Tragically, the coronavirus pandemic has affected all of our lives. It has changed the way we have been working over the last few months, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future. What do you think the S&P broking market will look like, post Covid-19?
Now in the middle of May, around two months of lock down in most of Europe is behind us. How this affects the S&P market will largely depend on how long each country’s lock down lasts, its easing, and the port and travel restrictions that apply, etc. For sure, there will be victims among us, people will lose their jobs and companies will close, like in all walks of life. For now Owners simply have other priorities to deal with.
I lived in Hong Kong during SARS which nobody can compare with Covid-19, the world economy and particularly the importance of China was a completely different one. Once the WHO declared SARS “under control”, it took about 6 months before the global logistics and transport business normalized. As such Covid-19 will occupy us for some time to come.
One key observation I made was that the sudden lock down has identified many shipbroking companies/individuals lacking professional organization. Unbelievable how many brokers in this 24/7/365 business seem to have no PC/Laptop, monitor or printer available at their homes. Interestingly, when working remotely, during these challenging times nobody can hide behind a big corporate name or an internal service hierarchy.
I hope that our clients develop(ed) an eye for that as well, it is not a matter of company size or brand, it is a question of individual competence, quality and high standards, irrespective of the present circumstances.
Looking at the Post Covid-19 times… I may be a bit naïve but I suppose with 35 years in the business I may also have some valid points, as such I would hope that once a certain normality returns, the broking community will 1st of all show more respect for each other. That has been lost over the last years.
I would not mind if at least some of us started to reflect and would welcome to actively talk about necessary adjustments to protect our interests to strengthen our profession – or to form collaborations that make sure this will happen.
What minimum qualifications would brokers have to offer?
Do some of the Broking houses need to have countless overseas offices, adding them like trophies, while they cross subsidize them when they should accept, respect and support (existing) local expertise instead?
Is our industry’s modus operandi “2020 equivalent” and matching other industries’ codes of conduct?
1) The entire concept of broker to broker engagement is still based on the traditional open mass distribution of highly sensitive/valuable information purely on a trust basis – which is an irony given the regular abuse of such information amid a lack of transparency and potential conflict of interest.
2) In this industry it should still be common and accepted to have one broker on each side of the table. As such the brokers also should stand up for their own rights against clients that are happy to use our infrastructures and services for free, but seem to have problems with the payment of reasonable commissions.
3) In that context I wonder what justification all the organisations or interest groups have if they do not address and implement the rules of engagement for all participants in our business. I believe the time has come to challenge them.