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, January 27, 2010

The Shipbroker employment scene

The employment market is very firm. Check out the number of job adds in Tradewinds and the various other recruitment websites.

Ps - dont forget to mention that you can now run voyage calculations. Should get you to the top of the pile!
Go for gold!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Looking for a trainee shipbroker or chartering person?

If you are a

1. Shipbroker
2. Shipowner
3. Cargo charterer
4. Freight Trader
5. Financial Institution

And you are looking for young, eager, smart and educated shipbroking / chartering trainees then do yourself a favour and drop me an email at virtualshipbroker@yahoo.com

I have sold books into over 30 countries and have a list of young professionals ready to take the jump into the profession.

Any requests will be handled with complete confidence and free of cost. Send me the details and I will pass it on to someone I KNOW will not disappoint.

(Jobs will not be posted on the blog but sent to individuals)


Yours VS

The importance of being a shipbroker (and shipowner) and its tax implications

Touches on the issue of certain countries lowering taxes to attract shipping companies. Smart move but a move that can decimate local commercial shipping scenes from London to Houston right through to Melbourne (down under).

Countries have been incredibly slow to respnd to these intiatives from relatively new shipping powerhouses like Singapore, Switzerland and Dubai.



London Shipbrokers Lose to Mobile-Home Owners in Political Feud

January 26, 2010, 04:56 AM EST Story Tools
By Simon Clark and Alaric Nightingale

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- When Michael Drayton was chairman of London’s Baltic Exchange, politicians were more interested in his caravanning hobby towing a mobile vacation home than his job setting prices for $200 billion of world shipping.

“Everywhere I go wearing a Caravan Club hat, in they come,” Drayton, 59, said of Members of Parliament in Westminster. The veteran shipbroker is a vice president of the Caravan Club. He chaired the Baltic Exchange for two years until July. “Shipping, as far as Westminster is concerned, is neither a major money earner nor is it a vote winner.”
The 266-year-old Baltic Exchange epitomizes the City of London’s struggle to demonstrate its value to the nation after bankers saddled U.K. taxpayers with more than 800 billion pounds ($1.3 trillion) of liabilities from the financial crisis.
Defending City institutions has never been tougher as politicians of all stripes -- including traditional allies among the Conservatives -- question the purpose of the financial industry. Adair Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, described parts of it as “socially useless.”

The financial crisis caused “a tear in the fabric of society,” pitting “ordinary citizens” against City bankers, Nick Anstee, who as lord mayor of the Corporation of London is a figurehead for the City, said at a dinner in November attended by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

City Slammed
At stake for the City is the political support required to challenge overseas rivals and craft policies such as favorable tax laws to keep bankers and shipowners in London. Brown must hold elections by June.

“MPs feel inclined to slam the City for the current financial ills of the world, even though its risk-taking worked for over a decade,” said Liberal Democrat Lembit Opik, one of three lawmakers who liaise with the Caravan Club, which represents 1 million mobile-home enthusiasts. “Every MP knows people with caravans. Very few MPs know people with ships.”
London’s 15,600 shipping brokers, bankers, insurers and lawyers contributed 2.1 billion pounds to U.K. overseas earnings in 2008, according to International Financial Services London.
They help create a “critical mass” of companies and institutions that make London a global financial center, said Jeremy Penn, chief executive officer of the Baltic Exchange.
“We are absolutely trying to serve the worldwide shipping market,” Penn said, seated in his office next to the “Gherkin” tower, built on the site of the old Baltic Exchange after it was bombed by the Irish Republican Army in 1992.

Under Threat

City organizations like the 133-year-old London Metal Exchange, the worldwide price-setter for commodities like copper, the 322-year-old Lloyd’s of London insurance market and the Baltic Exchange face competition.
Norway and Singapore have been growing as shipping centers, the latter because of government help, said Andreas Sohmen-Pao, the Singapore-based CEO of BW Group, owner of the world’s biggest fleet of liquefied gas tankers.

“These changes happen over a fairly long period of time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue,” said Sohmen-Pao. “As a distant observer it seems to be true that the U.K. government is not particularly concerned about the maritime sector.”

A spokesperson for the U.K. Treasury said in an e-mailed statement the government “values the contribution of the shipping industry to the U.K. economy.”

