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Maritime Careers: How to Get Ahead in Shipbroking

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

August 10, 2023

Copyright Who is Danny/AdobeStock

Copyright Who is Danny/AdobeStock

Want to set yourself apart from the crowd? Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers Chairman Glenn Murphy offers this advice to young shipbrokers In the bustling world of global trade, shipbrokers play a crucial role in facilitating seamless transactions and ensuring the smooth movement of goods across vast oceans. 

As a shipbroker, you are at the heart of this dynamic industry, and staying ahead of the competition requires a strategic approach and a particular set of skills.

Shipping does not stand still: shipbroking is a multifaceted skill which has always moved with the times. Over the course of my career, I’ve seen the shift from face-to-face trading to constant telex messages to digitally generated data that aids decision making. I have seen the value technology can bring to shipbroking, as it frees up brokers’ time which can then be spent on making deals and liaising with charterers.  
To thrive in this competitive, complex and ever-changing shipping landscape, knowledge is your most powerful tool. Invest time and effort in building a robust foundation of understanding about the shipping industry and it will put you in good position for the future. 

The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers provides professional qualifications that equip you with the latest knowledge and skills that will help you stand out from your peers. Absorb from your surroundings, stay informed about market trends, shipping regulations, vessel types, and emerging technologies. Continuous learning and staying up-to-date with industry developments will give you a competitive edge and instil confidence in your clients, principals and employers.

Most industries are confronting the possible impacts that artificial intelligence (AI) and digitalised processes will have on their businesses. Meanwhile, at an individual level, we are all wondering quite how new technologies will influence our future career prospects. In broking we are already benefitting from digitally generated information that gives immediate market insight, aids decision making and makes shipbroking a more intrinsic function within maritime industry.

Quite how AI will continue to shake-up the business of connecting and handling transactions remains to be seen, but embracing digitalisation and technological advancements is crucial to staying competitive in shipbroking. Over the years, however, I have been repeatedly reminded that shipping is, first and foremost and always will be, a people-centred industry.  

While much is written about artificial intelligence, one thing which is fundamental for a broker, is emotional intelligence. Shipbroking involves working with diverse and quite often very strong personalities while navigating complex negotiations. Developing emotional intelligence will help you understand and manage emotions effectively, it is sensing where the negotiations are at any point and quite often having the ability to read between the lines. From my experience it us usually a combination of professional life skills and emotional intelligence which helps close out most negotiations.

So how does a younger shipbroker separate themselves from the crowd as a quality player? In an era of evermore compliance and scrutiny, how can a shipbroker at any stage of their career, demonstrate to clients that they are qualified to be advising on and handling vessel transactions and fixtures even if they have been doing it for years? I firmly believe that it is the training and qualifications which we gain during our career that help us continually evolve as professionals.

As I mentioned earlier, the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) is one of the most respected and recognised providers of professional education in our industry. Individual professional membership of the Institute is gained by candidates studying online or evening class and passing the Qualifying Examinations. Promotion to Fellowship permits the person to be described as a Chartered Shipbroker.
For a working shipbroker to achieve success via the ICS, they do need the support of their employer. I call on shipbroker employers, large and small, to support career development and to use the services of the ICS to underpin their own inhouse training.

The Institute is moving forward with the times and is investing in the future. We continue to adapt and update our syllabus and will be introducing ways for individuals to sit exams online. Critically we will continue to strive to ensure that ICS membership is looked up to as a distinguished badge of trade.

Those brokers keen to make their mark in broking should focus their efforts on building professional relationships and ensure they have the fundamental knowledge necessary to advise on and handle charter fixes. The first is down to individual character, but for the second, an ICS qualification will always be a mark of a broker’s fundamental understanding and commitment to the business of shipping.  

About the Author: Glenn Murphy is currently chair of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. He has over 25 years in shipbroking and is the founder and managing director of Irish Shipbrokers & Chartering, based in Dublin, the Republic of Ireland.

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