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

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The mindset of a good broker

In my new book I discuss the idea that a sense of entitlement amongst brokers is a not so great trait. The premise of the idea is that customers owe brokers nothing. At the end of the day the customer (shipping principal) is taking all the risk. The shipowner has a 30 million dollar ship he or she needs to control and the cargo client will have millions of dollars worth of cargo that needs to arrive somewhere safely.

For a broker - having a mindset that the customer owes you nothing is in my opinion a very healthy state of mind - Zen Reference.

This mindset keeps you on your toes and thus the customers wishes always at the top of any agenda. Keeping your customers happy, by concentrating on continuity of original good service, is a skill.

On the other side of the coin - an equally distateful state of mind is the shipping principal that likes to treat brokers and otjher service providers in a less than respectful way. Most principals i know are brokers too - they just dont realise it. There are very few pure shipowners and pure cargo owners. The industry is full of traders and operators who are brokers but ones looking to make a margin.

We all have something to sell!


Over the next few weeks I will be discussing the idea of the shipbroking ''fixing machine' - The 'star broker' - Think Steve Austin - The bionic shipbroker.

How to go from zero to hero - Should be fun.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Market news and general goings on.

Interesting to see that the world second largest mining company Rio Tinto has agreed to a 33 percent drop in iron ore prices with the Chinese. This is a good result for Rio in my opinion. Spot prices certainly dropped much more than 33 percent. having said the the BDI is having a nice run at the moment so if this continues it looks a fair result all around. The rising BDI must have forced the Chinese hand. Better get in now before its too late.

At the same time this deal was announced the CEO of BHP reiterated that he stilll thinks the markets are in for a wild ride..... I agree so hold on to your hats.

Re the new e-books. Thanks to the 12 of you who have taken the plunge and bought my new book(s). I wasnt sure if there was a market for this subject but from the response sofar there seems to be.

Quite a few of you are from an oil and tanker background which is very interesting.

A special thank you to Peter, SK and Jmny for your feedback on the contents of the book. Peter writes that the book has helped him gain a clearer picture of who his customers will be and how he will go about approaching them. He has also engaged the help of a mentor which is a fantastic start. Well done Peter. Sk was short but sweet stating that the best part of the book was the 'World Shipbroker Business Plan', and Jmny thought the entire book was well written and offered invaluable advice for the shipping entrepreneur.

Regarding the 'Million Dollar secrets' - yes they are still secrets. Again a number of you have expressed interest in finding out these secrets but I expect it will take some time before they are revealed to anyone who has a serious interest. Feel free to contact me should you wish to make a pitch.

Anyway - thats it from me. Busy few weeks for a number of reasons...

Keep in touch


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A step back in time

I just stumbled on this link while surfing the net for some information.

(see below)

It was written in 1965 by a young trainee shipbroker.

In many ways some things havent changed. Most shipbroking shops are quite small and although the baltic is no longer the centre for transactions, brokers can still be found either there, or in some nice Italian Eatery or Indian Curry House, talking shop (in London that is)

Its interesting to see the infered interactions between old hands and trainees. As alluded to in my book 'Inside Shipbroking' we still see on occassion this type of culture in some shipbroking shops. As evidenced also by the recent settlement between a well known London Brokerage firm and a former trainee. Thats why I named the chapter 'surviving the first 2 years'

I need to point out that there are many companies doing the right things - good on you if you are!


Starting a Shipbroking Business and The shipbrokerage Business Plan

Hi All

Both books are now available for general purchase. Follow the links to the Virtual Shipbrokers Books and Information Website.

(thanks to those who have already given me some great feedback)

For the time being both books are combined and will be sold as one book. Down the track I may split them up.

I think I have discussed the contents enough on the blog so those of you thinking of making the purchase please read all the available information and make an informed purchase decision.

A quick comment regarding the price. The price reflects a number of things.

1. There are two books

2. Starting a shipbroking business is different to wanting to be a shipbroker. The costs, risk and determination needed are much greater. Therefore the book is priced not for general consumption but for those truly interested in starting a business.

