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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

check in

Hi all

Just thought I would stop and check in. Travelling / working / sightseeing with my family this week and next.

Met one or two interesting people which i can tell you about in the weeks to come.

Shipping markets remain uncommited. China has started holidays which means a drop in vlume. Congestion in Australian coal ports becomes a huge problem and strangles supply. In other words business as usual! As i tell clients - always expect problems....if s voyage runs smoothly then thank the man upstairs.

Will check in again soon.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Shipbroker Traineee News

Headlines in Tradewinds Newspaper this week that Clarksons, the worlds largest shipbroker, has doubled the intake of international based trainees this financial year. The intake, compared to previous years has been maintained at head office in London but the international offices have seen a large expansion.

Well done Clarksons!

( I also note that in the same publication a disgruntled Clarksons employee, decided to leave a rather smelly parting gift on the 6th floor of their headoffice in London. I wonder if he had an Indian curry for lunch. Needless to say he no longer works at Clarksons. Yes people destitute behavious shows no financial or cultural boundaries - shipping can be a prime example).

The Virtual Shipbroker pointed out a few months ago that at the peak of the GFC, it would be an opportune time for a number of the bigger shops to let go of expensive fat cats and consider taking on trainees at a lower cost base. This certainly seems to have played out.

I also note that the job market in general is very good. Lots of news this week regarding the surge in 'Wall st' employment jobs and shipping is riding that same wave.

There has never been a better time to try and get your foot in the door.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In deep s...t

Historical information you need to know about shipping Manure:

In the 16th and 17th centuries, everything had to be transported by ship. It was also before commercial fertilizer's invention, so large shipments of manure were common. It was shipped dry, because in dry form it weighed a lot less than when wet, but once water (at sea) hit it, it not only became heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, of which a by-product is methane gas. As the stuff was stored below decks in bundles you can see what could (and did) happen. Methane began to build up below decks, and the first time someone came below at night, with a lantern, BOOOOM!

Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined just what was happening. After that, the bundles of manure were always stamped with the term," Ship High In Transit" which meant for the sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold would not touch this volatile cargo and start the production of methane.

Thus evolved the term "S.H.I.T," which has come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day.

You probably did not know the true history of this word.

Neither did I.

I always thought it was a golf term.


The need for speed

I need to put something out there into 'cyberspace' for shipowners, freight traders, charterers and voyage cargo shipbrokers.

If you are presented with a piece of voyage business that needs to be evaluated / considered, quoted on etc, if you have not offered or replied to the customer within 2 hours you HAVE NOT done your job properly.

Consider this..

If you are a commodity based client - say a steel mill, and you need a freight rate asap and you contact a shipowner or freight trader etc - who will you give support to? A service provider that takes 3 days to reply or someone that can give you backing within 30 minutes?

Too many shipping people get caught up in the process rather than understanding the flow.

Shipping, commodity trading, freight trading is a TRADING environment, and if you snooze you lose. Some of your clients can win business on the basis that they can provide their customers with a quick freight solution. This is a fact!

I can hear a few of you already screaming that moving so quickly can be problematic and leave you open for mistakes. You will also point out that one needs to check port costs, restrictions etc etc...

Well I beg to differ. There is so much information ou there that being able to make quick decisions regarding freight prices should be easy.

If you cannot run a quick number ask yourself

1) Are you really prepared?
2) Can you actually run a quick and effective voyage calculation?
3) Have you kept previous calculations?
4) Do you have all the information at close quarters
4) Do you know how to submit a number and cover your butt with a suitable 'sub' clause
5) Do you know how to condition the client to give you feedback during the process that if the cargo does look like happening that you have time to sure up your numbers.
6) Do you fully appreciate that your clients business could very well hinge on the fact that they need "quick' service from clients..
7) Do you know how to factor in contingencies into you calc in order to protect you bottom line?
8) Do you have access to a colleague/mentor in order to check your numbers?
9) Do you have a good generic, market understanding of port costs / restrictions on various commodity trades and geographical regions?

If you answer yes to ALL the above then you my friend are a winner in whatever role you have in this crazy business we call international bulk shipping..

Have a nice day


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Voyage Calculation Website

Due to shortage of room on this blog I have started a separate website for voyage estimation / calculation information. I have some great ideas on how to make the website a really valuable tool for anyone interested in learning more about this skill.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Time Charter VS Voyage Charter

In the lead up to the availability of the VS voyage estimation pack, I want to discuss a few of the major concepts.

