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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Open Questions Thread

I will use this thread (and put it in favourites) for any open / random questions people want answered that aren't necessarily linked to my posts.

If no one has any questions then thats cool too - I can go back to sleep!


  1. Hi VS,
    do you mind to talk about the key points to note in a balance of period charter?

  2. Hi Jim (vs here)

    I probably need a bit more info here...

    Are you looking at taking a ship on period from a disponent owner(not head owner) with a 'balance of period' left on the head charter?

    cheers VS

  3. Hi VS,

    saw that you are contemplating to start tweeting, was just wondering if you would consider doing "live" chat through messengers as well? Although I'm pretty sure you would be bombarded pretty badly!


  4. Hi Amos

    I could do a live chat but im not sure what it would achieve as people can ask me questions on this blog anyway....

    At this moment I dont do messanger because my time is precious and I get lots of emails. At some stage I may allow msn messanger under certain circumstances.

    Thanks for the post

    The Virtual Shipbroker

  5. Hello vs,

    if you have a suitable cargo/or ship do you approach shipowner or charterers first?

    Is it the same in the case that you are supported by a charter or shipowners? I mean is it better to get in touch with the counterpart where support is more tricky?

    Is it true that the shipowner chose the broker/established channel for fixing a cargo?

  6. Hi,

    I am currently pursuing my MBA in finance from a reputed college in Mumbai. I have been shortlisted for the final round of interview for the post in "strategic planning, Sales and purchase department" in a reputed shipping company.
    Sir, it will be really helpful if you can address few of my questions listed below.

    1) How is ship valuations done? can you help me out in few methodologies?
    2) What all factors can influence a buyer’s decision and seller’s decision?
    3) Ship finance options that are available for buyer’s in today’s financial market?
    4) Why would a ship owner send his ship for demolition?
    5) Apart from paying the full purchase price, what al additional cost may incur while buying a ship?

    Thanking you in advance. Please reply asap.


  7. Dude I dont mind answering questions by why people expect I will write a 10 page economic essay for FREE is beyond me. Also why do you need these answers for a job interview.
    "And then to write please anser ASAP"


    What was that 1980's song called 'What have you done for me lately"

    Good luck with the interview though!

    Grumpy VS

  8. In reply to the person before the last person - the question is 'who do you approach first?

    Easy Anser - if someone sends you a ship - you approach the charterer. If someone sends you a cargo you approach the shipowner. You should be able to accomplish contacting both parties within 5 minutes anyway. 2 phone calls!


  9. It seems to be set as the rule today: 3.75% addcom to Charterers, 1.25% to be equally shared between two brokers.
    Why can't brokers get the full commission these days? Who made that change? Any chance to revert to full?

  10. Hi Jung - Maybe in Skorea but I certainly dont split commissions. Have split commissions only once.

    With freight rate so low splitting commissions is not sustainable for any shipbrokers.


  11. Ref who do you approach first

    Thank you Vs,

    especially for mentioning 2 phone calls!Sometime I rely on emails and I am starting to think that they do not work muuch to get attention even if you have a good ship/cargo.

  12. Hi VS,

    do you think it is bad for a broker's brand to be contacted by owners asking to approach another charterer while vsl still on sub for a short time left?

    I mean to ask rating the ship if owners sub is ending in 10-15 min and you have been advised owners are failing?

  13. If I knew I was about to be failed on subs I would be contacting thw world looking for other business.

    The only people who should not be looking for alternative business while on subs is the 'charterers'. A charterer is either fixed on subs or not. Charterers should not use the 24 hours to try and find cheaper ships. This is not kosher.


  14. DEAR VS,

    Good day!!!

    Revolution in Dry bulk as well :)

    Hope life is good at your end. I just wanted to know your opinion about current situation of dry bulk market, as your network and knowledge both are very good.

    I believe over supply of tonnages and high commodity prices are two reasons of current slump coupled with bad weather in some regions but what do you think what are the other reasons that already has a bad impact on big owners for example korea line....

    These owners were not expecting that much drop inspite of the fact that lot of people have been working in their research deparment (s).....

    Please to hear your point of view ...............??

    What do you expect when market will start increasing like it was before 2008 or close to 5000 BDI

    Await yours....


  15. Hello Hammad

    High commodity prices make no difference - but yes you are right about supply of tonnage. The bad weather hasnt helped.

    The problem with korealine is that like many shipowners - they seem bigger than what they are. They may have a fleet of 50 ships but only 20 percent of them are owned. The remainder are fixed the head owners on time charter for say 5-10 years. The problem here is that they took may ships from head owners at high TC rates for these ten years. They aint robinson carusoe here - many other companies have done the same.

    So when the market drops they are left with 30 very costly ships on their books - Guess what? With a BDI at 1,200 that means cashflow runs out very very quickly.

