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

Monday, May 31, 2010

VS Dry Cargo Shipbroking and Chartering Certificate about to take off!

I am pleased to announce that students will be starting the course sometime over the next 24 hours (depending on time zones - lol).

We had great interest with 10 people applying (Not quite world domination but I think thats great anyway).

Optimal numbers for me is 6 (i have a day job remember) - so for those of you who have missed this intake keep a eye open for the next one later in the year.

Promises to be a great ride for those invloved. Good cross section of students with different levels of experience spanning different corners of the globe. Always a huge learning experience for me aswell.

Lets do it....


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A reply to the Plaintive Shipowner!

I hear ya brudda!

It isnt easy being a shipowner that is for sure. I agree mostly with what you say but consider this...

The shipowners core business revolves around the efficient use of its assets in a fairly dynamic environment. Shipping though is not just about what happens at sea it is also about what happens in port. This is your gig - your core business, you area of supposed expertise and hence your risk to mitigate (or price).

Consider the humble miner of say bauxite. What does a room full of geologists know or understand about laytime issues including the idea of WWD? They just dig and sell and hope for the best. Internally when it comes to logistics they want to get rid of as much risk as possible.

I think your biggest issue (if i may be so bold) is that unfortunately for you, because of shipping market conditions, you are unable to price the risk of 'weather' into your freight rate. Too many dodgy operators and owners who need to justify there existence are willing to turn a blind eye to some of the risks. Shut your eyes and hope for the best. And if the weather is a problem - then internally you can always tell the boss (or the shareholders) that this was an unforseen event and hence the reason your freight rate didnt cover this risk!

So maybe, just maybe this is an issue about competition and cheap pricing (in an industry you choose to be a part of) rather than charterers (a motly disjointed group of people if i ever saw one) collectively pulling one over the shipowners...

Feel free to debate my points PS (palintive shipowner)

VS (the devils advocate)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The plaintive shipowner

I am very pleased to announce that an eminent shipowning friend with 30 years experience will occasionally present his sometimes sorrowful views regarding the plight of shipowners around the world.

SHould make for some interesting reading and some good discussion.


Weather Working Day - if ever there was the argument that God (or any other higher being one may pay homage too) is on Charterers side this charter party term proves it beyond doubt. If you accept that the Charterer and the Shipowner are partners/have a mutual interest in the succesfull outcome of a voyage why is it that the Shipowner alone has to accept the full risk for weather delays? Why is such risk not shared 50/50 between both parties? Then not us forget we are not only talking rain - fog has been claimed as a weather delay, high winds has been claimed as a weather delay as the cargo is being blown into the water or over nearby populace, high humidity when loading urea in the the Arab Gulf (this is my favorite) has been claimed as a weather delay as the humidity makes the urea sticky and impossible to load (wonder if too sunny will be next) .

Then throw in snow, sleet and hail. Also it is not unusual to extend the term so that if your ship is waiting for a berth and the ship on the berth is delayed by bad weather that such weather delays apply to your laytime as well! So not only was the berth not available when you arrived you have the take the weather delays of the ship on the berth and your own weather delays once you are alongside waiting like a polite child.

Charterers may argue that such things should be allowed in the Owners voyage calculation based on Owners wealth of knowledge - the reality is if every little possible delay was allowed for in a voyage calculation no Charterer would ever get a decent voyage rate (except from the desperate of the numerically illiterate) or all shipowners would give up and refuse to fix their ships other than on timecharter basis (No wonder all those wealthy Greek Shipowners always look so relaxed in the Tradewinds photo layouts during Posidonia).

The Plaintive Shipowner



Is there a secret?

All the readers of this blog and books, plus the students and the consultancy clients know that I take my privacy (and yours) very seriously. Therefore I dont reveal too much about myself. That can be a great advantage in cyberspace and in industry because it allows one to speak ones mind without fear of professional recrimination.

The important point here is that a good blog needs to respect the reader because most readers can spot a fake when they see (read it). Hopefully you guys realise that this blog is my attempt to explain the mysterious world of shipping from my perspective. One gained over 20 years.

One of the close friends of the blog recently asked me "VS whats your secret to success?" Its a great question but ultimately a little flawed because the assumption is that I AM successful....when at the end of the day I am an anonymous blogger supposedly from a the landlocked himalayan nation of Bhutan!

The truth is that I have had some success. But success is always relative and subjective. I have earnt (as a salary) over 6 figures since my mid 20's, and at some point in my mid late 30's I had saved and invested well enough to reach a small milestone that many people would consider as being rich.

These days this initself is not unusual and many people in shipping are worth far more than me, and they have the trappings of wealth to show it.