3. Anyone who purchases the book is able to contact me at any time for further clarifications.
You cannot do this with a hard copy. I am more than happy to answer questions regarding peoples own specific situations.

4. Because of the nature of an e-book I am able to continually update the books should new information come to hand. Any updates are available for free to previous buyers.


I am sure you will find the information useful.

Keep rockin

The Virtual Shipbroker

Monday, May 18, 2009

ready to go

False start now ready to go.

Any previous book purchases now have the option of purchasing the new book at close to half price. For the rest of you the book will be available 3 days from now.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shipbroker start-up Table of contents


If any of you are considering buying 'Starting a Shipbroking Business" check out the table of contents below andplease make an informed purchase decision. The book is primarily based on the Dry Cargo Industry because of its general nature and becuase of my background. Overall though, any shipbroking entrepreneur will find the info useful.

Also the book is actually two books in one

"Starting a Shipbroking Business" and "Shipbrokerage Business Plan". Down the track I might consider selling them seperately but atm they are as one!

Book 1 - Starting a shipbroking business

Preface 3
Introduction 5
Why a shipbroking company? 6
Who should open one? 9
Types of shipbroking companies 12
The structure of a shipbroking company 14
The typical services of a shipbroking firm 16
Shipbroking companies; volume and revenues 19

Planning your shipbroking business 21
Mini Strategic Plan 22
Business Plan 24

Know Your Customer 27
Finding customers and finding counterparties 28
19 great ways to grow your contact list 31
Approaching, Securing and Keeping Customers 35
Top 10 Reasons a client will want to support you 36

Shipbroker Critical Success Factors 39
Keeping Clients 42
Shipbroker Business Start-up: Common Mistakes 43
Important trends 44
How to look bigger than you are 47
The Final Word 51
The Virtual Shipbrokers Spectrum of Success 51


Book 2 - Ship Brokerage Business Plan 52

Executive Summary 55
Company Summary 57
Services 60
Market Analysis 60
Strategy and Implementation 62
Management Summary 64
Financial plan 65


The Virtual Shipbroker

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How to start a shipbroking company / Shipbroker Business Plan

Hi All

Ok - The book is 98 percent finished. A spell check and a table of contents and we are done.
Unfortunately I have been called away for 2 days business so it will probably be available on Monday. As stated before, those of you who have bought one of my previous books will be sent a seperate email notifying you of how you can purchase the book for a big discount (close to half price). The offer will be on the table for 3 days and then the book will be made available to the general readers.

I am very happy with the outcome so I hope you are too.

The book is mostly from a 'dry cargo' perspective but by its general nature will be of interest to any bulk shipping entrepreneur.

It is split into two major sections.

The first section deals with most conceivable question a new business owner will have. For example - the different sizes and types of shipbroking firms, firm structures, planning your new company, finding and keeping clients, what clients want from a shipbroker, critical success factors, what services you need to provide, common mistakes and upcoming trends - plus more.

The second section is an actual 'shipbroking business plan' based on a fictitious start-up company based in Switzerland called 'World Shipbrokers Co'. The purpose of the business plan is only to give readers an understanding of the processes involved. Figures are purely arbitrary and not to be considered Industry Standards. Having said that I think you will get great benefit from reading through it.

Sorry for the delay! Back Soon..


Monday, May 11, 2009

Baltic Dry Index - ups and downs

Although the news out of China seems to be good at the moment one thing to look out for is rising stockplie levels of iron ore at chinese ports. This is a common way companies try and manipulate the shipping markets by having huge stockpile and storage areas and thus being able to turn on and off the shipping tap when the time suits.

So I think we are still in for a wild ride. Look for s a short term market weakening and then a spurt around Sept / October.

New Building cancellations - Another important determinant of shipping freight rates is based on supply side fundamentals ie how many ships there are available in the open market. There have been reports over the last 6 months from various economists insisting that many contracts for new ships on order are in jeorpardy. Some say upto 40 percent of all new building contracts could be cancelled. Word on the ground is that the reality is much less, maybe 15 percent maximum. I think where possible shipyards are happy to go back to the negotiation table rather than lose an enitre order book.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bulk Shipping Rates on the move?