Penn and Drayton’s main concern is that perceived political indifference about the City has led to rising taxes that will drive London-based shipowners and brokers to relocate to places such as Monaco and Athens.


In 2007, Brown’s Labour Party announced a new tax on so called non-domiciled foreigners resident in the U.K. after the Conservative Party said it would levy the “non-doms.”
“There’s been significant migration of ship ownership away from London following that,” said Penn. “Once that decision- maker moves, then the broker that wants to do business with him moves, and the lawyer moves, the banker moves.”
Clarkson Plc, the world’s biggest shipbroker, said in its 2008 annual report that it had opened an office in Geneva and “changed our focus from being a London-based broking business.”

Even the Baltic Exchange, which has an office in Singapore, could move, Penn said. “We would respond to where the bulk of the activity takes place,” Penn said.

The government has announced a top level of income tax of 50 percent and introduced a one-time tax on bankers’ bonuses.


“Shipping, by definition, is very transportable,” Drayton said. “We never asked anything from Westminster other than please just keep a level playing field and don’t mess around with the tax.”
Financial services accounted for 10.1 percent of the U.K.’s gross domestic product and 27.5 percent of corporate taxes in 2007, according to the government and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. More than 1 million Britons were employed in the industry that year, according to the U.K. Office for National Statistics.
“How on earth you would replace the wealth which is generated in the City of London, if you were to undermine it, I’ve no idea,” Penn said.

When Derek Prentis started in the shipping industry after World War II, his firm was exporting British coal and Greek entrepreneurs were snapping up wartime Liberty ships to build shipping empires via the U.K. capital.


London still calls the shots in shipping, even as new economic powers like China emerge, he said.
“Being a member of the Baltic is respected throughout the world,” Prentis, 84, said

For Baltic Exchange senior freight market reporter Willy Lyth, his job puts him at the center of the “universe.”
Every weekday, first at about 1 p.m., and then again about three hours later, Lyth and three co-workers huddle together to set global shipping costs, based on prices submitted from 52 brokerages from New York to Shanghai.

The Baltic Exchange, which publishes prices and indexes such as the Baltic Dry Index, had sales of 5 million pounds in the year to March 2009. Its prices are used as a benchmark for negotiating freight rates. It also produces a forward curve indicating trading values that hedge funds use and traders to evaluate contracts with a nominal value of $35 billion in 2009.

A few hundred yards up St. Mary Axe street from the Baltic Exchange stands Lloyd’s of London, where brokers do business face to face around the Lutine Bell, which once rang out when shipwreck news reached London.
Insuring Cargo

Inside, it takes Hiscox Ltd. ship underwriter Brendan Flood about 20 minutes of negotiations with a broker perched on a stool beside him to insure a Bangladeshi cargo ship based 6,740 miles away in Singapore.
London’s shipping market has been affected by the collapse of financial companies including Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc

Edinburgh-based RBS, which is now majority-owned by the government, is refusing to lend to Drayton to start a new company on the grounds that he’s a new customer, he said. RBS spokesman Piers Townsend declined to comment.

“Now that is bloody ridiculous,” Drayton said. “I’ve built up two companies on the back of Royal Bank of Scotland money. Royal Bank of Scotland made money. I’ve made money. Everyone’s made money.”
Drayton said politicians should be proud of the shipping services in London. He also knows that convincing Britons outside the City of the virtues of capitalism can be difficult

In 2008, he bought an unprofitable maker of classic mobile homes in Lincolnshire, eastern England. The workers were afraid of the new owners, he said.
“They were shaking in their boots at representatives of the City taking over,” said Drayton, whose Blackberry has a picture of his green Bentley Continental and mobile home. “They stood there and thought this was a death sentence coming.”
Cash From Caravans
Instead, the seven employees still have their jobs. They now renovate old trailers instead of building new ones.
The manufacture of caravans and spending by people vacationing in them make up a U.K. industry that generates 3 billion pounds a year in revenue and employs 90,000 people, according to Caravan Club spokesman Nick Lomas.
As mobile homes lead ships in Westminster’s priorities, London’s place at the center of the shipping map is in the balance.

