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 © 2020 by Virtualshipbroker Contact virtualshipbroker@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Good Timing - Shows there is always a market for new entrants!

Michael said...
Curious thing:Moments ago I checked my e-mail inbox, and I have been invited to interview with a well-known London shipbroker in April. I applied to them some time ago and had almost forgotten.So with shipbroking at the front of my mind, I decided to check on your blog; and what do I know, the e-book has been released.I don't want to get ahead of myself but I think God wants me to be a shipbroker, haha!(I'm reading your e-book right now).


Michael, if god wants you to be a shipbroker i am not entirely sure if its a reward or punishement!

Just joking - good luck!

The E-Book Is ready to go


Follow the link to the sister blog 'Virtual Shipbroker Extras' and please read the posts.


If you decide to buy - I hope the systems all work and I hope you like the book!

Quick comment regarding payment by paypal - I do not see any of you bank account details or personal information. the one thing i do get is your email but this is unavoidable. the email will never be passed to any other 3rd parties.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Baltic Dry Index - Where is it heading?

The BDI is down another 15 points to finish at 1758.

Want to know the direction of the BDI - the following article from Bloomberg


Baltic Dry Index seen stagnating in next quarter

Wednesday, 25 March 2009
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of world trade, will stagnate in the next three months after what is likely to be a record quarter as annual talks over iron-ore prices stall demand, a survey showed. The index will average 1,786 points in the second quarter, compared with 1,782 last Friday, according to the median estimate of 10 analysts, fund managers and shippers surveyed by Bloomberg. The gauge of demand for shipping commodities more than doubled this quarter as China bought more iron ore.The ore, used to make steel, is the single biggest cargo for dry-bulk ships and annual benchmark prices are negotiated for the start of the Japanese fiscal year on April 1. Prices were actually set as late as May in 2002, 2003 and 2006, and last year as late as June, according to Macquarie Group Ltd.'Iron-ore price negotiations should slow down shipping activity,' said Philippe van den Abeele, London-based managing director at shipping hedge fund Castalia Fund Management (UK) Ltd. The global economic slump is sapping demand and new ships are still being delivered this year, increasing competition for fewer cargoes, he said.The Baltic Dry Index fell a record 92 per cent last year. Global steel production shrank 22 per cent last month, with a 54 per cent decline in the US and 44 per cent retreat in Japan, according to the World Steel Association. Eurofer, the European steel industry lobby group, said that demand dropped 30 per cent this quarter and would likely fall further in the next three months.The estimates in the March 16-19 survey ranged from 1,135 to 2,950 points. They came from Castalia, Lorentzen & Stemoco AS, Drewry Shipping Consultants, Fearnley Fonds ASA, Thurlestone Shipping Ltd, M2M Management Ltd, Freight Investor Services Ltd, Galbraith's Ltd, HSBC plc and Island View Shipping.

Source: Bloomberg

Monday, March 23, 2009

A day in the life

It was requested that I include in the e-book a section regarding a day in the life of a shipbroker.

I have therefore included 4 pages of a typical brokers day

Here is a snippet.


"As he heads back to his building he checks his Blackberry and notices that a message from the Charterer. He quickly scans the message and sees that they have rejected the ship owners offer. The message states that the market has turned in the charterers favor and that they have 4 ships chasing their one cargo. If the ship owners are very keen they need to drop the rate substantially before they will get a counter offer.

- 10 minutes later (2.30pm) he sits down at his desk with a head full of steam. He quickly calls the charterer and asks him some key shipbroker questions such as ‘what is the best price you have seen?’ And ‘If I can get my owner to come in at such and such freight rate will this be sufficient to get a counter?’ The broker is playing every card in his deck. He is trying to pin down the charterer.


It was fun to write this section actually - brings back memories of many different situations


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Insiders Guide to Shipping - tip

Did you know that over 50 percent of the world dry bulk trade is related to the steel industry.

Knowing about Steel products, iron ore, coal, bauxite and alumina will make you an expert on international trade!

