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, January 29, 2013

An answer for Ben!

Ben has left a new comment on your post "Inside Ship broking and Ship broker Fast Track.":

Hi VS,

Wonderful website and book. Congratulations! I have finished your book in a day and it has been a pleasure.

I have a question on a typical day for a shipbroker. While I understand every company organises their staff differently, I would like your opinion to reconcile my observations with what I have gathered from your book.

In the latter chapter on 'Orlando', it appears to imply a shipbroker's main task is a fixing machine. During my interview with company B, I saw how fixing a deal is just the start of a long process of servicing the clients.

The shipbrokers (not the operation executive) were in close contact with the charterers to resolve problems such as delays, cargo problems, and ensuring the goods arrive in good condition.

Have the roles of operations and shipbrokers become convergent? Or does the job of the shipbroker continues until the goods get delivered?

Thank you!

Posted by Ben to The Virtual Shipbrokers Books and Information at January 27, 2013 at 6:05 AM


Ben - thanks for a great question. For most of my career as a shipbroker (remember i was also a shipowner and a charterer) I pretty much handled everything from fixing the deals right down to invoicing for payment. This also included doing 90 pct of the postfixture work along the way.

infact for most of the shipbroking fraternity they do not have the luxury of a 'post fixture' department. Most shops are quintessential small business's employing 2 or 3 brokers and one admin staff. So for many doing a full service job is necessity rather than choice. The middle to larger shipbroking companies do have extra staff to help with post fixture and this can be a godsend when time are busy.

The interesting point though is that I know many brokers who work for larger firms who refuse to hand over the post fixture duties to designated post fixture staff. This can be for a variety of reasons but suffice to say that if you have a usd 1 million dollar per year client in your pocket you are loathed to pass any responsibility to anyone else.

So i reckon the circumstances should dictate the systems. It also depends on the client (they may be happy dealing with different people) and depends alot on the quality of the post fix and operational staff. Who would you prefer trying to sort out a complicated stowage problem - a young aggressive dude with nice hair (read shipbroker) or a experienced old master mariner with no hair (postfix boss)?

Pretty easy answer that one!

Thanks for stopping by


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Be kind to shipowners week!

A client recently said to me that one of his trusty shipowners seems to be in a bad mood recently and wondered if he (the charterer) may have done something to upset the gentleman.

Possibly.....was my reply. Shipping people are historically a grumpy bunch. long hours, stressful negotiations, deals falling over at the last moment, brokers not returning phone calls - maketh for a grumpieth shipowner.

Having said that I said a far more likely reason for a less than happy shipowner is simple - the CRAP state of the markets. Rates are so low just about every deal is a loser...which isn't good for most.

I'm not saying that no shipowners are happy - I am just pointing out that in historically low markets it would seem logical that the losers are the shipowners! Just like in historically high markets charterers would seem to be the losers..........Losers in this game we call dry bulk shipping.

But alas things in shipping are never that cut and dry. Shipowners with high costs and high debt and large new building order books have every right to be stressed. Their are shipowners however who have managed assets in a better way and infact now have huge competitive advantages with low costs, low debt and low new building exposure. The truth for the majority is probably somewhere in between...

One thing for sure is that the longer the markets stay in the doldrums - the less likely you will hear a cheery shipowner voice on the other side of the phone.

Good time to to be a commodity exporter or importer. As a percentage of the overall landed price of most bulk commodities - freight now plays less of a role (in percentage terms). There was a time not too long ago that the freight price for many commodities exceeded the commodity price (in certain markets)

So I reckon we should have the inaugural "be kind to a shipowner week" starting this Monday....

Maybe take your local shipowner pout for a boozy lunch or a game of golf. Sounds like a good excuse to celebrate 2013 to me...

Keep rocking
the Virtual Shipbroker

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy New Year All

Happy Christian New Year to all the readers. What have i been upto over the last 3 weeks?

In no particular order
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Recovering
  • Exercising
  • Fixing Ships (one or two)
  • Helping people with Cover letters and CV's (many over the Christmas and new year period)
  • Selling Books
  • Lecturing
  • Renovating/Building my house (yes I am helping)
  • Short Vacation to find some elusive 'SUN"
  • Saw 2 Rock Bands (Its true that I try and feel young even though i am not anymore)
  • Played football with my son
  • Watched my daughter try and do the splits (ballet)
  • Wined and dined my wife

Thats about it........not a bad list...

And it means I am ready and refreshed for a HUGE 2013. Big things expected for the blog. I would like to thank the continued support of so many readers (over 10,000 hits per month) from around the world. Books sold into more than 70 countries and the consultancy business continues to grow providing many of you with the expertise needed to make your business a winner. Some of the client successes stories have been extraordinary.

My promise is that for 2013 I will spend a little more time writing blog posts. Shipping is so large and diverse that there are literally thousands of topics that can be covered. The problem last year was that i was so busy. This year I have deliberately allowed more room in my schedule to get the posts back on track. I will also be releasing a new book (the first in a few years) that will flesh out many of the topics I have covered in the blog - plus a few surprises. I am glad I am publishing this because it will make me keep my promise. if you do not see anything from me (by way of a book) then start hounding me!

Apart from that I want to connect a bit better with the readers so i will be looking at how better to do this. If any of you have any ideas in this regard drop me a line.

interestingly I have had a few offers to buy this blog. I rank very high on google for just about every shipping term....so people are interested. But i dont wanna lose control. You will notice that I am one of the few successful blogs that doesnt have any form of external advertising - mostly because as an avid reader of other blog - advertising annoys the hell out me.

Anywayz - I am here to stay - like it or not and i sincerely hope you all keep reading. Drop me a line and say hello occassionally, and keep replying to posts that may interest you. Also if you havent as yet maybe become a follower of the blog. All those things keep me motivated to keep providing you with content that you deserve.

Love you (man hug)


The Virtual Shipbroker