somehow steering both towards a mutually beneficial agreement.

I wonder if this is the way the system is supposed to work? In many other commodity trades 'each principal' MUST have its own broker....the reason being is simply because negotiation SHOULD be adversarial...it should be a fight where brokers know who they are representing (no conflict of interest), and then in the wash up....a deal is reached.

Think of it a bit like the law, or a democratic parliament....both sides using everything they can to win!

As it stands, many brokers, in many deals are swinging in the wind, more politician than prize fighter...

I make a call out there to the shipowners and charterers who refuse to have more than one broker involved in any deal....

Who is your broker working for? You OR the other party?
Are you sure this is not 'false economies'?

Having worked as both principal and broker over many years I have seen how easily a broker can influence a negotiation....and i can tell you that when i negotiate these days, whether its a chartering deal, buying a house, buying insurance, trading equities, I always make it a priority to know who is on my side!


The Virtual Shipbroker


  1. In case of operations, who can fight hard for settling claims and clearing balance hire if one party has his own broker while the other has none.
    What about digging information which can lead to unexpected fixtures?
    With one broker, they can save another commission but can also lose more.

  2. what about some news that there have been COA's fixed between first class charterers & reputed ship owners ( reputed means no bad news heard) where the owner and charterer have dealt direct with the chartering team at the cargo owner side doing the documentation bit that a broker assists with.
    good saving for both parties but dangerous precedent, hopefully uncommon

  3. I think most brokers dont think too deeply about these issues but I agree fully with VS. If the market stays low for sometime I expect that only the strong brokers will survive.


  4. reckon its not the right tme for wannabe brokers with their 'customers' taking this approach to cut them out ( either keeping one 'common neutral broker' or going direct biz owners - charterers especially as owners dont mind doing direct biz with first class charterers - some brokers have shifted sides to the charterers desk and act as inhouse brokers for grain & coal companies .
    really groundbreaking stuff and churning going on