Relpy to a comment - explains more about the E-book

I thought I would create a new blog post rehashing a reply i have just given under another comment post.

This makes it more visible and will stop me having to repeat myself regarding the contents of the e-book

Jim wanted to know if I would explain more about the BDI and the 'insider' way it works.

Here is my reply


Jim - I have written about the BDI and will make a commentary regarding its relevance as a barometer of world economic health.

It is not a perfect measure becasue the bdi is amongst other things a reflection of 'trading' techniques by individual companies, Stockpliling / logistics issues, plus seasonal factors.

The term Insider as it will be used in the book refers more to me (the VS) being an insider and thus giving insider and hopefully insightful views and suggestions regarding the the mysterious world of international shipping.

The book will cover

- how the industry works
- discuss all the major player and how they make money
- provide those wanting to get into the industry with suggestions and a comprehensive method to improve ones chances,
- help those already in the industry with methods to leverage their positions....etc etc.
- plus some special surprises.

Hope this explains. Thanks again for the encouragement, im happy you enjoy the Blog.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Baltic Dry Index (BDI) - Down 70 points

Down 70 Points to 2201. Market eased in all areas due mostly to the declining level of grain stems from South America. What many scribes fail to realise that although the BDI is a good general indicator of the strength of the world economy it is also subject to 2 major factors that are short term issues and have nothing to do with long term economic strength.

1. The cyclical nature of trade expecially with regards to agricultural products.
2. Stockpiling..


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Insiders guide to Shipbroking - Tip

I think I should explain exactly how the chartering of a ship fits into the wider international trade process.

Here is a typical example.

1. A buyer identifies a need for a certain bulk product. Could be coal, oil products, grains etc.

2. The buyer finds a seller through commodity brokers, commodity exchanges, or through direct relationships.

3. They begin a negotiation. The negotiation will 10-15 core elements and another 100 or so secondary elements.

They will need to agree on the specifications of the product, the amount of product, the timing of the purchase, any banking and finance issues etc etc.

Importantly they will need to agree on a number of core shipping issues

- Will the product be sold FOB or CIF. IE who will handle and pay for the shipping?
- Timing of ship arrivals at both load and discharge ports
- Clarification of stevedoring and port issues at load and discharge port.
- Ship loading and discharging speeds
- Demurrage and Despatch rates
- Shipping related docuimentation process
plus a few more.

4. During the process the buyer or the seller may be in contact with shipbrokers and shipowners checking freight rates. Once the sales deal is signed off, the next step is the charter a ship!

Bring in the Shipbrokers..Finding and fixing a ship can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 weeks, depending on market conditions.

Intersting point.
Sometime the cost of shipping (freight) can be higher than the price of the actuial commodity being sold. This happens regularly with low priced high volume cargoes like iron ore and coal.

Any questions about the process? - drop me a line.

Your VS

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Negotiation Tip

Over the years I have negotiated total freight deals worth between USD 800 million and USD 1 billion Dollars.

In addition, I bought my house at 25 pct under market and my car 6k below the ticketed price.

So whats the number 1 rule for effective negotiation?

Have nothing to lose - that way you always win!

Remain detached and always have options'.

'Inside Shipbroking' contains my top 10 tips for negotiation succuss.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Shipping Stocks - What makes a good bet?

Reuters reported Today

Sinotrans Shipping (0368.HK) vaulted 15.1 percent to HK$1.91 after the Chinese shipping group, partnered with DHL [DHL.UL], reported a better-than-expected 146 percent increase in 2008 profit at $347.13 million.
Sinotrans has one of the lowest operating costs among listed regional peers and unlike others can operate profitably even with the Baltic Dry Index at 2,000 points, said UBS in a note on the earnings.

The key point with sinotrans is the 'lowest operating costs' amongst competitors.

Forget future earnings (because they are unrealised) and dodgy asset evaluations, find companies with low debt and low operating costs!


Can I still get a shipping job in this economic climate?

I have been asked this question from a few people now.