    They could be the first to fall. Personally I'm a bit of a bear atm. Sorry for not being full of bubbles but this looks like a protracted downswing.

    Oh yeh - research deparments dont run companies - traders and strategists do. Many of these guys (top honchos) are gamblers aswell. If they bet on black and market goes up they make millions - if they lose they get the sack and turn up somewhere else in 12 months time.

    Sad but true - See Armada and various others

    Keep rocking


  16. Dear VS,

    Thanks for your opinion, its really worth reading. I will try to find out more causes and we will discuss more about current downfall.

    I think others should also come to share their view point........


  17. What do you think about Clarksons shutting down their asset management division? Do you think the current crisis caught them unaware and the traders being more bullish than they could chew?

  18. Hi VS,

    I'm currently beginning my employment search in this field and I'm curious to get your take on chartering for an owner/operator or trader vs. shipbroking. What are the pro's and cons of these respective sides of the negotiation; I'm assuming that chartering for an owner or trader would offer more stability, but potentially less lucrative (though those bonuses are quite impressive!!), while shipbroking may be potentially more lucrative, but also significantly more "risky" from a stability perspective and as far as ratable income is concerned. Is this a fair assumption?

    I'd also be curious to know if shipbrokers can become charterers, and vice versa, that is to say can a charterer become a shipbroker after a career chartering, or does one typically stick to their respective field within the industry?

    Thanks much for this blog, and look forward to your response.



  19. Hi VS,

    It's Jim here. You were right there in your reply.
    Any more info you need?


  20. Hello Edward - check out my book 'Inside Shipbroking' which answers all these questions.


  21. Hi VS. Good day!
    I had a very basic question - What's the difference between the BPI and the BFA index (on Panamax)? The BPI is supposed to be an average of assessments sent in by the panelists (brokers) to the Baltic Exchange but so is the BFA. Is it the case that they average all assessments (including FFAs and actual fixtures regardless of the time period) that were done that day to calculate the BPI?


  22. HI VS! Thank you for your helpful posts.
    I am a South Korean. I'm waiting for a final interview with Maersk Broker in South Korea for a shipbroker trainee position. I have read your ebook, Inside Shipbroking, and a memoir written by a shipbroker since the first round. I have a bachelor's degree from an American university and my major was international politics. I can speak Korean, English, Japanese, and some Chinese. What do you think I should prepare for the final interview? I'm learning Chinese lately... I'm worried that I don't have any background related to shipping. I know this interview is a rare opportunity so.. hope you can help me. Thank you:)


  23. Dear VS.
    First of all, thank you for your helpful and insightful posts. I have also read your ebook, Inside Shipbroking and found it really helpful.
    I am a South Korean who just finished my bacehlors degree in international politics in a recognized university in USA.
    I am currently waiting for a final interview with Maersk Broker in South Korea for a shipbroker trainee position. The interview will take place possibly in early to mid January 2012.
    I'm worried that I don't have any specific background related to shipping industy. But I do have various work experiences.
    And I know I can defend myself that majoring in international politics offered me some background understanding of macroeconomy and international trade.
    I am an outgoing person with good linguistic skill: able to speak Korean, English, Japanese(conversatoinal) Chinese (Basic).
    I presented these details above to let you know a little more about me.
    So, following is my question:

    What are some important tips for final interview for a shipbroker trainee position?

    I know that this trainee postion is a rare opportunity for me so I'm so desperate to grasp it!
    Hope you can share your insights with me.

    Thank you and Merry Belated Christmas.!!!

  24. Hello JH

    Sounds to me you have everything pretty sorted. If you express yourself half aswell in person as you do in writing then you will be fine. Extra tips hey? Its a tough one because you have the mixture of working for a western company in skorea which is unusual and presents soem cultural challenges.

    In general the skorean shipping industry is quite conservative and there are hidden rules about how to act etc. But you are working for a european company which may have slightly different set of ideas as to what they are after. So for me it would depend on who is interviewing you?

    In general i can say this
    1. dress well
    2. Be respectfull
    3. be confident but not obnoxious
    4. show that you are good socially
    5. express you willingness to work hard and accross tiemzones
    6. Tell them that you can drink alot of rice wine without being sick

    that should do it!

    And read Inside shipbroking the morning of the interview just to refresh yourself with major concepts.

    Wishing you awesome luck and let me know ho wou go!

  25. Good day,
    i hv a question on CPs. I hv to draw a cp and i find it difficult to understand which information i hv to delete from the proforma cp. In the recap there is a part for cargo exclusions but it doesn't mention if i should delete the cargo exlclusions already in the proforma. In the proforma apart from the cargo exlcusions which are the same as in the recap there are several protective clauses (petcoke etc.) and conditions that are not mentioned in the recap. What do i do? Do i deleted them all and replace them according to recap or do i keep them? Same problem with the trade exlusions. Your help will be much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

  26. all good questions. I am surprised you got to this point (a fixture) without knowing how to do a cp. But never fear VS is here. Unfortunately for you this type of advice (which is ver valuable) falls under my consultancy business and will incur a small fee. Feel fre to contact me on virtualshipbroker@yahoo.com if you need my help.