The main purpose of running a voyage estimation is for the user to try and work out the 'per metric tonne rate' for a particular piece of voyage cargo.

In general, when brokers, shipowners and charterers talk about the market, and when one reads market reports, what we are mostly discussing are 'Time charter rate' not Voyage rates. So you will hear and read commentary saying that such and such vessel was fixed at USD 20,000 per day for a time charter trip from Singapore to Europe. Thats all well and good if you want to know the time charter rates, but the figure of USD 20,000 per day means nothing for a cargo owner who wants to move his cargo on a voyage basis ie a per metric tonne rate.

What does USD 20,000 per day convert to on a per metric ton basis they scream...

So this is the main purpose of the voyage estimation - to convert this Time Charter Daily Hire Rate into a meaningful Per Metric Ton "voyage rate". Alternatively if the charterer has given his/her 'voyage ideas' the shipowner and broker can plug in the voyage rate in order to work out the breakeven time charter rate!

Wrap your minds around that - lucky its early in the week hey..

Any questions then give me a hoy!

PS - Not all market discussions are based on time charter. Some well know KEY markets are discussed using voyage rates. But these trades tend to be very generic and thus allow for easy voyage rate comparisons. Examples of well know voyage based markets include USG / Japan grains and South Africa / Europe Coal routes.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Voyage estimating - dry bulk

Dear All

Due to popular demand I am currently putting together a work book of various voyage estimating examples (dry bulk) plus explaining the techniques and the art in calculating them effectively.

Running a ballpark voyage estimation is an incredibly important skill for any good broker. It is also a brilliant way to learn how your customer thinks. Voyage estimating is the cornerstone of how shipowners come up with their freight rates for any particular piece of voyage business.

Over 20 years in the business I have run thousands of voyage estimations. I have run them in my capacity as a shipowner, freight trader, shipbroker and charterer. For each, the aim is slightly different. No one knows this better than the Virtual Shipbroker.

All the tricks and assumptions will be revealed. Should be available over the next month or so.

A must for all brokers, freight traders, charterers and shipowners.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mixed signals

Is it just me or do others feel like they have played 5 sets of tennis after reading the financial news. In yesterdays local financial rag, page 3 covered 4 stories, each one presenting a new set of economic figures that could make any self respecting investor go completely mad!

In the red corner we hear that spending is up, stock markets are bouncing back, reserve bank governors are making appearances without bullet proof vests, and apparently the economic supecycle timeclock is just a tick past 8 pm. Good times baby!

In the blue corner we have gold reaching new highs, Chinese politicians and business leaders declaring they fear for the future, a baltic dry index in desperate need of an intravenus dose of Ben Johnson moose juice and a vessel forward order book that is making champaign bottle manufacturers beam with lofty expectation.

Maybe its always been this way and its only now that I know enough to know that I know nothing.

Time for bed


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The missing shipbroker - 1880

Not much has changed really.


Shipbroker out late without his wife, drinks too much top shel vino with stevedore friend, decides to take public transport home (doesnt drink and drive good man), encounters some difficulty, never to be seen again.

Interesting that he often disappeared at short notice only to send his wife a telex the next day explaining he was called away on business. I tried that once and was told never to come back - so that much has changed in 130 years!

I wonder if his ultimate undoing was because like many brokers he had a penchant (spelling!) for flash suits and expensive jewelry. I am sure there is a lesson there somewhere!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

The science and the art of effective voyage calculations.

Dear all.

I am working towards a new voyage calculation/estimation resource. Keep an eye out for it in the near future!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Trade wars heat up!

On the back of china announcing last week a 25 percent drop in exports.....

