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

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Shipping smiles ready to return?

Its now quite some time since the GFC and the catastrophic drop in the BDI that accompanied it. I had a currency trader ask me just the other day about the BDI....."where's it at?" he asked. I quickly jibbed back "irrelevant for you guys" for a few more years to come.

You see the daily machinations of the BDI (Baltic Dry Index) was once seen as an almost mystical insight into the future health of the economic universe. A rising BDI meant countries were trading more - and this logically meant growth.

Alas the BDI celebrity bubble burst when this canary of the sea's became more about supply side ridiculousness than the health and wealth of nations.

China exploded and the shipping industry went NUTS! Collectively Bezerk! We spent, ordered, wined and dined like there was no tomorrow. And gee it was good! So good I semi retired.....but that's a whole new story...

What's interesting is that after the shipping equivalent of the great depression (the normal result of going Bezerk for too long)......i'm sensing more than just wishful thinking amongst the throng of well dressed and slightly older shipping frat shops.

Shipbrokers are expanding, dry bulk IPO's are back on the agenda, Shipowners are starting to order ships again and chartering exec's are renewing our love affair with business class lounges and fully reclinable seats ......Thank god for that! Can this really be true?

Save for the recent drop in Iron Prices, and the usual banter about Chinese house price - I could be excused for doing a cartwheel or two (which btw is easier in the high altitude mountains of Bhutan).

I'm finding it hard to find a good dentist...but I can't stop smiling

Lets not get ahead of ourselves but my crystal ball is looking clearer all the time.

If you aint in 'the game' yet.....maybe it's time to make a move!

Yours The Virtual Shipbroker

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thanks patience....life is good

Thanks to all the readers who have kept in touch. I am glad you never lost patience. The good news is that there is so much content on the blog that newcomers and regulars still have heaps to interact with.

Case in point from a new reader


You should have seen our surprise when we found your blog. To my friend, it is like a validation of what he have to go through in on the spot, all these questions which he painfully discovered. To me, never heard of the word dry bulk before, I was able to go from knowing nothing to being able to analyse, discuss and think about issues. I finished reading the blog in 3 weeks (will probably go through all of it once more). We also bought the 4 books and went through them and the voyage estimation together. Thank you for writing the blog, really. I hope that you are well with all that you are up to. Hope to see a post once in a while.


I have enjoyed taking some time away from the blog and am full of beans ready to go

Word of advice - For Breakfast - if you mix baked beans (organic) with raw Sauerkraut, eggs (organic) and garlic - don't expect too much love from the wife for at least 2 days...

lesson learnt

great detox though but was it worth it?


Shipping Jobs Singapore - So whats happening in Singapore for the next 12 months?

Nice article appeared in Hellenic Shipping news.

The clever Singaporeans have certainly cemented themselves (arguably) as the center of the shipping word these days....

I remember back in 2000 when bulk shipping was still a very niche industry. 

Anyway - seems onwards and upwards - may the prosperity continue!


2014 will see owners take delivery of thousands of newbuild vessels and more ships on the water means more people needed in shore-based roles.

Right now the global newbuild order book is standing at over 4,000 cargo ships and close to 1,000 OSVs. Every week brings fresh stories of owners inking new orders - the world fleet will continue to expand into 2015, 2016 and beyond.

This translates, basically, into more jobs: a good commercial Operator can handle around 10 ships, so every time the global fleet increases by 10 that is 1 new Operator job created.

On the technical management side a Technical Superintendent can typically manage around 5 ships and a Marine Superintendent anything up to 15. More ships mean more people.

Along with these Operators and Superintendents, more Crewing and Chartering professionals will be hired, not to mention the associated support staff and management required.

So, 100 new ships on the water can directly create 50 or more new shipping jobs on-shore. And these will be followed by the indirect jobs this creates at the various suppliers, agents, brokers, lawyers, and insurers.

So where does Singapore stand in this? There is no doubt that in bulk shipping Singapore is commercially the best in Asia and will continue to attract more international shipping players. The Global Trader Programme, offering reduced tax for commodity traders, means there are now 300 commodity traders with $100m+ revenues in the Lion City.

With all these cargo interests in Singapore, brokers and operators have to have a presence here, and for ship-owners commercial representation a necessity. Nowhere else can offer so much shipping business opportunity in one place, and in Singapore most of your clients are only a 10 minute taxi ride away.

Unquestionably, government policies affect the employment market in Singapore shipping. The tax benefits offered to shipping companies helped to establish Singapore’s current strong position by attracting international shipping companies en masse in 2006-2008.

As markets continue to improve in 2014, and ship owning becomes profitable again, these tax incentives will once again become more attractive; saving money on tax bills is really only of interest to companies that are making profits!

Again influenced by government policy, the people market in Singapore is slowly changing. The real change is coming from an improvement in the local talent pool driven by education – since 2009 NTU Maritime Studies BSc programme has graduated around 60-70 bright young candidates every year and many of the established shipping companies hire trainees from this talent pool.

SMU now offers a Maritime Economics Concentration and will be graduating students from 2015. In addition, the Polytechnics are offering world-leading Diploma courses and provide an excellent training environment and career path for Singaporeans to develop careers on-shore and at sea.

Changes to regulations in employing foreigners have had some effect, and firms now look to hire locally first for positions where the skills are available.

Senior positions though are largely unaffected by these changes as C-level and Director level roles are not given to people as career development opportunities – companies need the best possible people in these roles regardless of nationality, and not enough Singaporeans have the sea-going experience required to fill the technical roles available.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Singapore is the city with the highest concentration of diverse shipping talent in the world. The shipping industry in Singapore is a cultural rojak with 5,000+ shipping and maritime companies representing practically every country on earth.

With the city being the leading maritime centre in Asia - and now vying with London to be the Maritime Capital of the World, there is an undoubted need for diverse and highly skilled international talent.

International shipping companies will always want to maintain links to their home country, and when your clients come from all over the world it makes commercial sense to have a diverse workforce.

When managed well everyone benefits from this cross-pollination – foreign talent in Singapore gains exposure to a dynamic Asian market and gets the global experience to fast-track a career (not to mention access to a wealth of new career opportunities at competitor firms).

Singaporeans benefit from world-class shipping companies investing in developing local talent who ultimately benefit from exposure to international best-practice.

More ships on the water means more people employed on shore. Companies will continue to hire people in Singapore because if you want low / no tax, access to the top talent globally, to be in close proximity to your clients and counterparties, then Singapore is the place to be.

Whether or not the shipping markets continue to pick up in 2014 and beyond, the industry in Singapore will remain strong and good shipping talent will be in demand.
Source: SBR