Interesting Bloomberg Article which corresponds with my thoughts that the shipping market will start turning around September / October. But I could be wrong - DYOR!


China’s Investment Growth May Quicken as Export Slump Eases

Share Email Print A A A
By Kevin Hamlin
May 11 (Bloomberg) -- China’s investment growth probably accelerated as a decline in exports moderated, strengthening a fledgling recovery in the world’s third-biggest economy.
Urban fixed-asset investment grew 29.1 percent in the four months through April from a year earlier, according to the median estimate of 16 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. That compares with a 28.6 percent gain in the first three months.
Exports may have dropped 15.3 percent last month, the smallest decline in four months. The government will release trade and investment figures tomorrow.

Optimism that China’s 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus plan is working has pushed up global copper prices and driven a 44 percent gain in the Shanghai Composite Index this year. The central bank cautioned in a quarterly monetary-policy report last week that the recovery is not yet “solid” after the economy performed better-than-expected in the first quarter.
“The economy has gained speed heading into the current quarter,” said Wang Qian, an economist with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Hong Kong. “We expect it to strengthen further as policy stimulus kicks in more powerfully and the external environment gradually improves.”
The trade surplus may have climbed to $20.3 billion, more than the previous month and a year earlier. Industrial production increased 8.6 percent from a year earlier, compared with an 8.3 percent gain in March, according to the economists. That figure will be released May 13.
Record Loans

The stimulus plan, a sixfold increase in new lending to a record in March, and a fledgling recovery in real estate are fuelling investment growth and an economic revival.
Chile’s Codelco, the world’s largest copper mining company, said May 7 that “dynamic” demand for the metal in China is helping to trim global stockpiles.

Chinese manufacturing expanded in April after record contractions last year, two surveys showed. General Motors Corp., the biggest overseas automaker in China, said its sales in the country rose 50 percent last month to a record. Overall vehicle sales rose 25 percent to a record 1.15 million units.

A stabilizing global economy may help Chinese exporters after thousands of factory closures and the loss of millions of migrant workers’ jobs. Eight out of nine leading indicators tracked across the globe by Credit Suisse Group AG, including manufacturing indexes and U.S. consumer confidence, have bottomed since the start of the year.

In China, signs of weakness include a 3.6 percent drop in power generation in April from a year earlier, reported by the official Xinhua News Agency on May 6.
‘No Man’s Land’
“We’re in a no man’s land now where the leading indicators look very good but the real economy hasn’t yet begun to rebound,” said Paul Cavey, an economist with Macquarie Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong.

China’s economic expansion weakened to 6.1 percent in the first quarter, the slowest pace since at least 1999, according to official data. The central bank reported a gain in quarter- on-quarter growth, without giving details.

While investment is surging, new lending may have cooled from a record 1.89 trillion yuan in March. April’s figure may be about 600 billion yuan, according to state media.
M2, the broadest measure of money supply, rose 25.3 percent last month, down from 25.5 percent in March, according to the median estimate of 20 economists.

The People’s Bank of China has pledged to ensure an “ample” supply of money to sustain growth, while cautioning that new lending is overly focused on government projects, small businesses lack credit, and bad loans may rebound.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kevin Hamlin in Beijing at khamlin@bloomberg.net Last Updated: May 10, 2009 12:00 EDT



Thursday, May 7, 2009

The million dollar idea(s)

While writing my new book I was faced with a dilema.

I have had up my sleeve, for a number of years, 2 huge shipbroking business ideas that have yet to put into motion.

So when writing a book 'starting a shipbroking business' I am faced with a problem. Do I devulge these two ideas or do I keep quiet and thus leave them for myself at a later stage to develop myself?

The problem with including the ideas in a book to be read by a few people is that they are immediately devalued. On the other side of the coin, not discussing these two huge marketing opportunities, is somehow disengenious.

So here's what I am going to do. These two huge 'entrepreneurial' secrets, that the market is either ignoring or doesnt want anyone to know about, will NOT be included in the book.

They will however be available to readers of the book.

So - Anyone who purchases the book will be given the chance to prove their 'entrepreneurial' spirit to me! If someone can prove they have the means and the drive to create something big I will devulge the 2 secrets only to them.