There is an old adage that you dont become wealthy through a salary alone. And from my perspective this is very true. If you think that by earning big money that you are automatically going to end up wealthy then think again. I have known many high salaried people who are every asset poor. They live paycheque to paycheque and thus need to work longer and harder just to stay afloat. I also know many people on low incomes who retire rich through clever planning and understanding investment concepts like, leverage, compounding interest, cashflow vs capital gains and the simple idea of spending less then you earn.

The moral here is that although a career in shipbroking and chartering dangles the promise of a high salary and great benefits, this doesnt always translate into success - whatever that may mean....

I have partied on yachts in the mediterranean, played hundreds of rounds of golf, watched the Hong Kong Sevens and skied in Switzerland - all on company time


I like the idea of sustainable financial success that doesnt soley rely on the whims of the market. Good shipowners know that secret too.

Is it too early for a whisky?


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Certificate - offers have been sent

I have sent offers to a number of applicants. If you applied and have not yet received your offer please check your junk mail folder or drop me a quick email (for clarification).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sharemarket turmoil and the Shipping markets

I thought this would be an opportune time to discuss the current sharemarket turmoil and the possible affects on the shipping markets.

Although there is some lagged correlation the BDI quite often works in a different space to the worlds sharemarkets. Sharemarkets measure the value of companies at a given moment and this doesnt necessarily represent or reflect the amount of trade that is going on.

Even if prices for commodities dip and the value of shares dip - people still charter ships. Supply side issues play a major part in the equation.

As has been the case for the last 10 years the major demand side factors for the BDI remain the emrging economies appetite for coal and iron ore.

If we see the demand for these two take a hit then we will see a drop in the shipping markets. The world waits to see how the EAST absorbes the problems confronting the WEST (Euro and USA)...

The BDI remains at strong levels.


Applications have closed for the VS Dry Cargo Chartering and Shipbroking Certificate

Wow - what an amazing response!

Applications have now closed and over the next few days I will be sending emails to all those who applied

Due to the large number of requests it is unfortunate that a few will miss out on this intake. I hope and trust another intake will happen at the end of the year.

Those of you who receive an offer from me over the next few days - you will have 2 days to accept the terms and conditions (and pay the fee) and the course remains on track to start on the 1st of June.

We have a great variety of students enlisted to enrol. A current shipbroker, a trainee shipbroker, a trading company manager, the head honcho of a large transport firm, Seafarers and even an entrepreneur or two.

That should make for some interesting dialogues and perspectives.

Nine months ago I attended a 2 day professional development seminar and it cost me (the company) USD 10,000 bucks. In essence this VS dry cargo chartering and shipbroking certificate IS a professional development course. It runs for 4 months, students learn from the best (that me - ha) and they get fantastic contacts in the industry (other students)....all for USD 950 dollars. Plus you get a certificate of completion at the end.

If that aint a bargain - I’m not sure what is...

Inside tip! A key to being a great negotiator is recognising value when you see it...if you have that skill then you will always win.

Let’s rock...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chartering and shipbroking certificate

A number of you have expressed interest in enrolling but have asked about anonymity. Although I will know who you are by necessity (payment details etc) I will not, unless previously agreed, devulge any students name to any third party (now or in the future). Privacy is very important to me.

There are a number of group tasks where students need to cooperate with eachother. In this case if a student would like to use a pseuodonym they may. Otherwise I have found that students enjoy speaking openly with the other students and don not mind sharing some personal and professional details.

Onwards and Upwards - VS!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shipbroking and chartering certificate

Had some excellent interest in the last 24 hours. We already have more than enough prosepctive students to start work on the 1st of June.

Note: I have some flexibility and may run two groups. I am yet to decide. The rest of you have until the 20th of May to make and application for enrollment


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The VS Dry Cargo Chartering and Shipbroking Certificate

Ready to go!



Going through the VS Dry Cargo Chartering and Shipbroking Certificate not only provided me with hard to find procedural knowledge on the chartering routines but, specially, the mindset --and the jargon and the 'respectful informality' implied by it-- that governs the relationship amongst shipbrokers, shipowners and charterers.

The privilege of being assigned realistic e-mail exercises on a daily basis by an experienced and successful shipbroker rewards the trainee with first-rate feedback and clarifications that span from shipping business theoretical knowledge all the way to the shipbroking community's Zeitgeist and written communications style.

What impressed me the most was VS' unfaltering availability, his openness towards all types of enquiries, his outright frankness and, above all, his genuine concern for the professional development and career progression of his students. I cannot overstate his commitment to the promotion of the shipbroking profession.

Luis AV (Americas)


'The Virtual Shipbroker Dry Cargo Chartering and Shipbroking Program was fantastic, I recommend it to anyone - awesome info, fair work load, great teacher and teacher's support along the way, good friends and incredible times. I would like to thank you VS simply for The Mentor Program it-self, it is absolutely worth the time and money.