“I can understand that the Baltic Exchange is very important,” said Lomas. “But it’s not immediately apparent to people, whereas caravans and motor homes are visible.”
--Editors: Rodney Jefferson, James Hertling
To contact the reporters on this story: Simon Clark in London at +44-20-7673-2059 or sclark4@bloomberg.net Alaric Nightingale in London at +44-20-7073-3488 or anightingal1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Edward Evans at +44-20-7073-3190 or eevans3@bloomberg.net Stuart Wallace at +44-20-7673-2388 or swallace6@bloomberg.net

-0- Jan/26/2010 00:01 GMT



Monday, January 25, 2010

Voyage calculation software and tutorial additional information

Quite a few people have asked about the chances of purchasing either the software or the tutorial as seperate items.

At this stage I will only sell them together. In truth the higher value item in my opinion is the tutorial. The software is just an added extra.

The tutorial IMO is an unbeliveable way to learn the essential skills of chartering. There is no other product quite like it. So for the tutorial alone is well worth the price.

You will learn more from the tutorial and the software than any formal shipping course (study unit) at around 1/4 of the price. Think about how much you would need to pay to study just one unit from any reputable shipping course and you will see the value. Plus if you have read any of my previous books and blog you will note that I can make difficult topics easier to understand. This is not always the case. Throw in the software that will be yours forever, the ability to email me at anytime and get a guaranteed reply, - its incredible value.

Here are some of the comments sofar from a purchaser and a tester..(The testers gave me valuable feedback that I was able to incorporate into the tutorial - thank you testers - you know who you are...)


"This was fantastic journey and I am more then happy if I was able to help with my questions".

"VS, with your software, your great support over past 3-4 days I can run Voyage estimations, Isn't is phenomenal for a student with no previous experience?"

"the software is excellent. I have checked against other software we have inhouse and the results are the same"

"Thank you so so much for creating the software, for outstanding Tutorial with all its examples and important topics to learn about".

"Wow....my head is spinning". Can I use the software on more than one computer? (The answer is yes btw but with only one login)

"It's was so interesting to read the real life situation from example 2 with its Bad End. I cannot stop taking notes".

"Great example I enjoyed the part how in different situations different people use software and how Ms is getting from zero to hero. I see you are involving here Fixing machine".


Peter - Yours noted re the decimal points - I have sent you a private email explaining.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Pirates (from a shipowners perspective)

We have a new poster Jebus who is a shipowner and is giving excellent feedback on lots of topics.

I thought I would bump his answer with regards to a previous 'pirate thread'.


As a shipowner, whenever I'm asked to quote a for a trade which involves passing through the Gulf of Aden, or Somalian Coasts, I always demand that firstly, the War Risk Premium to be covered by Charterers and secondly, the Ransom and Kidnapping Cover to be at least splitted 50/50 between owners and/or Charterers (if not entirely).

Both these premiums depend of type of vessel, size, freeboard, Hull and Machinary insurance value etc).
Due to the high constant risk in the area, all vessel's which are passing the GOA, have the option to register themselves with Nato and other military organisations which are operating from Dubai and/or London and covering the vessel's movements in the area. In this way, you can always use the safe convoys for transiting specific corridors.

Nice one Jebus!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

International bulk shipping is about averages not absolutes!

Having been around for 20 years doing this chartering caper I find myself explaining to many clients that a successful shipping voyage is part good planning and part good luck.

Here is something thatmight surpirse the unitiated. I reckon that for every 10 voyages, 7 will have something go wrong (from a chartering perspective). They may not be huge problems but they will be problems none the less.

Despite best efforts many ships run late and miss cancelling. Ships break down at sea, break down at port, get delayed in a Q's, get caught in bad weather etc etc.

Then there is all the things that can happen on the shore like strikes, berth delays, cargo contamination, hold contamination, delays in surveys etc etc....
One can go mad trying to control and estimate all the possible contingencies.

The cost of these problems WILL effect the bottom line for the voyage.

So here is my advice to all of you. Shipping is about averages and never expect perfection. More than that YOU NEED to manage 'expectations' all along the food chain especially if you are from a Cargo based company. Senior executives who have no idea about shipping will blame YOU if something goes wrong. So you need to condition them that THINGS do go wrong whether they like it or not. Equally as important you need to point out to them when things go right (andyou have saved them thousands of dollars).

If you have a bad voyage this month on average your next one will be fine. Thats the point...if over a year things have gone relatively well then you deserve a drink!

Another important point i would like to make is, that from a commercial perspective, a shipowner, operator, charterer makes their money when the deal is fixed. As opposed to when the voyage is underway.

