Shipbrokers may soon have to show evidence of professional qualifications, warns the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS). Speaking at the Hong Kong Shipowners' Association on April 11, James Freeland, president of the ICS, pointed out that unlike other professions that deal with money, such as accountants and stockbrokers, shipbrokers are not required to pass any exams.
"If shipbrokers don't wake up to this situation and do something about it, they may find themselves suddenly having restrictions imposed on them by regulatory bodies such as the Financial Services Authority in the UK," he warns. This may involve having to show evidence of attaining recognised professional qualifications.
Part of the problem is the ease with which shipbrokers can set up shop. "In a world where regulation is becoming more intense, it is perhaps an anomaly that anyone can set up with an office, telephone and computer and call himself a shipbroker," says Freeland. Shipowners are also to blame, he adds, as many still fail to differentiate between shipbrokers who are qualified and those who are not.
The Institute o f Chartered Shipbrokers provides an internationallyrecognised and accepted professional qualification for shipbrokers but recent evidence shows that interest in the qualification is far higher overseas than it is in the UK. "Membership of the Institute and the letters M.I.C.S. and eventually F.I.C.S. (Fellow) after your name really does mean something internationally. In an increasingly competitive environment, today's shipbroker needs
to be cleverer, better trained and more professional than ever before," says Freeland, whose own shipbroking career
began in 1966. After 25 years with Clarksons, Freeland joined Braemar where he still works today as a consultant. He was elected president
of the ICS in 2001.
The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers was established in 1911 to represent
professionals working in the shipping industry. Today, it has over 3,500 members in more than 60 countries. Through its correspondence college, Tutorship, and its 25 branches worldwide, it offers training and education in all areas of the industry. It also plays a leading role in the standardisation and updating of documentary terms and conditions. Full details of the qualifications offered by the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers can be found at www.ics.org.uk.