My personal rating 6 stars of 5! :)'
(Mark B - Europe)

(If you would like to contact these students for verification just drop me a email)


- Suitable for all chartering roles; Shipbroking, cargo chartering, shipowning and freight trading.

- Next intake scheduled to start 1st June 2010

- Request for enrolment by May 20th.

- Limited spaces. I reserve the right to accept or decline any students as I see fit.

- Roughly a 4 month program - depending on speed of student. We have flexibility.

- Student assigned a daily email task which to be completed within 24 hours

- Time needed approx 30 minutes per day.

- Course can be tailored to specific needs.

- All study material available from 'Inside shipbroking', 'shipbroker Fast Track' and the Internet.

- No grades, no tests HOWEVER each task needs to be completed successfully before moving onto the

- First 2 weeks money back guarantee (if you are not happy with the format you can drop out and get your money back)

- Price USD 950.00 per person. This price includes Inside Shipbroking and Shipbroker Fast Track. If you already have these two books the price of the course is USD 900.00 per person

- Open to individuals and campanies alike.

- On completion you recieve a certificate to hang on your wall!

Some comments

The purpose of the Program is to provide students with a “hands on”, interactive education that is unavailable anywhere else. There is no syllabus and the format is very relaxed and informal. I set the student a daily task and it is the job of the student to complete the task and answer the questions.

In general we cover

- Voyage charters
- Time charters
- Different markets (ships and cargoes)
- Negotiation

A key element to the Program is the process of communication. All other courses teach you facts and figures. I teach you fact and figures but I also teach the processes and the language of shipping. For example; How to send and reply to emails in an appropriate manner. Timing, wording and reading between the lines. We use real life examples of using real ships and real cargoes.

In the last month we concentrate on the negotiation process. You will participate in a voyage charter negotiation and a time charter negotiation, with a fellow student (with me playing the part of shipowner and charterer).

The process always starts off with a bang with both student and teacher (me) fully motivated. After 1 month it is my experience that a little bit of fatigue sets in. We struggle for a while and then break on through having a great time in the last month before graduation. It is a learning module after all and there are some dry topics that we must cover.

All up – you can see from the testimonials, the two students who have completed the course found it to be a very positive experience.


To make a request to be accepted (and if you have any questions) please send me an email at

Tell me your name and a little bit about your background and why you would like to do the course.

Spots are VERY limited so hurry. I havent yet decided on optimal student numbers so there is some flexibility.

The Virtual Shipbroker

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dry Cargo 4 month boot camp!

Hi All

Shortly I will be releasing details of a fresh intake for the VS Dry Cargo Chartering Cert. (yes I even have a certificate!)

As I said the first 2 students found the process incredibly helpful. It really is the best hands on, interactive way to learn shipbroking and chartering.

Important point: With regards to how the industry will view this certificate. Probably with sceptisism. This certificate is not for people necessarily wanting to ramp up their resumes with a well respected qualification.

The certificate is really aimed for those who want the real knowledge NOW. Its for those already running business's looking to get into chartering and shipbroking. Its for those with contacts and its for those already employed in the industry.

It is also for those wanting to learn about chartering and shipowning (not just shipbroking). We approach chartering from all the different angles!

The best part of the certificate is that it is interactive. From the very beginning I teach you how to write emails using shipping speak. All correspondence during the boot camp must follow strict shipping speak guidlines. And because its fully interactive if a students knowledge lack in one area, we can pause and do some catch up work before we move on.

The other exciting thing about the certificate is that there is interaction on tasks with other students. Infact at the end of the process students will work together in a series of virtual negotiations (both time charter and voyage charter).

This was an idea of mine from 12 months ago. Its a work in progress and I envisage that with every intake of students the course will improve as I learn about what the student really needs.

Anyway............keep a look out over the next few days regarding more course details, workload expected, how to apply, and what the costs are!

There will be a limited intake of 3 students. Course due to begin 01st June 2010.

NB: I have been contacted by a few organisations interested in training a small team. If you have 2 or 3 people wanting to take part we can also discuss this idea and I can design a program specifically for your business.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Shipbroking and chartering salaries and bonuses

Press release from spinnaker consulting

Some very very nice numbers.....which concur with my figures (generally speaking)



BONUSES paid to freight traders this year for 2009 have been a “picture of extremes” according to recruitment consultants Spinnaker.

While some companies have not paid bonuses to staff in freight trading roles, others have paid between 200% and 300%, particularly in the dry market, says Spinnaker chairman Phil Parry.