If as a chartering manager for a cargo company I manage to fix a cargo USD 3.00 under the market then why would I sweat on losing 5 hours of laytime?

If as a shipowner I manage to fix a lucrative 5 year contract why would i freak out about a request from a charterer to change one stem from January to February.

Do yourself, your hair color, and your psychiatrist a favour and don't sweat on the small stuff.

Try anyway!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


If you bought a house 10 years ago for USD 100k and only just sold it for USD 150k you could say that you have made a 50k profit (not taking into account inflation, opportunity cost etc).

However if the house next door, exactly the same, sold 2 days earlier for USD 200k would you still think you have made a profit?

I am using the word profit liberally in the explanation. And this is the same with voyage calculations. In a voyage calculation the shipowners is not attempting to find the 'profit' figure against all his costs. He is looking to find the profit figure against the 'Market'.

The market represented by the the 'Timecharter IN' figure he or she uses in the calculation.

So in the case of the house - against the market the guy looks to have made a usd 50k loss.

(NB in a voyage calculation we have a final profit or loss figure. This can also be represented with a surplus or deficit figure. Same thing!)


Monday, January 18, 2010

A Voyage Estimation Question - who knows the answer?

If you bought a house 10 years ago for USD 100,000 dollars and sold it this year for USD 150,000 have you made a profit?

And yes thisis a voyage estimation question...once i get some answers I will explain.


Voyage estimation pack almost there!!!!!!!!

You would not believe what I am waiting on. My adobe acrobat is playing up so I can add the security features I need. This should be fixed over the next day or so.

To wet the appetitie...Here are the dry cargo voyage estimation examples that are in the tutorial

1. Handymax coal Indonesia to china
2. Handymax coal Australia to India
3. Handymax cement South East Asia to Europe
4. Handymax parcels from Black Sea to Far East
5. Panamax coal Australia to India
6. Panamax Iron Ore India to China
7. Panamax Coal USEC to Europe
8. Supramax grain USG to Japan
9. Handysize grain River Plate to Europe

Thanks patience


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti - donate if you can!

Red Cross donation details


Another legal question

Anyone care to have a go at an answer! Would like the benefit of hearing Gary's always wise perspective...


good aft VS! thanks yr reply reg period of brokerage payment. Have however next question, born from alive practise.. Vessel performed bulk grain shipment from black sea to ec india(kolkata). upon fixture has been agreed(and stipulated in CP in written) that chtr's broker will collect his brokerage from ows. when vsl sailed, broker faced his invoice to ows. during passage, chtrs changed dport from kolkata to chittagong and agreed with ows(against addtl amount) to change dport..transit time was arnd 25-27 days, and broker few times approached ows to remit his comm, but ows replied tht they will pay afer ''shipment will be completed''. disch took longer time than was agreed as per CP, and vsl fallen into demurrage(arnd usd 60,000), which is still under dispute/discussion.Already 5 month gone after fixture and 2 months gone after completion of discharging. When broker approached ows again(after completion of disch, with no shortage), ows advised tht they will not pay brokerage again, whilst ''all financial outstanding debts will be settled, including demurrage". Question: are they right to avoid brokerage payment in this case?? Why broker should be ''hostage'' in this situation??

January 13, 2010 6:57 AM


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When is the shipbroker commission payable?

Good Question from one of the readers.

Answer. Once the freight has been paid and you the shipbroker have invoiced the shipowner. Give the shipowner 30 days to settle your commissions.


If you are worried about getting the brokerage frm a particular shipowner many shipbrokers ask their 'friendly' charterers, to deduct this amount from the frieght payment and then collect the money from the charterer.


So lets say that total freight is USD 1,000,000
Brokerage USD 12,500.
Owners total revenue is USD 987,500 (thanks gary)


Instead - Ask the charterer to only send the onwer USD 987,500 and to send you the shipbroker the USD 12,500 owing (from the owner). This happens all the time. Sometimes the owner gets cranky because they want to control the flow of money. In reality the charterer should have no problem with this.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 2010 to you all..

I thought I would start of 2010 with a philisophical question. It is not shipping related perse' however I am sure some of you can relate.


If a man speaks in the forest, and there are no women around to hear, is he still wrong?

According to my wife the answer is yes..