By Mark Drajem
Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama imposed tariffs starting at 35 percent on $1.8 billion of tire imports from China, backing a United Steelworkers union complaint against the second-largest U.S. trading partner.
The additional duties would last for three years, dropping in the second year to 30 percent and the third year to 25 percent, according to an administration statement today.
“This administration is doing what is necessary to enforce trade agreements on behalf of American workers and manufacturers,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement. “Enforcing trade laws is key to maintaining an open and free trading system.”
The case is the largest so-called safeguard petition filed to protect U.S. producers from surging imports from China, and was a test of Obama’s approach to trade disputes. The steelworkers union, a key political ally of Obama, represents 15,000 employees at 13 tire plants in the U.S.
The independent U.S. International Trade Commission recommended that Obama impose duties for three years, starting at 55 percent. Tariffs that steep would effectively block imports of tires from China, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., the second-largest U.S. tiremaker, said in a filing to the U.S. trade office.
All of the U.S. tire makers have operations in China, according to the ITC, and none of them publicly supported the steelworkers complaint. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the largest U.S. tiremaker, stayed neutral.
‘Effective Relief’
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged Obama in a letter this month to provide “effective relief” for the tire companies, saying action is necessary if Congress is to approve new trade deals in the future.
“This is going to be a test, not just for the president but for this administration,” United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said in an interview before the announcement. “If they can’t enforce this, how can Congress ever trust them with any other trade deal?”
Chinese officials and a lobbying group for multinational companies such as Caterpillar Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have urged Obama to refrain from curbing imports, saying it could lead to a “downward protectionist spiral.”
Former President George W. Bush turned down each of the four requests for such trade safeguards in other industries, saying they would do more harm than good to the U.S. economy. Obama pledged during the election campaign to take a harder line against Chinese trade barriers, and said he would assess these safeguard cases on their merits.
Since taking office Obama has vowed to avoid any new protectionist measures.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net Last Updated: September 11, 2009 21:36 EDT

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What the?

My website hit counter has just gone haywire and dropped back by 7,000 hits. The counter on the books for sale website has gone from 3,000 hits to 12,000.......

mmm - technology hey!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Support for the blog!

If you are a long time reader why not become a follower? Go on I dare you!

By the way...when I get a chance (shortly) I will be posting an example of how to do a basic voyage calculation (estimation) - the old fashioned long hand way...


Monday, September 7, 2009

Interesting times in world shipping

Theres lots of things happening out there in the big wide world of finance, commodities and shipping markets.

Interesting state of play. It seems that the worlds economies have staved of the next great depression. The stimulus packagaes have worked and the bottom line is that the worlds credit markets are crawling out of hiding ready to play ball once again.

If we cast our minds back to the early 1930's (I know some of you were there!) the most notable reason given for the great depression was that panic led to protectionism - protectionism based fear meant the financial markets tightened and credit dried up - this led to a masisve snoball effect and the world shut up shop!

So the key to the current climate has been that the stimulus has been linked to freeing the credit markets - and thus the good position we seem to be in now!

BUT BUT BUT - have we won on a technicality? Are the fundemantal problems still there?

1. Too much debt
2. Bad financial corporate governance
3. Asset bubbles

Who knows? The financial markets are much different entities then they once were so historical economic ratios (of value and risk) have been turned on there heads.

Its a bit like the the 100 meter world record currently held by Usain Bolt. In 1916 the worlds fastest time was 10.6 seconds. 1960 became 10 seconds and now Usain canters in at 9.58 seconds. Whilst nothing appears to have changed over that time ie 1 man - 100 meters - run like the wind, things have changed. Training techniques, the size of athletes, the growth in world populations, the emergence of African nations as superior fast twitch athletes etc etc...

Same with market economies. Nothing stays the same and what we though unachievable 60 years ago may be achievable now and that includes the new world economy based alot on credit, derivatives, and the ease by which nations can trade.

The backdrop of this is what seems to be our declining physical environment. We all need to be diligent and the shipping community has been a little slow in reacting to climate change and co2 emmissions.

Shipping sofar is not part of the kyoto protocol but movement is afoot to rectify this.

Check out this interesting article from last years "daily telegraph" for a greater explanation of the issues that the shipping fraternity face.



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shipbroker employment - this week!

I wonder if anyone else has noticed the jump in commercial shipbroking and chartering jobs recently? If you surf the job section of my website this is fairly self evident.

The word on the ground certainly backs this up.

A few months ago there was lots of fear within the shipping community. Firms culled employees and implemented hiring and wage freezes.

But the good news is that the economic landscape seems to have changed (for the good). The worlds governments went 'stimulus crazy' and now all major markets have staged some sort of recovery.

Firms are hiring, no one is firing and people are jumping ship for better paid positions.

Smooth seas ahead they yell! But for how long no one really knows?

Good luck to the job hunters!