John Gonzalez, experienced International Shipbroker and Fellow at the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in London, has had the opportunity to travel the world thanks to his extensive career as a Shipbroker, specialising in the Sale & Purchase sector. Originally from Gibraltar, we thank John for his interview, which opens Gibraltar Shipping’s first Interview Edition.
How has the Shipbroking industry evolved since you started in 1975?
I would say the evolution has been substantial - taking into account globalisation and communication.
The large brokerage firms have now offices worldwide covering the markets 24 hours a day. A single laptop has replaced whole rows of telex machines which was the norm back in the 70’s. It’s far more competitive today than ever but simultaneously the ever existing pressure to get results has had a knock-on effect on ethics.
How competitive is Gibraltar for Shipbroking?
Shipbrokerage can be practiced from virtually anywhere as long as you have good and reliable communications, it is the broker that has to be competitive.
Where do you see the local shipping sector in the next 5 years?
In shipping its difficult to predict so far ahead - I hope that Gibraltar will retain its current position in agency, bunkering, cruise calls, etc., and should look at certain diversification within the trade in the coming years i.e. Gibraltar has over 280 registered ocean going vessels, perhaps more should be done to encourage owners and ship managers to actually base themselves also in Gibraltar, this in turn will encourage other shipping related services to establish a presence. Political changes in the world can affect Gibraltar in many ways i.e. Greece is cash strapped, the Syriza party could increase taxation within the Greek shipping industry which could lead to shipping related companies considering alternate locations from where to run their business.
What are the challenges faced by Shipbrokers in the current economy?
The challenges remain the same and so do the opportunities in both good and adverse market conditions. In 2008 capesize tonnage were being chartered out for $235,000 daily, today they are being scrapped - there is business to be concluded under all market conditions.
Where are the main European Shipbrokers located?
London, Hamburg, Genoa, Paris, Athens/Piraeus and Oslo.
If you were not a Shipbroker, what would you have been in life?
Not a clue.
What was the most exciting period of your extensive career?
Learning the profession - post fixture work with Shinwa Kaiun Kaisha London then as a Sale & Purchase broker with Anthony Veder in Rotterdam during the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Any Shipbrokers in the family?
Alas no - the boys tried it for a time but decided to pursue other endeavours, this will make retirement easier.
Your favourite book...
Have too many to mention - as a young lad Enid Blyton books kept me enthralled, Exodus - Leon Uris even the Bible.
Your favourite ship...
Editor, Marine Strategy
The Editor is not responsible for the opinions expressed by Interviewees.
Interviews are pre-approved by the Interviewee before public release.