I will give them the secret for free - well almost!

There is a catch. If anyone out there can prove to me they are worthy of these secrets then I want in. If you run with the idea my company needs to be hired as an ongoing consultant and or board member.

Make no mistake - this is for serious shipping entrepreneurs. Believe me when I say they are two opportunities that are so obvious, huge and so willing to be exploited that you will be surpirsed when they are brought to your attention. But that is shipping - sometime the most obvious opportunities are the ones easily overlooked.

So if anyone does decide to run with any one of these two huge insider miliion dollar secrets then
you know the score.

And here is the good bit. If you go through the process and you are chosen, and then apon hearing the 2 secrets if you are seriously underwhelmend and have no interest at all, you can walk away...Thats ok too. I will give someone else the chance to go with the opportuntity.

So all in all its a bit of serious fun!

The book, by itself, will be invaluable for all people looking to open a shipbrokerage. That is a given.

These two ideas are only for those who are thinking on a grander scale (read larger sized shipping entrepreneurs).

The book should be avialable over the next few days


Shipping chat

Some of you might be wondering why I am writing a book on starting a shipbroking company when I already run one. Why would I want more competition?

Simple reasons really. I think there is lots of room for new shipbroking firms. I also think the industry can do with a shake up every now and then.

Also there could be something in it for me. My company is a niche company and I have secure long term business. Some of you starting your own shops may need mentoring, business partnering, a transactional broker etc. You will know who to call...

Maybe we can have one of those win-win relationships marketers like to talk about.


Re China

Heard some good news today that the Chinese governments rescue package is starting to have an effect on the ground in China. Many shipping people point toward September and October when we wll see a nice rebound in shipping freight rates. This looks to be on track. Heres hoping!


How to start a shipbroking company - New book

Dear All

The new book 'how to start a shipbroking business' should be ready over the next week or so.

The book is not a get rich quick scheme or a turn key marketing approach to shipbroking. It is however 50 odd pages of usefull information and insights for anyone thinking of starting a shipbrokerage business. Useful to both old timers and newbies.

Over the next few days I will publish a basic outline of the book.

Also for those who have bought one of my previous books there will be an opportunity to purchase 'how to start a shipbroking business' at half price prior to it being available for everyone else. Details of this to follow soon.

So if you havent as yet bought either 'inside shipbroking' or 'shipbroking fast track' then maybe over the next week is a good time to take the plunge. The half price offer will be approx equivalent to the price of inside shipbroking.

NB: Thanks to those of you who have sent me valuable questions and ideas for the book.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Business of Shipping

It continues to amaze me the diverse nature of the people who are reading my blog and I am grateful for all the contributions that all of you have made. The shipping business really is a huge business and one that is full of opportunties for people willing to succeed.

With this in mind I wanted to put the current bear market into a little perspective. Yes the market was down 93 percent from its all time highs (now 80 percent), but we need to remember that the market as it currently stands, is still higher than the historical long term average prior to the boom starting 8 years ago.

Shipping Employment - There is no doubt that the employment market is very soft compared to the last 7 years. Only 12 months ago shipbroker firms or any chartering firms for that matter, were finding it very difficult to find people of any level of experience. Times have changed, but in my opinion this was inevitable.

So now more than ever, those of you looking for jobs need to stay positive and patient. This period of industry consolidation will take time to play out. There are still lots of execs on high wages with some time left on fixed term contracts. Yes some firms have put in place wage and employment freezes, but this climate will thaw eventually. I know for a fact that some firms who have recently shed some highly paid staff will start looking over the coming months for new, cheaper (but still highly paid) alternatives. From an industry perspective, it would be bad form to sack people one day and hire new ones the next! For those who have lost their jobs its time to reinvent oneself.

Something to think about - smaller privatley owned shipbrokers, shipowners, chartering companies, have less masters to answer to, and hence will be able to move quicker in a bearish environment. The larger firms, ones that are owned by larger private interest and those that are public, cannot be seen to be splashing out on new employees. Its all about creating a perception of frugality (is that a word?).

You should be thinking about these issues when considering your strategy.