Following the market crash in September 2008 and the plunge in the Baltic Dry Index, expectations were high for a “bloodletting” in 2009, according to Mr Parry. With the surge in Chinese imports of iron ore and coal buoying the market however, the last year has seen a two tier market open up between the ‘haves’ who called the market right in 2007/2008 and the ‘have-nots’.

Some of the biggest bonuses ever seen in shipping were paid between 2005 and 2008. 100% bonuses were commonplace for freight trading and broking personnel in both the physical and derivatives markets. More traditional chartering staff performing a scheduling rather than operating role, were receiving bonuses within the 20% to 60% range, Mr Parry says.

Although the rumour-mill did rather exaggerate quite how many chartering millionaires were being created, “Bonuses of between 200% and 400% were being received by top performers and senior managers in hands-on trading roles.”

Spinnaker is secretariat of the Maritime HR Forum and also conducts detailed annual research into freight trading and operations salaries and bonuses on behalf of trading clients. “We are often asked about ‘market salaries’, but there isn’t just one market out there. The banking, fund, shipowning and trading sectors are all very different. Ownership structure and style, a company’s trading philosophy (asset player, transportation company, freight operator, speculator) and the degree of attention paid to HR practices all dictate pay and bonus philosophy.”

Shock and wage restraint were the first reactions in 2009 with some redundancies of under-performers and junior brokers, according to Spinnaker. Some 40% of companies froze salaries last year, with 13% expected to do so for 2010.

Hiring freezes have been lifted in most cases and Spinnaker notes an upturn in the maritime recruitment market since September last year, with reductions in the time it takes to make a placement pointing to returning employer confidence. Spinnaker is making three times as many broking, chartering and freight trading placements than it did last year and the level of vacancies in the operations segment has risen considerably, Mr Parry says.

The tanker sector has notably picked up and Spinnaker has made more placements in the last quarter, particularly in the product and chemical tanker markets, than in the previous three quarters put together.

If there has been little change in basic salaries since 2008 as far as freight trading or broking staff are concerned, 2003-2008 saw salaries rocket, “particularly for junior chartering staff in the first six or seven years of their career,” Mr Parry explains.

The entry level for graduate freight trading and broking staff was typically around £25,000 to £28,000 by 2008. “Graduate recruitment has started to pick up in 2010 after a very quiet 2009”. Salaries in the UK are closer to £25,000 than the higher end of the scale, Mr Parry says. This compares with starting salaries in the US of $40,000, with salaries in mainland Europe a bit lower at between €24,000 to €28,000.

During the high period freight trading staff could quite commonly double their salaries within two to three years, Mr Parry says. “Very good freight trading and broking staff were attaining salaries of £70,000 to £100,000 within the first five years, with bonuses over the same period moving from a modest 15-30% at the outset to 100% plus for good performers after five years.”

Presently, median to upper quartile salaries for freight traders with 2-5 years experience range from €65-80,000 in mainland Europe, £55-65,000 in the UK, $120-150,000 in the US and S$90-140,000 in Singapore. “By definition, the median to upper quartile only reflect one-quarter of people in the market,” explains Mr Parry. “There are of course many people earning more and less than these figures, but it is in this pay range, rather than above the upper quartile as it was in 2007-2008, where most recruitment is now taking place.

The exception to this picture is some players in the commodity trading market where the trend towards selling CIF rather than FOB means freight departments are expanding and in some cases starting up - the demand for chartering staff has therefore increased and there is some pretty active poaching going on, not least in the Geneva market.

With salaries rising so fast, employees were hitting salary ceilings within the first 10 years of their career, Mr Parry says. “In basic salary terms many organisations cap freight trading salaries at £100-150,000 so a seasoned freight trader and his colleague in his twenties might be earning the same salary.” This, he says, should come as no surprise. “This is a market where numbers speak for themselves. If you have the aptitude you are just as likely to get rewarded when young as someone with 20 years’ experience.”

“Naturally, we’re delighted that we’re doing well at the moment. We’re actively recruiting staff ourselves but nevertheless keeping a close eye on costs and cashflow. With so much newbuilding activity and global economic recovery fragile to say the least, we’re keeping a close eye on the horizon!”

For more information contact:

end  Quote!

Why wouldnt you want to be shipbroker!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fun and games

I see the BDI keeps going up despite the Greek Tragedy currently taking place.

The interesting thing is that Greek shipping companies get huge tax concessions and this sector is one of Greece's largest industries. Maybe theres a problem there? Maybe not...they do employ thousands of people. It does seem a little strange though that the biggest industry pays little tax and the country is in receivership....

Anyway - I love Greece and I love the Greeks. Im sure the Euro Union will see to it that this doesnt escalate too much further.

Will this effect shipping markets? Maybe. If the infection spreads....

World Cup football just around the corner - go my team! Underdogs but a good chance to come second in the group!