Yes it is true the shipping induistry like most other industries is currently going through a contraction phase. People 'are' losing their jobs and there is pressure on salaries. So far the damage has been small but who knows where this economic mess will take us.

But the good news is this. In down times there is always room for trainees, juniors and those who are generally less expensive. Established fat cats may be slow to agree to new terms, be pushed out or even retire in Fiji with there already made nest eggs. Remember the baby boomers need to retire eventually so the climate may quicken this up - There is always room for new people..

There is however a challenge for new entrants to be a bit creative in the way they enter the industry. Timing, patience, thinking laterally, willingness to learn, the ability to move - these are all attributes that one may need. There are a myriad of strategies open available.

You may be just that good a candidate that any shipping company would be crazy not to hire you. Hands up if your father owns 20 ships - you are hired!

The sheer size of the shipping industry means that opportunities will always be there.

The geographical distance between people also means that we are not all clamouring for the same jobs and the same piece of cake.

I have been amazed since starting this blog the different countries and cities people have been contacting me from. No 2 have come from the same area.....

Its all good...

Yours VS

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Baltic Dry Index - BDI - Up 83 points

A nice jump overnight led again by the Panamax's. Capes also up for the first time in a while. The grain houses active taking tonnage to secure freight for this seasons harvest.

Yours VS

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Baltic Dry Index - BDI - up 50

Steady gain - up 50 - biggest rizes in the panamax size. period activity quite strong.

Sitting at 2084 points..

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Insider guide to Shipbroking - Tip

Shipbroking is the generic term people in the industry use to describe commercial shipping executives. Its the thing you write on your arrival card when you arrive in a new country. The role and the skills arent just reserved for shipbroking companies.

Shipbroking and its skill base are used in the following jobs..

a) Shipbroking
b) Bulk shipowning
c) Freight trading / Shipoperating
d) Cargo chartering

Although there are slight differences in the skill sets the jobs are pretty much interchangeable.

Amongst the 4 headings above are numerous subsets which make up the entire bulk commercial shipping fraternity. Its a wide and varied game. Some segents pay more than others. Some positions are more powerful than others and some are easier to gain entry to than others. At the end of the day entry throws you into the wider industry melting pot and movement is the norm rather than the exception.

Check out my E-book 'Inside Shipbroking' for full explanations and strategies relating to working in all the above environs!

Hi to the 'followers'

I just want to say thankyou to those who have decided to sign up as followers. Great to know that people (4 sofar - yay) are following my blog. The blog has been up around 2 weeks and the feedback has been great.

Feel free to drop me a line every now and then and let me know if theres something in the content that particularly interests you. That way I can add content that might help people in a more direct way. (all anonymously if need be - i know the shipping world can be a secretive lot)

If not its damn cool anyway - keep surfing my site and hope the blogs are informative..

The Virtual Shipbroker

Opportunities in a sea of discontent

Its easy to get down on yourself and the world with the constant stream of negative stuff out there. My suggestion is to be on the front foot and always look for opportunities.

They start to surface everywhere. I hear that bus companies are going through a staggering growth phase. If your worried about your job 'get your bus lincence' on the weekends....im not kidding either..

In shipping I see opportunities. Although the market is shrinking due to falling freight rates and a a few banckrupsies here and there, we can see opportunities emerging. Some well placed shipowners/investors with cash reserves are still holding out for further drops in vessels prices. They would also be well advised to keep an eye on trading and mining companies. A few cashstrapped miners could do with nice JV partners to help them through the tough times and then ride the waves when prices jump back. Nothing better than a nice cosy relationship (read 2 bucks above market) with an exclusive inhouse charterer...

Any investors out there with a few bucks let me know. ...i have contacts


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shipping Stocks

With regards to listed shipping companies - Look for those with uncomplicated structures. the devil is in the detail. Some publicly listed shipowners have 'sister' privatley owned affiliates who regularly get the cream when it comes to good paying business.
The public company sometimes becomes a vehicle for raising funds and avoiding responsibility. Most though are solid firms doing their best in such a touch market situation.

The Virtual Shipbroker