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Pictured: Glenn Murphy, Chairman, Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers

Pictured: Glenn Murphy, Chairman, Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers

The Future of Ship Broking: A Blend of Emotional and Artificial Intelligence

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September 26, 2023

Glenn Murphy, Chairman, Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers on why an internationally recognised, professional qualification in broking can ramp up career prospects

The role of the shipbroker is a dynamic and complex one, that goes well beyond fixing cargoes.  With two strong shipping principals to broker between, you need to pull on all your life skills and industry knowledge to mediate an agreement that both parties are happy with. And in my experience good brokers are able to coordinate a solution where both principals feel they have won.

It’s these kinds of skills that separate those that succeed in this industry, from those that don’t. The road to becoming a well-respected and trusted broker requires hard work,  perseverance and excellent people skills, as well as a thorough understanding of the industry. You can’t rely on digitalisation to do this job for you. Whilst it is true that technology and artificial intelligence (AI) is making broking more efficient, it is no replacement for the soft and life skills and in-depth knowledge that are so essential to this job.

To that end, I believe that shipbrokers will continue to provide an essential service to the industry long into the future.

Shipbroking is a fast-paced and rewarding career, where no two days are the same. For those that are serious about raising their game within this industry and want to distinguish themselves as serious and quality players, then a back-to-basics approach to professional training would serve them well.

With the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers’ (ICS) qualification, shipbrokers take a significant step towards establishing their professional credibility and expertise. 

Individual professional membership of the Institute is gained by studying online or at evening class and passing the Qualifying Examinations. Promotion to Fellowship permits the person to be recognised as a Chartered Shipbroker.

Like the job itself, the road to becoming a Chartered Shipbroker, is hard-earned and requires commitment and determination. Like many who have revised for and passed the examinations, I have experienced the sheer joy of finally being able to consider myself a Chartered Shipbroker. It has served me since qualifying 25 years ago and I would encourage others to make the same commitment.

The shipping industry is evolving and the ICS is investing in its future to ensure it remains relevant in the changing technological landscape. Students these days, including those studying for professional qualifications, expect a better digital experience. In response, many of the Institute’s courses are now offered through online classrooms.

Whilst examinations continue to be sat in person at the over 100 test centres worldwide, including six in North America, the ICS is considering the possibility of online examinations.

The accolade of Chartered Shipbroker sits firmly with the individual that earned it, but employers and brokerage firms will also benefit from encouraging professional development within the workplace.  Not only does the ICS set standards through qualifications, and benchmarks a company as a serious outfit, it is also a great way to enable staff to specialise in different areas of the business, benefitting employees and employers alike.

As I was told early on in my career: “Don’t be a postbox”. If you all you do is forward on messages without giving any value-add then your days as a broker are numbered. 

The first step towards becoming a successful broker, is to never underestimate the added value you must bring when fixing ships. These are skills that can never be replaced by AI or any other technology. 

The second is to enroll as a student with the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers.


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