A detailed report by PWC, commissioned by Maritime London for London International Shipping Week, says that whilst the absolute number of shipbrokers in the UK has grown, the UK is losing market share.
The study, Catching the Wave, sets out 36 recommendations designed to boost shipbroking as well as other professional sectors which make up the UK’s $6bn maritime services industry including finance, legal and insurance. These include:
- Strengthen the core of ship owners and charterers
Recommendations include the appointment of a government ‘shipping czar’ to drive a campaign to attract more ship owners and charterers to the UK
- Deepen the UK lead in specialist segments
The UK has a significant lead in maritime disputes and insurance. Recommendations include the development of legal frameworks for AI, autonomous vessels and carbon emissions to strengthen this position.
- Rebuild the UK’s position in ship finance
The UK has a marginal presence in ship financing following the exit of RBS and Lloyds from the market. Recommendations to revive ship finance include achieving dual listings of large shipping companies on the London Stock Exchange; developing London as the leading offshore centre for RMB based ship leasing and greater sector outreach to the deep pool of UK based institutional investors.
- Extend the UK’s lead in technology
Measures to improve the adoption of digital technologies by the maritime sector including the creation of a government and industry backed fund focused on supporting innovation and the designation of maritime as a priority sector within existing government schemes.
- Increase the talent pool
The availability of skilled staff is a key driver of success for the maritime cluster. Ensure that post-Brexit visa and immigration rules mean that UK firms can recruit the best international staff as well as measures to increase the number of merchant officers, increase diversity and further internationalise the UK’s maritime colleges
- Enhance cluster effect benefits
The positive effect of having multiple maritime service providers in one location needs to be further enhanced. Recommendations include working more closely with other European clusters, proactively engaging with developing economies and virtual clustering initiatives.
The 64-page report analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the UK’s shipbroking, legal, insurance and finance sectors.
The report’s authors note that while other clusters have narrowed the gap in shipbroking, the UK still remains the leader with more brokers than any other cluster. In addition, seven of the top twenty shipbroking firms (including two of the top three) are headquartered in London. “This ensures that the UK remains one of the key centres for shipbroking as it is at the centre of talent and information transfer within these companies.”
The report also notes that 7% of shipbrokers in the UK have worked at three or more firms and that 12% of UK shipbrokers have previously worked in chartering, finance or the legal, classification or insurance sector. The report says: “While this can be seen as a cost to the individual firms concerned, it both promotes the transfer of knowledge and makes the UK a more attractive destination for talent.”
Click here to download a full copy of the report.