    Get the cp wrong and kiss goodbye to your good relationship to both the shipowner and charterer


  27. Dear VS,
    I am in the process of fixing a vessel for a first time charterer. The operator has asked for 20% freight advance directly to his account. Charterer however not very comfortable to remit payment directly and wants me to convince the operator to accept BG or Escrow account. Operator says that owner will not accept Escrow and that he can lock the vessel only after getting the deposit. How do I satisfy both the parties.

  28. Good question new broker.

    In these crazy financial times your example is symptomatic.

    Without knowing who they are its difficult for me to give good advice. I can make some generalisations though.

    There must be a reason owners are asking for 20pct in advance. They probably scared about the financials of the charterer. Why are charterers refusing? What difference does paying into an escrow or straight into the bank account make to them? Unless offcourse the operator themselves are also financially insecure?

    IMO an escrow should be used for other purposes. Payment of freight upfront is becoming more and more prevalent. An escrow is better used if for instance there is an amount that may eventually be disputed. In your example this is not infact the case.

    So my advice is to work on the charterer. Make sure the agreement states that upfront payment doesnot take place until the ship actually delivers. Sending oney to a shipowners bank account without a delivered ship is not a good idea!

    At the end of the day if the charterer isnt happy then he can find another ship and the ship owner aint happy he can find another charterer...


  29. Would anyone be able to share their experiences or tell me the main responsibilities as a shipbroking trainee.. I know that you normally update vessel positions, screen emails for potential orders anything else to begin with?


  30. Dear Virtualshipbroker,

    yesterday I read many posts in your very interesting blog and I'm about to purchase your books.

    I'd like to ask you 2 questions:

    1) starting a shipbroking business is possible only if you have a strong background/experience in shipbroking or in your opinion it's possible even to people without experience in the field?

    In the second case If your answer is yes, I think that anyone if he wants, can open any business, even if gradually, step to step, try and error process: I'd like to know your experienced opinion about that.

    2) I ask you that have been all the 3 things: are the ship-owning business, shipbroking business (both as a society and a single individual) , the freight trade business, and know-how behind these activities, interchangeable? It's possible to start form one kind of business (for instance shipbroking) and transfer into another one (for instance shipowner or freight trader) whithout not to many gaps (know-how, resources etc..) to fill ?

    What would be the ideal, natural, least/non traumatic pathway through the 3 businesses? I mean:

    a) starting as a shipbroker
    b)becoming a shipowner
    c)becoming a freight trader

    for example?

    Thank you very much. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.


  31. Dear VS.

    Quick question;

    What does one point on the BDI represent.?

    Thanks heaps

  32. Dear VS,

    If shipowner wanted the following ,what do they mean?

    1)pls advise the shipper bground
    1a) What document is needed from the shipper? what sort of financial document are needed?

    I can be contacted at leelin_88@hotmail.com
    2)pls advise the each botom size

    3)pls advise if gearless workable

    Would appreciate your answers so much!!


  33. Hi VS,
    been reading up on your blog a while now and have found many interesting topics so congrats to that. Keep 'em coming. Just a quick question, when contemplating fixing a tct is there a specific element to take into consideration when negotiating the amount of days? i.e. how would you calculate the trip ecsa-cont (knowing around 35 days is used generally) when in fact the straight trip is not more than around 18 days (not accounting for cargo ops). is there a rule of thumb as to how to calculate duration?

    many thanks!

  34. Hello VS,

    Your blog is soooo informative, I really like it. Just a quick question. Other than transporting cargos, do shipbrokers involve in buying or selling MODUs such as drillships?

    Thank you!

  35. Hi there,
    I am 50 years old man with 30+ years in ITC industry (software development primarily). Quite bored about current earnings I have an opportunity to enter shipbrokering through a well established central European firm.

    The good part are the earnings, while the bad is starting as a rookie at 50!

    I thought I could spend the next 15 years working as much as possible, with earnings as the primary and only goal. Earn as much as possible.

    It is a hard choice because it means moving in another country, with 2hrs flight from home/family (week ends possible? Maybe not very often assuming it takes hard work?)

    At this point it is only a matter of money! What do you think? Worth it ? Possible? Too old? Not sure if I can picture myself again at start with hungry youngsters!

  36. Hi VS

    Despite not wanting to broadcast positions/orders feel I have very little choice. Do you know how the majors send out their lists.

    Aussie shipbroker