Polarised shipmanagement sector still suffering from past reputation issues

Polarised shipmanagement sector still suffering from past reputation issues

Shipmanagement is becoming more polarised, and its past reputation issues with miscellaneous fees and cut corners continuing to dog the sector, a webinar featuring three of the top names in shipmanagement heard today.

Mark O’Neil, president of Columbia Shipmanagement, discussed the growing market differential seen in shipmanagement during an industry webinar today, saying that rivals who are cutting management fees to get business are actually providing no long term savings to clients.

“Quality services save money both in the short and long term. Quality service pays,” O’Neil argued, suggesting that his sector has become increasingly polarised.

Frank Coles, who heads up Hong Kong’s Wallem Group, warned that shipmanagement’s past reputational issues remain a problem today.

In-house management teams tend not to trust third party managers, Coles said.

“The reputation of managers from the past has soiled managers today,” Coles said, suggesting that this was making the quality argument a difficult task.

“There is a large divide between quality managers and those who scrape the barrel and take any ship available. We are all tarred with the same brush,” Coles said.

Graham Westgarth, the head of V. Group, used the webinar to call for greater standards. “It is the lack of reliability in this particular industry which creates issues for our people,” Westgarth said, arguing that it was vital that people adapt and adopt relevant technology – and that requires other parts of the industry to help out.

O’Neil said it was vital managers talked with one voice to address regulatory issues – whether that be by Intermanager or a new body.

Westgarth, Coles and O’Neil were speaking at a webinar organised by shipping website, Lloyd’s List.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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