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, August 4, 2009

Shipbroking obsolete?

Hi everyone.

I have had a busy few weeks. Only now do I have a few moments to sit at my computer and answer a emails. With this in mind I have only just now replied to a private email from a reader of the blog (tks Ryan). The question is a good one and I thought the answer will benefit the readers

Q. My first question relates to the longterm viability of the profession: Will the web, which can provide a central place for shippers and shipowners to identify each other, render the role shipbrokers obsolete?

Short answer - No

reasons asf

1. Shipbroking is a skill set. Apart from pure brokers we have shipowners and charterers who also utilise these skills therefore the profession will live on...

2. Over the last fifteen years hundreds have tried to set up web based platforms only to fail. Some of the higher profile ones have spent hundreds of millions only to disappear.

3. Shipbroking is more than matching cargoes with ships and buyers with sellers. People trade freight and make millions (billions) in the process. Let me explain - Bulk ocean freight is not so much a cost but a tradeable commodity. Complicating things for those wanting to make the process simpler is the fact that freight as a commodity is far from homogenous and is traded accross a fragmented world market (legally, commercially and ethically). It can take weeks to transact and there are lots of terms, conditions and clauses that need to be agreed.

Currencies, equities, prok bellies - trade the price and the quanity and then press the red button - easy peasy.

4. Charterers in particlular ' need' brokers expertise. Many charterers do not have the necessary knowledge. Some deals are worth million in freight costs - the price of an expert broker is small in the scheme of things.

5. The status quo. Too many people have too much to lose by upsetting the apple cart. Only 50 percent of deals reach the wider market. As a broker and a principal the last thing I want to do is to publish and circulate my 'positions'.

Lastly - Can you imagine a realestate market without brokers - i cant!

Great question - if anyone would like further clarification drop me a line!



  1. VS - great thoughts .. interesting discussion

  2. Great post, I have a question.

    I was reading that the shipbroker-trader-owner from venezuela Wilmer Ruperti was saying that he made his first millions renting for himself old vessels at $5000 a day and then re-renting those vessels to Glencore and others big oil traders at $35,000 a day back in the early 90's, for a $30,000 profit a day!.

    My question is, when you said "Bulk ocean freight is not so much a cost but a tradeable commodity" You are referring to this kind of deals?.

    Thanks in advance pal!, superb blog!

  3. Dear El merchante

    Yes that example is exactly what I mean - that is a perfect freight trading (freight being a commodity) example - although I suggest those numbers you have quoted are little off the mark. The early 90's was a slow time for shipping and rates never reached anywhere near the 30k per day mark.

    Thank you for your nice words - i am glad you
    like the blog!


  4. You're 100% Right, I misread the article, He was talking during the late 90's and during the PDVSA strike earlier this decade.

    Here's the article (Is in spanish):


  5. hola - offcourse im right i am the Virtual Shipbroker! haha...truth is im wrong all the time - just ask my wife!

  6. To be honest man, the world needs more people like you pal.

    Im learning a lot with this blog, IM a spread trader in the Energy spectrum, but I want to trade some day from the physical side of the biz. Im in miami right now and to be honest, there's no so much physical commodities business like in NY, Houston, London etc. So I guess I should start to think about moving to one of those internationals cities.

    you'r honestly is invaluable these days.

  7. I would like to reccomend a book as additional readings to The virtual shipbrokers fantastic materal. The book is quite expensive, but really informative: "Shipbroking and Chartering Practice, now 7th edition. By: Gorton, Hillenius,Ihe and Sandevarn.

    Have a nice day!
    Tommy Nilsen

  8. Hi VS,

    Just discovered your blog and I am in the process of exploring it thoroughly.
    Re- above highly interesting topic, can you please name some of the web based platforms that failed in the last 15 years? Did these platforms tried to replace the role of shipbrokers or they were tools at their sevice?
    Are there any platforms in now days at the disposal of shipbrokers (either on a subscription basis or not) to help them cover the entire market more effectively and efficiently.

    Many thanks in advance for your response.


  9. Hi Kostas - there have been many....

    But no - there is no platform that enables the players in the industry to cover the entire market. Nor imo will there ever be unless there are universal trading laws put into place.