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, October 19, 2010

Good post from a Reader


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Alain De Botton and the Virtual Shipbroker":

I have been looking for a site like yours for the past 15 years ""ex fisherman now (bored finacial adviser)"", and when I came across your site I thought it was a scam but since buying your materials and reading of your experience in the industry it was like hearing the Beatles for the first time: if, ships are your thing. I was wondering if it is still possible to buy a Dry Bulk Cargo ship for about 200k and be able to make a decent living from moving it around the world. I know the market died a couple of years ago along with the rest of the finacial world because I used to follow the Baltic Index and have small investments in shipping companies, I wondered why the city types didnt have a finaicial instrument ie index or ETF to follow the exchange as there are lots of shipping "heads" in the city which follow many different indexs, and they could buy it or sell it on a regular basis, Is there now an over supply of ships trying to get work and has the German KG shipping funds completly died. As you said on your blog you used to own ships, Would you buy one now.

Many Thanks
Many thanks the message. I am glad you have enjoyed the books and the blog.
The question can you buy a ship for 200k?
The answer - add two more zeros....the price of a ship is now way into the millions. 200k will buy you an average cruiser (fits 8) that will take you through the Greek islands at your pleasure. Not however a commercial bulk carrier.
But yes everyday - people, companies, hedge funds etc buy ships for millions of dollars and then spend the next 20 years moving this ship around the world making margins where possible. This is shipowning at its purest.
WIth regards to futures markets - yes this is now possible. FFA"S are financial intruments available to major shipping players (institutional investors) - not mother and father investors though.
Yes there seems to be an oversupply of ships - and scribes have been warning of this for years. The good news is that seaborne trade has also grown. China and India are sucking up the extra tonnage and sofar we haven't seen any prolonged crash in rates. Yes a few years ago we did see a crash but it was short lived and luckily took very few victims with it.
The current market cycle is best described as 'volatile'. Anything can happen and anything will happen.
BTW - Small point - I said I was a shipowner and by that I mean I worked for a shipowner - one of the biggest. I never personally had an invesment stake in a ship - although if I had 10 years ago I would be posting from my million dollar yacht on the riviera instead of a 10 dollar thatched hut with no running water on the top of a hill in the Himalaya. Million Dollar views though....here comes a yack now! Gotta run.
Keep Rockin
The Virtual Shipbroker

Free port distance tables

If anyone can recommend a good free website for marine (port) distance tables then please drop me a line.

A number of the free ones have gone awol. So need to add a new link or tow to my Voyage Estimator Website. (One still works)

If I cant find new links I will build my own - lol


Friday, October 15, 2010

Some good news for readers of the blog

Hi All.

Over the last year and a half many people have asked me if I could start a shipping forum so that people can share views on various topics within the shipping industry.

You will have noticed that I recently ran an online poll asking for feedback on this very question.

The replies were interesting. As I thought - there are many people out there eager to connect and have meaningful discussions about the shipbroking and chartering Industry. Equally however, many others share my concern that any real discussion will be limited by the reticence of those already in the industry to open up about the way things are done.

International shipping has always been secretive. Remember the mantra - Big Money, Big Ego's, Big Opportunities! It is for this reason that meaningful discussion from industry heavyweights will almost always be limited.

Others have tried to start a meaningful 'commercial' shipping forums and all of them have been dismal failures. Some forums work well especially the ones that allow seafarers and operational personal to swap stories. On the contrary - getting Shipbrokers and chartering executives to talk shop in an open manner is about as likely as middle east peace (although we do hold out hope for that!)

The only way I see that happening is if I throw a million dollar party on a yacht in the Carribbean - free booze and get the guys to start chatting sometime after 12 am! That could be very costly (but also quite entertaining - would need a few sober lawyers onboard just incase things get out of hand)

So what doses this mean? Well I still think there is room for meaninglful dialogue. I also think that my blog has gone some way in breaking down some of the percieved biases for the shipping establishment. Shipping is a huge business and IMO the industry has nothing to fear from being more open about the way things are done. Shipbrokers should also be less fearfull of social media. Its here to stay and enbrace it they should.

How many shipping / shipbroking companies do you know that hire

1. Marketing managers
2. Strategic marketers
3. Strategic analysts (identifying trends)
4. Social media / web  experts

In 15 years from now - most will...

In such a changing world, socially and technologically speaking this is an oversight.

Anyway - enough of my glancing into the future.

Heres the good news...............

One of the good friends of this blog has offered to start a "Virtual Shipbroker" Facebook page. We are still working on how it will work but I envisage that it will allow readers of the blog to connect in a more interractive way then the blog currently allows. Its not a forum but its a start.

We are still working on exactly how it will work but its something to look forward too..

Keep your eyes open for further details


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Makes this blog worthwhile


Thanks v much for the guidance and your tips. I have indeed landed a job in .................(withheld).

Its such a relief after a long trek and knocking many doors. I know the journey doesn't end here. rather its the start of a new journey now and what can i say? I am charged up and ready to roll.

Its been a fantastic reassurance to have someone as unbiased and insightful and dependable as you to whom i could turn to for advise. I owe a lot to your 2 books and to your advise.

God bless you in your future endeavours
Makes this blog worthwhile!

The Virtual Shipbroker

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Marketing Your Shipbroking / Shipowning / Chartering Service

Most Shipping people are crappy marketers. Marketing is a foreign concept and if a 'marketing activity' does actually take place it is usually by fluke rather than through any considered marketing plan.

Marketing to most Bulk Shipping Firms means 3 things

1. Long Lunch
2. Golf Day
3. Business cards

Believe it or not - these things make up yet a small aspect of the marketing mix and come under PRMOTIONAL Marketing. This a a mere drop in the ocean.

Container companies are much more savvy because they have to be.

Shipbroker/Shipowner Marketing Tutorial 1.

Incase you are wondering how I get people to write testimonials for my blog..

Simple - I ask! If they are happy with my service i ask them to write something nice.

Broking Marketing tip 1329 - Ask and you shall receive

Broking Marketing tip 1330 - Always provide value for money

Broking marketing tip 1331 - Never lose a chance to turn a clients good experience into a chance to promote your service.

VS (International Shipping - Marketing Specialist (amongst other things))

Want me to help your firm formulate a marketing plan - drop me a line (See - never miss a chance!)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Institute of Chartererd Shipbrokers

Ok - time for some Straight Talk

I am constantly asked if the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers Exams are worthwhile. My answer is overwhelmingly YES. For any Maritime Professional it is a well respected qualification to have.

I will re-iterate however that most shipbrokers and chartering execs do not have these qualifications. Many do, but most do not.

This is an important point because the second most asked question is "Will completing the ICS exams guarantee me a job as a shipbroker'. The answer to this question is an unfortunate no. There are thousands of people who have completed the exams over the years who have not been able to find employement as shipbrokers.

There seems to be a misnomer by some (mostly aspiring shipbrokers) that the ICS exams are similar to doing a law or medical degree in that on graduation people will be scooped up by shipbroking and chartering firms around the globe. Again this is sadly not the case. It can be an expensive and ultimatley fruitless exercise if this is your expectation.

There is no doubt that the successful completion of the ICS exams will help those already employed in the industry gain more knowledge. Notably it will also help aspirants beef up ones resume.... but in truth probably no more than a Degree in Shipping, Maritime Business or International trade.

Plenty of ways to skin a cat! Some are cheaper than others.

Check out my best selling book 'Inside Shipbroking' for the inside word on what employers are really looking for in possible candidates. Tick many of the boxes and you are IN.

The Virtual Shipbroker